Compare and Contrast: Parents

This week I have been so fed up with rotten kids not doing their work privileged to speak with some of my students' parents.

I called five parents.

Of the five ...

...two told me they'd discipline their kids.

What they said was, "I'll tear X up when s/he gets home."

I totally believe in the Power of the Spanking; it certainly helped me to see things more clearly when I was a kid. But I hate it when parents tell me this, just like I hate it when they bring their kids in for parent/teacher conferences and then yell at them IN FRONT OF ME for getting a bad grade. I don't want to be the instigator of bruises and butt-whoopings. And frankly, I don't think this technique works on most kids.

Guess whose children came skulking into class--late. Guess whose children pretend to work for about ten minutes and then stare into space for half an hour. Guess whose children don't want to hear about coming to my room during study hall or after school so they have extra time to get work done. Guess whose children have just done their last lick of work in my class FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR.

...One said, "[sigh] I wish I knew what to do myself."

This is worse than the first. It's always at this point that I know the phone call has been a useless waste of my time, because the parent is unable to accept/take advantage of the fact that s/he is the ADULT in the parent/child relationship, and the ADULT should be in charge, not the kid.

Guess whose kids have now been sent to the office. Guess whose kids have been sent to the office TWICE in ONE CLASS. Guess whose kids smart off not just to their teachers, but to the administrators. Guess whose kids have had detention for a full week. Guess whose kids are spending time in in-school suspension. Guess whose kids are thisclose to being sent to alternative school. Guess whose kids are going to wind up on welfare and/or in jail.

...two said, "What can I do to help you?"

Aha! Now THIS I can work with!

"[Parent]," I say. "I'm so glad you asked! I think your child's main problem is that s/he is focusing more on his/her social life than on work. With progress reports coming out next week, I definitely think X needs to realize that crunch time is upon him/her. If X is willing to work WHILE IN CLASS [this is important], I will gladly stay after school a couple of days this week so s/he can make up the time s/he has lost so far. After a couple of days, I think X will realize that YOU take his/her education seriously, so maybe s/he should start doing so as well."

"Ms. Flower," says the parent. "I will tell my child tonight what you told me. X will be there after school tomorrow. Thank you for telling me this now [this is also important; this type of parent likes to nip things in the bud FAST] so we can start adjusting his/her attitude before it's too late. Please call me if there are any more problems."

Guess whose children were in my room after school today, doing more work in ONE HOUR than they had previously done in TWO WEEKS. Guess whose children ignored their friends in class and were reading and writing for the full ninety minutes. Guess whose children will NOT be seeing Fs on their progress reports. Guess whose children are going to learn that a good education starts with THEM.

Guess what teacher is spending the rest of the week calling parents.


Dree said...

Sometimes it just doesn't matter how good a teacher is... parents and home environment usually have the biggest effect on the way the students behave. I'm glad at least two of the parents were willing to work with you. Good luck with the others!

Lisa said...

CLAP!CLAP!CLAP!CLAP!CLAP!CLAP!CLAP! Yea for you! Go Girl! Can I post this at my kids' school?

From the proud parent of two well adjusted children who mind their parents, are disciplined (most of the time) and are still sweet, happy kids.

I know you cannot tell parents things they do not want to know. Good Luck.

Mei said...

Thanks, ladies! It suddenly became clear to me, as I was writing this post, just how easily I can identify a parent "type" by his/her child's behavior.
Lisa, of course you can post this! I'm sure some of the teachers at your kids' school already know this stuff ... sometimes it takes me a while to learn!

Laura said...

I hadn't actually classified these responses so carefully, and though I've had a few diverge from these, this is the most accurate parent assessment I've seen in a while!

All newbie teachers should read this!

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