Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hold On, Let Me Just Bang My Head Against The Wall

Yes, it is summer. Yes, I sometimes find myself reclining with a magazine. Yes, I sleep later. Yes, I have watched a Project Runway Marathon...and I don't feel a bit guilty! I welcome these weeks when I get to shake off the struggles of last year, dream about the amazing things I'm going to do next year and RELAX. For some reason though, there is one problem/irritating situation/load of crap that just won't die.

You may remember (and if you don't, please click here and re-read...c'mon, we'll wait) that last year I had a friend in my class who was extremely lazy. I can take many things...naughty, sneaky, chatty, struggling...but I can't take lazy. Lazy blows. I worked my behind off just trying to get this kid to engage and like school, to get him to dig in and give things a shot. Seriously, I was like a one-woman show and his personal cheerleader all in one. It took a LOT of energy (and some cursing in my off-time) but, dammit, he started to feel successful and try new things. I know, I am a rockstar.

If that wasn't draining enough...his mom literally sapped me of all my energy. She was nice, polite and blah blah blah, but she drove me insane with her CONSTANT emails, her rants against administrative decisions about indoor recess (dude, if it's raining, they're going to stay inside, end of story), and her unrelenting denial about her son's academic struggles. Now, I know that it is hard to admit when your child isn't doing well in school, but you are not helping anyone by making up EXCUSES!!!!

For example, his handwriting was crap. Total crap. Light, shaky, poor letter formation..you name it. He also couldn't cut on a line to save his life. At times, it looked like he just gnawed at the paper with his teeth (still not totally convinced that that didn't happen). I told her I suspected that he had weak hand muscles and perhaps she could talk to someone about some excericses to strengthen those muscles. She said it was something to think about and then sent me a three-screen email that night explaining that he would "grow into his hands." WTF? What does that mean?

And his homework! This mom took "the dog ate it" to new levels. She told me he took several hours to complete homework..homework that should only take 30 minutes. When I implied that perhaps it was because the work was too challenging (Hello! Wake up and smell the struggles!) and suggested that we look at his (lack of) progress, she was quick to say that no, it's not his fault that his homework takes so long. It was actually her fault...She didn't undersand it's purpose and thought it was better for him to have life experiences. I think homework and responsibility is a life experience, but whatever.

Anyhow, I think you get the point. And this post is getting VERY long...but hey, it's summer, what else do you have to do? (Kidding!!)

So I guess it's too late to say, "long story short" but this friend was on my radar for the entire year. Mom respectfully disagreed with me the entire year. Which is fine. She is entitled to her opinion (even though it was wrong). At the end of the year, I met with her and laid out the pros and cons about promoting her son. I was very honest with her and tried my best to deflect all of her excuses (which was NOT easy...girlfriend is gifted in the excuse department...it's almost amazing if it wasn't so freaking annoying).

The sad part is, in our school system, a parent can dispute a teacher's decision to hold over a child (I will pause now for you to calm down, because I know you are outraged. It's OK, I understand.)...only failing "The Test" (and I do not teach a testing grade) can override a parent's choice. Yes, you heard me right...my voice means relatively little. It feels good, really, to be ignored and discarded like that. And it also makes me feel good about my YEARS of education. I mean, c'mon, ANYONE can teach, so why listen to me? (Um, so you should be picking up on my sarcasm by now...) While I think parents should have a say and be involved, I think it is RIDICULOUS that my PROFESSIONAL opinion means next to nothing. Uniformed parents (and yes, some are very informed, but let's be real...some are so not) matter more and, clearly, some dark bubbles on a scantron sheet are the gospel. Sweet.

Rant aside, my friend gets promoted. And the year is over. I feel badly about the decision...I worry that I did not do everything I could, that maybe if I had pushed harder...but, it's done now.

Or so I thought.

Evidently, mom hires The Tutor. Because having someone working with my friend once a week in the summer is going to make up for what I couldn't do in ten months. Sounds reasonable, right? (Again, you're sensing the sarcasm here, yes? If not, please...try to keep up.)

The Tutor CALLS ME. IN THE SUMMER. And talks to me for AN HOUR about my friend. She basically reiterates everything I had said all year. She questions my decision to promote said friend.

My initial reaction was, "Um, and who are you?? You are questioning my decision after working with him for two weeks? And you don't even know the story...oh, no you di-n't!"

My more rational response was to explain to her the entire situation, making it clear that I don't think my friend's mom is ready to accept her sons struggles. The Tutor (a.k.a She With Inflated Sense Of Self) declares that she is going to talk the mom into holding him over. She is going to arrange for him to be held back, even though she doesn't teach at our school. She knows how to solve the problem and help this little boy.

Good luck, sister. Let me know what happens.

22 comments:

Arielle said...

You have more patience than I ever would! I think I'd have start deleting those emails from the mother after week 2 of constant badgering. I'm impressed.

Heidi Pence said...

This story would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad! We have had similar situations at schools I work at. This will not be your last. Does it seem like more and more parents make excuses for their child's shortcomings? It does to me. Good luck with this. I feel your pain.http://hpence.blogspot.com

Noah&Maddy's Mom said...

