Thursday, March 19, 2009

Parent-up!

I am so pissed right now. So tired of my job.

I am aware that I am not a parent. (Don't I get constant reminders of it lately???) But I have been teaching middle school for ELEVEN YEARS. I've been at my current school for ten. At an average of 85 students a year, that means I have had daily interaction with over nine hundred teen.agers.

I understand that when I was 23 and brand new to this profession that parents questioned my opinions. I was inexperienced, I was young- barely out of school myself. But I definitely think I've earned my stripes.

High school articulation and course recommendations always bring out the squeaky wheels. Parents who I haven't head from, even after poor progress reports, regularly missing homework, and comments on the report card like "frequently off task" suddenly are calling and telling me they are sure that their child is capable of taking a higher class. Fine. Call the high school and override my rec. You're not going to bully me into changing my mind.

Today's morning phone conversation really set me off. I got an email from the parent of a student that I have who, while he is a nice kid who does not have any sort of attentional or learning d.isability. He is just very social and unfocused in class. This is true in his other classes as well. I have had a parent conference with his parents as have the other teachers on my team. It is clear that they are not consistent with him regarding consequences.

These parents have decided that they want their son to take the accelerated class. After two passive emails that said "Feel free to contact us if you would like to discuss the placement," (No thanks. I think I was pretty clear.) I received an email that asked me to directly call them.

I won't go into all of it, because it's long and boring, but basically the kid isn't paying attention in class. He is choosing to socialize with his friends rather than pay attention. While I do have consequences for this b.ehavior, there is only so much I can do and so he is now experiencing the natural consequences.

When I spoke to the mother today about his behavior and about why I did not feel the accelerated high school class was a good match for him, she said to me "Well, the inattention we can deal with because, based on what I know about teen.agers, that is just eighth grade b.ehavior." I said "In my experience from my ten years of teaching, I know that he is making the choice to behave in this way in class, and that it is not appropriate choice for an eighth grader." Urgh. She was borderline rude to me through the whole conversation and then basically implied to me that I didn't know how to be sensitive to the needs/b.ehaviors of teen.agers.

Now they have requested a meeting with me to discuss this. Fine, but I'm not going to tell you anything new and I'm not changing my recommendation. I told them I was happy to meet with them, but that I wanted their son at the meeting as well.

I'm SO TIRED of this. So many parents I deal with do not take responsibility for RAISING THEIR KIDS and don't expect their kids to take responsibility for their own actions. They ask me to contact them every time their kid misses a homework assignment- I HAVE EIGHTY STUDENTS. Would you prefer that I spend my time preparing and teaching your children, or making phone calls every time a fourteen year old does not do what is reasonably expected of him/her. So many of my students are so indulged and enabled. We have had parents who have kids who are failing and when they say "We don't know what to do!" and we tell them "Take the TV, the telephone, the computer, the Play.Station out of his/her room!" What do you think the response is? Often times: "He'll get mad!" "She won't let me!" "I can't do that!" Okay then. Stop calling me and asking me what to do.

I think I am getting close to done with this job. I hear from teachers who are more veteran than I (20+ years) that this is getting worse and worse. Teachers are expected to "raise" the kids.* President O.bama has even addressed this on multiple occasions.** "...it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent -- for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home. That is not a D.emocratic issue or a R.epublican issue. That's an American issue."

Tonight is a night I could really use a glass of wine... Which is worse? The stress being caused by my job or a glass (or two) of wine that will help me to de-stress?

I'm just so frustrated.

*Please know that I am aware this is not true about every, or even the majority of parents. However, the parents for which it is true (and their kids) take up the majority of my time and energy, which takes away what I have left for the other kids. And the number for which this is true gets bigger every year, draining teachers' time and energy more and more.

**2 examples: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/28/barack-obama-democratic-c_n_122224.html and http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/02/24/sotn.obama.transcript/ (this last is where the quote above comes from.)

4 comments:

Sticks and Stims said...

That sounds very frustrating. You have much more patience than I would!

Frenchie said...

Definitely have the wine. I'm sorry. I can't imagine doing your job...

kirke said...

Every parent thinks their child belongs in the accelerated class. Super frustrating. I really have a lot of respect for the way you stick to your guns.

You are doing good work!!!

Jess said...

WOW, I thought I was writing this after a long day of work! I teach 6th grade (I taught 8th last year), and I swear I feel the same way. I am sick and tired of parents blaming their poor parenting on me or ADHD. I had one dad tell me and 3 other teachers we weren't fit to teach his precious child. I wanted to laugh in his face...how are 4 teachers bad...maybe if you were a good parent, your kid would be good!

Obama nailed that speech...it is an American issue. Parents aren't owning up to their responsibilities and they expect us to do all the work for them plus teach their precious darlings.

Thanks for this post! I will be drinking a glass of wine with you! :)