Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh, Snap!

I was doing so well, too! But, I dropped the ball yesterday and instead of propping my eyelids open to enlighten you all with more of my inane jabber, I fell dead asleep at about 8:04 last night. On the 27th day- it's like watching someone with a winning streak in poker bet it all on a pair of twos and lose it all! Ok, that's a bit reaching, but you get the idea.

Here's a question for you teacher-types: Do your schools have some kind of protocol or policy regarding parents coming to observe?

Here's a question for you non-teachers, lest you feel left out: What do you think is reasonable and acceptable with regard to parents coming to observe a classroom?

Here's why I ask: Today I was in the middle of teaching and I got a phone call from the office. "There's a parent here who would like to come and observe your class." To which I responded, "you have got to be kidding. No phone call, no appointment?" The secretary responded with, "Well, we're going to have her talk to someone before she comes down, because she's getting a little belligerent..". I could hear the woman in the background- yelling about taking an interest in her child's education, blah, blah, blah. So, I said, sure, send her down, why not?

The woman in question is the mother of a frightfully average to below average student of mine. He is a senior, and has a whopping 14 on his ACTs (out of 36, for those of you SAT people.) He vacillates between a B- and a C+ in my Spanish 4 class, which is pretty good for him. But, his parents seem to think that his C+ in my Spanish class is messing up his gradepoint average and will interfere with his ability to go to college. They called for a conference last term and I gently tried to tell them that he was really working hard and to the best of his ability. Is there a nice way to tell them that their son's quite average, he's not a real go-getter and that they should take the C+ gracefully, because quite frankly, he's not going to do much better than that?

She did come observe my explanation and review of the present subjunctive (I'm sure she was like "what. the. hell. is the short lady saying?") The class is huge, so there are no extra chairs- we got her a place to sit, and I did ask if she'd rather sit by her son. Of course I did that on purpose- I'm sure he would rather have dug out his eyeballs with a ballpoint pen than have his mommy sit by him in class.

I don't mean to sound like I don't ever want parents to come observe my class, but how about a phone call, an appointment, a heads up? I don't have anything to hide, but what if we had been doing something completely mundane, like taking a test, or watching a movie? What if she would have disrupted my classroom? Does she have the right to do that?

Oh, and just so everyone knows? Girls who sit with their purses in their laps, with one hand in the purse and keep looking down? Aren't fooling anyone into thinking they aren't im-ing their friends.


Blogger Adeline said...

oh my gosh, that sounds like a teacher nightmare.

belligerent and screaming in the office? and you said send her on in? well good for you! I have seen parents do crazy bad things, things i never would have suspected the well intentioned of. One was making all 8 of the kids teachers sit through a 2 hour long meeting talking about the kid, who never comes to class. taxpayer dollars at work! there should be principle stating this is ridiculous and wasteful.

i guess i would have done the same thing you did, and would have felt the exact same way, and if i were the kid i would have gouged out my eyes will a pen too.

my personal best was when i gave a kid a detention because he blew me off in a study hall (study hall teachers carry no weight, so it is quite hard to leverage in there). I asked him a question and he just looked at me and kept going on out the door. he was a star basketball player and he was day mommy came to school. if i was that kid, i would have wanted to die. she told me i was a racist for giving the detention. And when i told her it was an issue of behavior and respect, she accused me of saying her son was disrespectful. huh? well yeah, in this case, he was. and to make it all better? he was best friends with the principals son--like he would go over to the principal's house and watch tv and stuff. so guess what i did?

i washed my hands. it was in my first 2 months of teaching.
man i need to get my own flippin blog.

11/28/2006 11:12 PM  
Blogger happychyck said...'re in the shoes I wore last month. Our district's policy is that teachers get 24 hour notice if we have a parent visitor; however, there was a time this year that wasn't honored. My supervisor apologized up and down, but she couldn't put the parent off. And it was one of those crazy days when every single student was doing something different and the order of it could have only made sense to us.

So, this parent came to my class, but I wasn't sure why. I thought he was there to keep up on his son, but he had been instructed to not talk to me, his son, or other student. But I guess he thought it would be okay to take calls on his cell phone though. Toward the end of the class period I received notification about a parent meeting that had been set up with the team and the parent for the next day. The parent didn't show.

Then about 3 weeks later I find myself in the principal's office in the middle of a big mess because apparently the parent had issues with me and my class--only I didn't know. I thought he was keeping up on his kid. Or so I hoped because I do get a little paranoid and trust parents even less than I trust teenagers. Anyway, while he was in my classroom, he had been observing me! (He actually came back another time, too.) Actually, he didn't see anything wrong with my class, but he did have issues with my policies--the ones that were on the syllabus that he signed.

