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.