Showing posts with label parent meetings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parent meetings. Show all posts

Monday, March 07, 2011

I Won't Make the Majors with this Batting Average

Three parent meetings.

Three cancellations.

But hey, at least they called/emailed...about 5 minutes before the meeting.

With this batting average, I won't ever make the Majors.

Update 3/15/11 - Had a parent meeting today (scheduled by the parent).  Can you guess what happened?  Yup, another no-show.  I am now 0 for 4.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

When Kids Are In Charge

I really like my kids, for the most part, this year.  (Okay, I hate my Seventh Period Class From the Very Depths of Hell Itself but there are kids in there I like - it's just the combination of kids which make me crazy).

Their parents, on the other hand, are making me insane.

Case in point.  We have a kid I'll call Absent Boy, because, you guessed it, he's absent all the time.  He misses every test.  He misses every benchmark.  He's usually gone on Fridays and often times he's gone on Mondays.  When he comes back he's healthy as a horse, nary a sniffle or a sore throat in sight.  In short, he basically tells his mom when he wants to come to school and she lets him get away with it.   He was absent yesterday, the day we had our two hour delay, and when one of the teachers asked him why, he said, "Well, there was a two hour delay and we didn't know if they'd cancel, and mom didn't know how she'd get me to school, so I didn't come". (Did this lady never hear of a bus?)

Absent Kid has a whopping 37% in my class and he's pretty much doing the same in all his other classes.  He's a bright kid, when you can get something out of him, which isn't often.  He is on an IEP as a special education student, but seriously, he does well on the things he does.  He is capable.  As a sped kid he can turn in late work (never does) and in my class he gets a homework helper which basically is an answer key to help him do his homework.  All he has to do is copy it and turn it in.  But he doesn't.  He has, in fact, informed his sped case manager and the enrichment teacher that he's not bothering to do much in seventh grade since he'll get passed anyway because he's on an IEP.   He won't even turn in things we do in class.

We have tried to get his mother to come in for a meeting.  She'll agree to a meeting, then five minutes before she is to show up, she'll call and cancel.  Today, yet again, she pulled this stunt. So we have yet to get her in here (she also apparently doesn't show up at IEP meetings either.)

This kid is running the house.  If we wanted any more evidence of this, Mr. Math ran into Absent Mom (how appropriate) and Absent Boy at a local fast food join yesterday.  Absent Boy didn't see Mr. Math at first and was running around being a brat and talking back to his mom.  She told him he couldn't have something and he went off and slapped her in the face!  And. She. Did. Nothing.

Apparently this is her coping mechanism...to do nothing.  The kid talks back...she does nothing.  He fails his classes...she does nothing.  He whines and complains and wants to stay home from school...she does nothing.

But I'm the one being held accountable.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Can Anyone Find a Parent?

We handed out report cards last Friday.  Unlike some buildings in the district who have gone all electronic, we still do the paper report card.  Seems only about 20% of our parents bother to sign on to PowerSchool so this is about the only way we can make sure they see their darling's grades.  Even then, it's a gamble that the report card will make it home, but at least they can see the staple holes in the agenda where it had originally been stapled.

Out of 125 kids, 30 of them earned an F in science, mainly because (all together now), they don't turn in work, don't study for tests.  (A good sign, however, is I have two special ed kids with B's because they do all their work.  It can be done.)

Along with the report cards we sent out a team newsletter (which probably won't be read), a full color booklet from the State about test scores and high standards and high expectations and how you need to be engaged with your child and make sure they study and do their homework, blah, blah, blah (which probably won't be read), and then a BRIGHT PINK form to use to sign up for parent conferences, which start on Thursday.  The form is pretty straighforward.  We schedule individual appointments, so it said to put the name of the teacher you wish to see by the time slot you prefer.

Any guess on how many parents sent back the parent conference form?

Better yet...any guess on how many parents sent it back filled out CORRECTLY and actually followed the directions and put in the names of the teachers they want to see at the time slot they preferred (unlike most who simply put their kid's name by a time slot, leaving us to wonder who, exactly, they want to visit with)?

How does twelve sound?

Yup.  Twelve.  125 kids, tons of F's in all subjects, and we get twelve parents who plan to visit.

Now granted, we may get a bunch of walk-ins, especially if the weather is good and not raining, but truth be told, we may just be sitting there all night with nothing to do.

