Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Parent Contact

I got chewed out through a string of e-mail messages with a parent yesterday. ... But first a little background. I teach juniors and seniors, and if there are problems, I mostly deal with the kids. I figure that it's time to snip the apron strings and have them take more ownership for their learning. It's worked for me so far, and I mostly have students step up to the plate. I still have parent contact, and I keep them informed of the grades regularly by e-mail. But... -

head on desk? make them sit up/find out they're working 40 hours a week or not sleeping/feel bad for them/keep prompting them to sit up.

cussing in class? stongly discourage it with humor/stern looks/constant reminder until it stops.

Not turning in homework? highlighting the fact to them/sending their grades via our grading program and e-mail to all available addresses/prompting them to come in for help/accepting late work/tutoring.

And if a parent initiates contact with me, I'll make sure they're on the e-mail contact list, and keep them updated.

So. This child is failing my class. She turns in her homework late, in a rush, during the last weeks of the grading periods. She has come in for help maybe 3 times during the year. She never turns in her test corrections. She "yeses" me about coming for help, but doesn't follow through. I still send home grades and progress reports every week and a half or so. I have never heard from the parent. Well, unknown to me, somehow her mother's e-mail address got "unchecked" in the grading program, and she hasn't been receiving this child's grade updates. The only way I guess she found out her current grade was to check her daughter's e-mail. (after thinking about it, I remember that the girl had come in one day and told me that her e-mail address had changed and gave me the new one. I didn't think anything about it, since we have many parents that don't have e-mail, and I had no reason to doubt her, and so I changed it. Bad move.)

Well. ...oh my god you're a horrible teacher...why didn't you contact me if her grades were so bad ... I see you've given up on her ... I'll be speaking to her counselor ... I'm not your average parent, I care about my child's grades ... and back and forth.

Note to self: Make SURE you have some working e-mail address for any potentially failing student.

4 comments:

  1. Let her talk to the counselor. What's the worst thing that happens? The kid gets transferred out of your class? Fine. The counselor complains about you? At the end of it all, the root of the problem is still with the student: her poor decisions, lack of initiative, and willful rejection of your attempts to help. If I was the parent of that child, I might want to find someone else to blame too. But that's not fair to you.

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  2. Thanks, mrc. Things seem to have settled down, but we'll see if she stays in class next semester or not.

    Ms. Cookie

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  3. I send all complaining parents straight to my AP. He gets paid to handle these problems. But, maybe that is because I can retire whenever I want. I don't have patience with stupidity anymore.

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