Recently, when I have written about issues I have had with some of my students’ parents, things have gotten, um, heated. And that’s cool. It used to make me upset, and now I just kind of think of myself as the Linda Richman of Teacher Talk – like I could prompt a discussion with the words, “Parental Involvement...not really parenting, not really involvement...discuss.” I do like to think I have a better wardrobe than Linda...
Anyhow, I do think it’s good to discuss things and you can disagree with me at times (although I’m always right, so it’s a waste of time...you’ll see it someday too, trust me....). So let’s chew on this latest parental gem, shall we??
I had a parent approach me very early in the school year, requesting that her daughter be evaluated for possible learning disabilities. At the time, I had only worked with her child for six or seven days, so I felt like I couldn’t really contribute much to that conversation. I respected the mother’s wishes however, and talked to her about the process of getting a child evaluated and referred for extra services. All the parent had to do was write a letter requesting an evaluation...which she did. Fine.
Once I got to know her child better, I disagreed with this decision, finding no evidence of real issues with learning, but again, I figured she was the parent, and I needed to respect her wishes.
Great. All very supportive and lovely, the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining, right?
THEN...fast forward two weeks. I’m in my room at 7:30 a.m. (an hour in which I am not exactly charming) getting some things ready for the day. I came in that morning armed with a serious To Do list (Shocker, I know! I do heart my lists...) and was feverishly crossing things off when said mother shows up and demands some of my time. (There was yelling.) How the hell she got past our security guard (Who has a serious attitude and is not afraid to use it no matter what time it is), I’ll never know. Our conversation went something like this:
Her: Mrs. Mimi! I need to talk to you!
Me: Is everything OK? Did I forget about an appointment to meet with you? (I love saying this. I totally know we didn’t have an appointment to speak, but I like to passive aggressively inform people that it is NOT COOL to just SHOW UP...it’s not like I sit with my feet up sipping a latte before the kids come in, sister.)
Her: It’s about Little Girl.
Her: She gettin’ tested??
Me: You’ll have to check with the Weave. Once the letter is sent out to request an evaluation, it’s kind of out of my hands. She should know more.
Me: Sorry, did you say something?
Her: She need to read more! (Notice all the exclamation points, please, because she was totally yelling....at 7:30 in the morning...for no apparent reason.)
Me: I agree. Right now I meet with Little Girl in a small group two times a week. I also conference with her individually another two times a week. We have a reading specialist who owes me a favor, and so I got her to work with Little Girl and additional two times a week. Each morning, I meet with her privately to discuss what she read at home the night before. She tells me that she isn’t allowed to read at home.
Her: I don’t have time for her to read.
Me: Ok, but it would be wonderful if she could have just 20 minutes of uninterrupted reading time.
Her: That’s your job, not mine. You’re supposed to do whatever my child needs. Do your job. I need to do whatever I can for my child.
Me: (Not pointing out the irony that she feels the need to do whatever she can for her child yet can’t find 20 minutes to allow her child to read at home.) I see. I would really like for us to work together on this....
Her: Look, I need you to meet with Little Girl every day during lunch. Read with her at lunch and teach her more.
Me: Pardon? (I said this not because I couldn’t hear her yelling at me, but because I again, wanted to passively aggressively make my shock at her request clear.)
Her: I said, read with her at lunch!!!! I need to do what I can for my child. And you’re supposed to do everything you can for her.
Me: I try to. But Little Girl needs time to eat, and socialize with her friends. It’s really the only free time the kids get all day. I wouldn’t want her to start to see reading as a punishment.
Her: Just do what I say. She don’t need to talk to her friends. I need to do whatever I can for my child.
Now, I understand this woman’s desire to get more instructional time for her child...BUT (and there’s always a but), dude! Really? I’m sure the kid would love it if I pulled her out of lunch EVERYDAY to read. And by the by...maybe I’d like to, oh I don’t know, eat lunch myself, or...I know it sounds crazy, use the bathroom! Get a drink of water...unheard of! I didn’t point out to this woman that I routinely WORK through my lunch because although I love my To Do Lists, I also hate them because they are endless.
Also, just for the future, showing up unannounced at a teacher’s door, yelling at her and then out of the blue accusing her of not doing her job because she expresses concern for your child’s need to eat may not be the best way to get what you want. Or start a conversation. I’m just saying...
And since she was off doing “whatever she could for her child”, I guess she didn’t have time to return the phone calls from our guidance counselor who called to talk to her about getting her daughter tested. Evidently she was SO busy doing “whatever she could for her child” that she also neglected to respond to the certified letter from the Board of Education requesting additional information to get her daughter tested. While her mother was off “doing whatever she could for her child,” Little Girl’s case was officially closed because of a lack of response from the parent (who initiated the case in the first place.)
And you’re going to tell me I’m not doing MY job? Pot? Kettle? Black? Anyone?