A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Switching places

So, you know, I taught middle school for many many years before I transitioned up to the high school level. I now have a child of my own in middle school, and boy, have things changed!

I just went to a parent conference, and one of my kid's teachers stated that he was concerned about kiddo being distracted in class since the first day of attendance in his class several weeks ago. And yet, not ONE phone call have I received from this person, nor even an email. And I teach in the district. It's not like it's hard: simply type my name in and the email automatically gets sent with a minimum of effort.

Now, when I was teaching middle school, it was expected that we would be proactive and contact parents early, especially about situations like this where it may not be obvious from checking grades online. Instead, I got a surprise comment about behavior after allowing the situation to fester for weeks without a word. It is infuriating! I no longer teach middle school, and I STILL proactively contact parents about any concerns I have. What in the world is going on down there?

The principal there was not there when I was, so I wonder if he has simply decided that this is acceptable. I mean, look, I would blame myself if there was a GRADE issue I could have seen online, but this is different, since teachers don't post evaluations of effort and behavior until the end of the grading period-- too late for me to do anything, again. This is not the standards of progessionalism that I would expect were I an administrator. It sets up an adversarial relationship with some parents as well if they feel that teachers wait until conferences to play "gotcha."

You know, when I am acting as a teacher, I always try to think about what I would hope to know if I were the parent of each of my students. I guess I'm just an old fossil.

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At 2/25/11, 8:04 AM, Blogger NYC Educator said...

I think it's simply good management to contact parents when possible. It not only gives them a heads-up and you a chance to pass more kids, but also makes your classroom a much better place. I have one kid I failed last semester because I couldn't get through to his house, though I tried repeatedly. But a counselor found a working number and his behavior has changed. Amazing how kids can improve when they know whatever they do in class will follow them home.

At 2/25/11, 4:28 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

Absolutely true. It's common courtesy.

At 2/25/11, 6:53 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I ran into almost the same issue with my step-daughter all through middle school and then in high school. We didn't even receive requests for parent conferences from any of her teachers and needed to set them up ourselves. I never once was contacted about any issues and was unaware of some of the problems she was having in class.

I only wish that the teachers she had were as pro-active as you are!

Dan Benninghoff


At 2/26/11, 9:21 AM, Anonymous Jen said...

It sounds like his grade in the class is fine? I wonder if this isn't a case of a teacher who feels there has to be something to improve? Or is worried that he isn't challenging your kid so he's putting boredom into the category of distraction?

I had one teacher at a conference tell me fine, fine, only complaint is that your son should choose the groups he works with more carefully (lots of group work). Seemed to be about him having to do more of the work? Hard to pin her down on that.

Asked son right after about this -- who was he choosing to work with, were they fooling around? who would be better choices to work with?

He looked at me confused -- uh, mom, what are you talking about? Ms. E chooses our groups, we don't get to pick.

@@ I decided that was her problem not ours. Or that she felt she needed to say something he could have worked on and that was the first thing that popped into her head.


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