Saturday, January 26, 2013
It's been a long, trying week.
After my last blog post, I went to my director to figure out a solution and we MAY have one. It will inconvenience a couple people, but they don't feel I am worthy of being asked to present about anything anyway... My director is supposed to present at a different part of the conference as well the same day, so we needed to come up with a solution that she can be comfortable with too... So this may be a non-issue soon.
The following day, I gave two assessments. One in grammar and one in vocabulary. I wanted to see if what/how I am teaching is something the kids can transfer to another situation if it's presented differently--regurgitation vs. application (which is where I want them to be). I noticed that two girls were shooting one another knowing glances...and a piece of paper appeared and disappeared... Another student started to get up to tell me about it... They were cheating. One had asked the other (and I found out later three other kids near her) for answers...and the other chose to reply.
This was problematic for obvious reasons, but moreso because the primary cheater is the daughter of a staff member who never believes that her child does anything wrong...but she usually is really doing something wrong, and she's usually who starts problems/drama. Nothing is ever her child's fault. It is not her child's fault that she is late to school every single day by 15 minutes to a half hour. It is not her child's fault when another kid has her feelings hurt, even though she started a full petition to "unfriend" this girl publicly. It's not her child's fault that she earned a C in a class because her child chose not to turn in much work and was off task in class discussions, thereby earning that grade. Her daughter spends afternoons and evenings running through the halls, screaming and playing with other staff kids, going into teachers' classrooms without permission, all with an incredible sense of entitlement.
So, I sat on the cheating for a couple hours. I went to talk to our director about next steps because of the kids involved and all the prior issues on record. The kids both met with her and had to research and write essays about integrity. I went back to my classroom at my plan time, and there her mother sat. In my room..without me. She said well I didn't have anything else to do, so I thought I would "hang out" here with you. I told her I had work to do, but that rather than email her as I planned, I needed to let her know about something that happened in class. And I told her that her daughter had cheated, that there were consequences at school, and that I expected her to have a conversation about her daughter's actions at home as well. I told her, because no one else ever has apparently, that her child believes she does not have to follow the same rules that the rest of the school does and that this sense of entitlement has to be dealt with. As her mother, it is her JOB to instill integrity, responsibility, and a sense to respect for others in her daughter, and at this point, that's not happening. I operate my classroom with a high level of trust and extremely high expectations and her child has violated them both by cheating. I can no longer trust her to do what is right. I was harsh. Polite, but harsh.
And the tears started. It's not her fault, she said, her mother (the child's grandmother) lets DD do whatever she pleases (they live in grandma's house) and there are never consequences. It's not her fault, her daughter's been sick (not untrue, but basic expectations should have been kept throughout the illness--things like being on time, doing basic chores, having simple responsibilities). She's so tired of people telling her that her kid is bad, that she's a bad mother. And so I asked her, then what are you going to do so change that perception? It's one thing if ONE person says that it is so. It's another entirely if MANY people are bringing it to your attention. Bottom line, you need to be a MOTHER to your child. Follow through with consequences no matter how much YOU are inconvenienced--this is about building a good, responsible, respectful human being, not about what is easiest for you. I told her that she needs to have a harsh conversation with her mother and father, and that she needs to be the PARENT. She gave birth to that child, and her job didn't stop once the kid was out.
I was angry. I am tired of people who expect that the world accommodate them, make exceptions for them, and do things FOR them because *sob sob sob* is happening TO them. I'm tired of people who don't do their jobs. I am tired of making exceptions because parents can't parent.
And she was angry. She felt that I was wrong to discipline her child, that it wasn't a big deal, that I should have let it go. It wasn't her fault after all.
I'm sorry, WHAT? YOUR child wrote a note to someone sitting nearby, and it is her writing CLEAR AS DAY asking what the answers to numbers 8-12 are. How is your child not at fault? How is that NOT cheating?
My entire plan time disappeared. She vented at me and turned everything I said into "but that's not MY responsibility because..." She vented and gave me sob stories about how no one respects her, she's been stabbed in the back by other teachers because they went to the director about her behavior and irresponsibility. She sobbed and cried that it's not fair that she has to do so much. She cried that her parents don't respect her and walk all over her. It turned very quickly from what to do about her daughter to how awful and sad her own life is.
Did I handle all this well? Probably not all of it, I'll admit that. It's difficult to have a professional "parent/teacher" conversation with someone who is technically a parent AND a fellow staff member (not a teacher tho...an aide who has spent three years lobbying to be *MY* aide which I have shot down every time.) who has absolutely no boundaries and sees you as their "friend" when you've done nothing to foster that idea at all.
After school that day, I let my director know that the conversation I was hoping to avoid happened during what was supposed to be my planning period, and that mom was on the rampage about the cheating and felt that the consequences of the infraction were a personal attack on her and her parenting and professional skills, so that IF she came to my director, at least she'd be prepared.
I noted that while I'm reading this book "Fierce Conversations" I've been observing how easy it is for the author to facilitate and have these difficult conversations because once it's over, he can leave and move on to another organization... When I have one, I am stuck there. There's no escape.
Case in point: The same mother I had a fierce conversation with yesterday came in after school yesterday to chat some more while I had other kids in my room working, and TOLD me we are going to lunch next weekend. I don't WANT to go to lunch. I have stuff to do and I don't want to hang out with people (I don't care for) I work with on the weekends. *gah*
It never ends.
Upside this week, the scales admitted I lost some weight. We'll see if they continue to admit it.