When I was a kid, if there was a problem, my parents went to the teacher. Well, there was never a problem with me, I was a “goody-goody.” As a teacher during the 80’s and 90’s, the parent would voice their concerns, to me. However, there seems to be a trend now where the parents skip the teacher, and go straight to the principal, or God forbid, the DISTRICT! Yesterday, I received an email from my principal,” Ms H, Jane’s mother (names have been changed to protect the guilty) called and would like you to call her and explain the grading system. ” Huh? This parent is new to our district, so she might not be familiar with our grading system, that’s not a problem for me, that’s understandable. My problem is that she and I have sent emails back and forth where I have answered any questions she has had, why at this point did she feel she had to call my principal? And no, she never asked me about the grading system. Now understand, I send my students’ tests home with a checklist with the grading system on it. She signed the checklist, if she had a question, why didn’t she write it on the comments line? Why didn’t she email me or call me? Thankfully, I have a very supportive principal, because this seems to be a growing trend. One year I had a parent write a letter to President Obama(I’m not kidding) because her ill-mannered child couldn’t get used to the fact that there were consequences in my classroom. I believe it goes back to the whole idea of respect for the teacher has gone out the window. It’s as if, the teachers are not that important, which is strange, since we spend the better part of the day with their child. I feel as if it undermines my authority when a parent skips me and goes straight to the principal. Why wouldn’t you tell me that Sam is bothering Trisha in the classroom? Why would you call my principal to tell him your child was upset because she couldn’t get on the SMARTboard today? If a parent comes to me, and is not satisfied with the results, I say go for it. But it would be nice, if they came to me first.
At our meeting today, my principal said, ” They skip you and come straight to me.”
Comments on: "Come to Me!" (6)
Consider calmly discussing it with the parent.
“The principal told me you contacted him/her about grading. I’m concerned I missed any questions you had about class policies. I know you’re new to our district and want to do what I can to make you to feel comfortable about coming to me any time.”
Yes, that’s usually how I approach it. I allow the parent to tell me their concerns. I don’t talk, I just listen, and that usually helps.
Yes, but have you done any repair with that parent?
Yes, of course. It’s funny though, when you meet with some of them in person, all the complaints they shared with the principal, they don’t share with you. I don’t feel as if anything needs to be repaired with the parent asking about the grading system, she just went about asking for information the wrong way. It’s the other ones I am talking about. It depends on the parent, some you can repair, and some you never repair.
You contradicted yourself. I asked if you repaired with that parent, you said yes, then you said you don’t need to repair with that parent.
If your frustration is that parents go over your head because they don’t think of you as the leader, then you need to take a moment to gently reassert and identify yourself as a leader. “Lead” is an action verb.
As an experienced parent who has been made miserable by parents at work and finds parents the biggest pains in the system, I assure you this is a good choice. They need to be steered and guided. You can’t lament that they don’t know how to act and then ignore an opportunity to train and teach. This is the reality of 21st Century American public education.
What I should have said is “needed to be repaired” in regards to that parent. What she did was minor, no big deal. It just brought to mind the other more serious cases where this has happened. As I said, I do what I can to have a good relationship with my parents, they are not the enemy, and the majority of the time, I do. However, there are those , who no matter what I do or say, will not change their opinion of me. I can lament these situations, because I do try to “steer and guide.” You can’t reaach everyone, you can only try.