Went to a training session where the facilitator called your friend's type of parent the "rescue parent"--always trying their d@mn best to keep their child from ever having to know what a consequence is like..all the while telling the child "you need me, see what I do for you--I save you from anything unpleasant or uncomfortable."
Confirming my belief that if we have to be licensed to teach , parents need to be licensed to be parents!!!

Stretch said...

This is crazy! I cannot imagine having a student and mother team up against me. I completely agree with your talk about laziness. I can take a lot of things but when students are lazy there is no excuse and it doesn't help you out with the parent is on the students side when it is really hurting them. At least you can watch Project Runway and dream about the new year ahead. Maybe no more of those crazy student/mom teams for you!

AverageMom said...

Holy crap. Just when you think it's summer, and safe to breathe, they find your phone number.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I too teach in a district where the parent has the final say regarding retention.

Two years ago I recommended a child for retention. The mother was completely against it and actually started yelling at me how I am not thinking of the child's best interest. (Oh really?!) Since the parent makes the call, the child was promoted to second grade.

Fast forward to this year - the girl struggles all year. Guess which parent goes to the teacher and requests her child be retained? Guess who also claims that the first grade teacher wouldn't allow for the child to be retained back in first grade?

What I find funny is that this parent thought the teacher would buy her story (as if I didn't express my concerns and my desire to retain this child at any point of the year).

I'm glad to hear that the child is going to be retained but I do wish it was done in first grade.

Ms. P. said...

Been there, done that, went back a few more times, and still hated it! I know it's frustrating and makes you want to scream, but you know you did your best for the child. Maybe "Ms. Miracle Tutor", for whatever reason, will actually be able to convince mom to go along with retaining the child and the extra help you wanted for your friend will happen. Keep your fingers crossed! :^)

17 (really 15) more years said...

I'm actually not the slightest bit shocked by your story. However, I would NOT have engaged in a conversation with that tutor for more than 5 minutes- in fact, what I would have done is refered her to your administration and have her take it up with them.

You're a better person than I am.

Cathy said...

I just realised I was reading that with clenched teeth! lol I TOTALLY understand your frustration!

Hugh O'Donnell said...

Hey Mimi, take your mind off the pain, and enjoy my vote for your blog as most humorous. ;)

Charlene said...

I feel your pain. I was "asked" to promote five high school students last year who showed up to my class maybe once a week. Apparently, grade nines are all high risk for dropping out and having them fail in thier first semester puts them on a master list that is tracked for all four years. Admin. wanted a shorter list. I refused. They went to tenth grade anyway.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I swear you took a page out of my autobiography. I think I had that mom just 2 years ago. The constant emails, the insistance on her child being tested AGAIN for resource. He didn't qualify last fall why should he qualify in the spring? All the reasons he didn't do his work in class or at home...
Then last year's teacher came to me and said, "Did you ever have him tested for Sp Ed? His mom wants him tested." Mystery Teacher

msdee said...

Like Cathy I was clenching my teeth as well. Parents who enable their childrens laziness and make excuses for them will eventually pay for it in the future.
Flash foprward to the future and mom having a jobless twenty five year old playing video games in his bedroom all day.

eduwonkette said...

I just admire your ability to see the light and funny part of all of this drama. Whenever one of my teacher friends calls banging their heads against the wall, I am going to redirect them to your site. People pay a lot of money for therapy this good, and you're offering it for free;)

Emily said...

I totally hear you on this one, hun! It's the same in my school...parent trumps teacher. Completely ridiculous!

However, I did learn one tidbit this year...if parents are divorced and one agrees with teacher and one does not, administrator in fact trumps all. Thankfully my administrator was in complete agreement with me regarding retaining my little friend. :)

And btw, the father who did not want to retain, also wanted to hire "The Tutor" to "make up" an entire grade level in 3 months. Hooray!

Mary Louise Brooks said...

This year I'm teaching summer school! I know, I'm crazy but at least the school has AC! Anyway, I HATE lazy people, too. Unfortunately, in summer school, they're all here! This year our district finally got wise to failing students, not to those students who attend for enrichment purposes. And, yes, there are some here for that reason. Regardless of whether they attend summer school or not, no child will be promoted. Reason? If they didn't learn it in 180 days, they're not going to learn it in 20 days. Amen!

Anonymous said...

i lovr yout new mini. that is what i do all day long and night with my cat. i find this very soothing leave it up for a long time.

Orion said...

LMFAO...

i hate to say it, but i've always wondered what went through the minds of my teachers.

and in conclusion to your blog, Wow.

I'm completely astonished... and amused. I guess I would just assume that my relentless wise cracks didn't go past the front doors on the school...

apparently not.

Chet Swearingen said...

Ahhh, the joys of teaching!

Anonymous said...

Sounds to me that your friend has some actual learning disabilities --which would mean he is not lazy but coping. When you see what appears to be laziness, it is worth looking deeper, like you suggested, as kids want to do well--if they can't with the tools they've got, they cope however they can. Sorry for the rant--I have seen these "lazy" kids thrive once they get the proper tools. Totally agree with all comments regarding the parent however!

Sp.Ed.Teacher

Mimi said...

I totally agree...sad part is...I tried DESPERATELY for his mother to agree to have him evaluated. Cue the excuses from Mom!!!

Thanks for reading!!

雪花 said...

福~
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語‧,最一件事,就。好,你西.............................................................................................................
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