And my ass is on the line if these kids don't pass the Very Big Deal Government Mandated Test...and every study on earth points to parent involvement as the key factor in academic achievement.

And my parents really don't want to be bothered.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stuck in the Middle

One thing that I've noticed as a teacher is that most parents don't exactly see eye to eye when it comes to their child's education. It seems that oftentimes one of the parents is a little more squishy about things while the other one is demanding results. You've got the parent who believes the cherub when she says she's done all her work (and doesn't bother to check) and then you've got the other parent who's demanding to see everything, checking the agenda, and is signing in to PowerSchool on an daily basis.

When they're living together - and communicating - everything usually works itself out.

However, when they aren't living together - and aren't communicating - it can be a nightmare.

This year, it seems, we have more parents who need parenting classes and family counseling than I've ever seen before. These people are not agreeing on how to raise their child and are doing their darndest to get us in the middle.

Two sets of parents come to mind - Cool Dude's parents, and Spoiled Princess's parents.

Cool Dude has one overriding goal in life and that is to be the hippest, coolest, hottest dude in the seventh grade. This kid has the hottest clothes, the trendiest hair cut, he is so cool he can freeze a six-pack of Diet Coke. He is also one of the laziest kids I've ever seen - he's absolutely perfectly capable of passing seventh grade, should he get over himself long enough to turn in work.

Cool Dude lives during the week with Cool Dad. Cool Dad does not really stress, as far as we can tell, academics. No one checks Cool Dude's agenda, no one checks to see if he's done his work, no one is harping on him to study for his tests (even though Cool Dad and Cool Mom are both getting our weekly emails and both have access to PowerSchool.) As far as I can tell Cool Dude and Cool Dad are just hanging out and chillin' all week long together. On the weekend Cool Dude goes and lives with Mom and it really hits the fan. She gets on to PowerSchool, checks his grades, sees all the missing assignments and fires off email after email to us about "What can we do to help him pass seventh grade?"

Cool Mom is a recent education graduate and has done some subbing recently for a special ed class. She has decided that Cool Dude must be special ed (after all, he's failing) and has demanded he be tested. Now keep in mind, Cool Dude has been tested - and he reads at a 12th grade level. He has Proficient and Advanced Very Big Deal Government Mandated Test Scores. He has, on multiple times, admitted to all of us (but obviously not to Cool Mom) that he's just lazy and he can do the work if he feels like it. However, we are having to jump through the hoops with progress monitoring, and data collection just to make sure all our ducks are in a row when we tell her that no, under the state and federal guidelines, your kid is not going to qualify for special ed. Last time we looked being cool and lazy was not a learning disability. (On a side note, when our special ed secretary called Cool Dad to invite him to a meeting, his comment was, "There's a problem at school?")

What I really want to tell Cool Mom is to get a change of custody so that she has Cool Dude during the week and can hammer him every night about his school work, and she can turn him over to Cool Dad and they can waste their weekends away together being, oh, cool.

We have never met Spoiled Princess Girl's mother. We have, however, met dad (many times) and Nana (although we're not sure how Nana is related, if she's a Great Aunt, a grandmother, a stranger down the block, no one has bothered to explain this to us.) Dad likes to drop in whenever he's in the mood, for impromptu meetings. Often times when we're in the middle of something like, say, teaching our classes.

The last meeting was interesting. Dad is harping on SPG about how she's not working hard enough (and waving a box of shoes at her that he's taken away and is returning to the store), Nana is saying he's too soft and She Wouldn't Have Bought Those Shoes as SPG Shouldn't Be Rewarded For What She's Supposed to Be Doing in The First Place, and we're sitting there watching the three of them squabble for what seems like hours with absolutely no result.

"Uhm, is there any way we could perhaps get SPG's mom in for a meeting?" we finally ask in the middle of the squabble.

"Oh, that woman, she won't come," Nana says. Nana crosses her arms and looks sour.

"She won't come," says Dad. "She says SPG is doing her hardest and that's all she's expected to do, and I know she can do better."

"And you know SPG is always gonna do what her mother says because it's the easy way out," says Nana.

We finally suggested perhaps SPG's Dad set up a meeting with the guidance counselor and see if SPG's mom could come and they could do some family counseling.

Which of course SPG's mom apparently refused to do.

Which leaves us...nowhere....