It's a big freakin' mess that just doesn't go away. But then it's not just happening to me (one other teacher on my team is wearing a target, too) and our admins are supportive and sympathetic.

But kudos to you for being so professional. Everyday we have to punt on something...

11/29/2006 12:50 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

Why is it that they're okay with the syllabi until their little angels start violating the policies? Then, suddenly, there's obviously something "wrong" with our class.

11/29/2006 6:41 AM  
Blogger MsAbcMom said...

My school has no policy but I highly doubt that the office staff would allow somone who just drops in (much less acts belligerently) to come in to class.

What I can't stop is the fact that parents usually don't stop by the office unless they are there to pick up their kids. Many of my students' parents come directly to my room at any given time to ask about student progress, give meds to their kids or to ask me to help them fill out paperwork that they can't understand in English for housing, bills, worker's comp, etc. It drives me batty when parents come in like that.

As far as parent observations, I have only been observed by a parent once in my 12 years of teaching and that was this year. A parent thought that I was totally off base when I told her that her daughter was disruptive and never did her work. She came in to "help" but was busy watching me. After the 3rd straight day that she was there not only was the parent bored out of her skull but she wasx also extremely aware of the fact thet I was telling the truth. She then told me that she had other commitments and that she appreciated everything I did with daughter and said that she would pray for me.
Go figure!

11/29/2006 8:13 AM  
Blogger Nic said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/29/2006 10:12 AM  
Blogger Mister Teacher said...

Well, though I didn't have any parents observing today, I did get a note from a parent which said, "I don't understand how my daughter can get a 60 on her classwork grade with the teacher right there!"
(Progress reports had gone home yesterday)
Ummm, if she doesn't do much in class and most of what she DOES do is incorrect, am I obligated to pass her?

11/29/2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger ms-teacher said...

our contract states that teachers much be given 24 hours notice if a parent wants to come and observe. In my opinion, we are professionals and should be treated as such.

11/29/2006 11:43 PM  
Blogger marsha_tm said...

My kids are in elementary school so this may not apply, but our school has a call-ahead policy about observing classrooms. Everyone has to check in at the front desk - if the teacher knows you're coming they let you in, but teachers are phoned in the classroom about unexpected visitors.

I volunteer quite a bit and practically live on their campus, so I usually just get the "You AGAIN?" wave-through.

11/30/2006 1:31 AM  
Blogger Wendy Boucher said...

I'm a non-teacher and while I confess that I wish I could watch my daughter at school through a one-way mirror, I wouldn't dream of disrupting the class - nor would I see it as my right. My Girlie is in a Montessori school and believe me, they keep parents well out of the classrooms unless it's special visit because they don't want the children distracted. Boy can I understand that. I have a lot of respect for teachers.

11/30/2006 5:03 PM  
Blogger Teacher lady said...

Wow. Perhaps I will stop be-yotching about the college kids. The worst thing THEIR parents do is call me, demand to know their kids' grades, remind me that THEY'RE paying my salary with the outrageous tuition and technically I work for THEM, so give up the grades. And then I talk about FERPA and not wanting to break the law and sorry, but nope-sies.

However, I have a feeling I will be seeing this student AND his mother in my class someday. If your kid is average, why MUST it be someone's fault? And usually the teacher's? I'm sorry, but that's ridiculous.

12/07/2006 8:13 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Bluebird said...

At my building there isn't any policy regarding parent observations, although we usually get a parent making the requst before they show up (or not). I did have one ambush this year when the office called and said one of my parents would like to sit in on class if it was okay with skin off my nose, and I enjoyed meeting her. The one that really honked me off was in my first year of teaching when one of my students knocked on my door during another class period. I opened it up, thinking he needed something like the book he always left in my room, only to see him step back and his "mentor" step in, and proceed to try to engage me in an conversation about the student's grades, attendance, and lack of motivation. I was so shocked I stood there for a minute before I finally pulled it together and said, "Sir, I hate to be rude, but I'm in the middle of teaching a class. I have 28 kids in there I need to devote my time to so if you'd like to talk about X's grades, it would really be better to make an appointment so I can give you my full attention." He got the hint and left. I found out later that he had come up to the front office to talk with X, then ducked down the hallway when the secretaries were busy on the phone. They were livid with him when I told them what happened.

12/09/2006 8:41 PM  

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