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Obnoxious Folder

Anyone remember Elf Boy? He's a tiny little guy in my 5th period who, from what we can tell from previous test scores and grades, is really quite capable but who turns in ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Nothing at all. He has one of the lowest grades out of all the kids in my classes. He never needs to be told to fill out the "why I didn't have my homework" slip and nine times out of ten his explanation is "lost it" or "forgot it at home". He must fill out about a dozen of these a week in between all his classes. He did get enrolled in after school tutoring and his tutoring teacher is, thankfully, snatching all his completed work as soon as it's done and putting it in my mailbox so I can disburse it to the rest of the teachers on The Team.

I've been trying to get a hold of mom for months to get a meeting set up and finally - finally! - this week she actually returned a phone call. She couldn't come in for a meeting due to her job, but she could do a teleconference. So, I set one up and we called her, put her on speakerphone and we all had a nice chat about Elf Boy and his grades.

Mom seemed very nice, and sweet, and very concerned that although she sees him "do all his homework and put it in his binder/bookbag", she doesn't have any idea why none of it gets turned in. None at all.

So, we put in a plan something that has worked well in the past - The Obnoxious Folder. The Obnoxious Folder is the brightest, garish, most eye-popping folder with pockets that we can find which is to go home with Darling Cherub every night. Cherub does homework and it all goes into the Obnoxious Folder. The parent is supposed to supervise, and in some cases staple, to make sure the work is Done and In The Folder. The parent then makes sure the folder, which is obnoxiously garish and loud, is then placed into the bookbag which is usually deep, dark and has some of the same properties as black holes. The idea is that the folder is so obnoxious it can't get lost - like all the homework has been doing for the past year. The next morning the first thing this child does after he/she arrives at school is to personally hand me the folder. I usually snatch them up during hall duty when I see them walk in from the buses, and make the kid stop, open the backpack and fish out the folder. At that point, I empty the folder, give it back to the cherub and send him and her off on their merry way.

This has worked pretty well in the past because I now have custody of the work, and it takes me a minute or so to deliver it to the teachers who assigned it. No big deal as I usually have to check in and talk to them about something anyway. If I'm short on time, I put it in the mailboxes.

Well, Elf Mom loved this idea. I had given Elf Boy a BRIGHT YELLOW folder the day before and she was going to make sure he had it EVERY NIGHT and she'd make sure he put all his finished work in it EVERY NIGHT, and that he'd hand it to me EVERY MORNING, and life would be wonderful because finally, finally, finally, Elf Boy would turn in his assignments. Elf Mom is ecstatic because this is a great idea, it's something she could do, and it will solve all her problems.

Except it's not working out that way.

Most mornings when I intercept Elf Boy in the hallway, he has his yellow folder. It is EMPTY. And those are on the mornings he remembers to bring it back to school. I asked him if his mom was watching him put his work in the folder like she said she would and he hems and haws, and finally admits that no, she's not checking on him. He can't understand why the work isn't there. (Elves again?) Like mom, he swears he's doing it.

Really now.

So Elf Mom, who promised she'd watch him put all the homework she sees him do every night into his folder...hasn't even managed to do that for one single day. Not one. Two weeks now and the only thing this folder is getting is banged up from going in and out of the backpack every day.

(Any guess on who's going to be held accountable for this kid's education? Let me clue you in...it won't be him and it won't be his mom.)

I got with Mrs. Reading Teacher a few days ago to discuss the folder issue. Her comment? "I sort of thought about sending a stapler home to help her staple his work to the folder, but I'm not sure that would even work."

Sad to say, she's probably right.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

When Good Kids Choose Rotten Friends

We had a meeting this week with a parent that we were, in all honesty, not really looking forward to meeting. Her daughter is one of the absolutely most annoying kids I have this year. It's hard, honestly, to come up with anything nice to say about a kid who has such an unpleasant personality (and we had heard rumors that the apple didn't fall far from the tree), so we weren't exactly wanting to meet mom.

However. Mom really needed to get in to see us (I even put that in the comments section on the report card) because she has a kid who should be an A B student and who has, in nearly all her classes, a solid F. Not just a basic F, but a real bad, nearly hard to recover from F. Passing is 70%...she has a 54% average for me. We're talking 26 missing assignments last semester. Referrals for constant tardies. Backtalk. She Will Not Shut Up. Other kids complain about her constant talking, note passing, and generally annoying behavior. So, she's in an isolation seat and spends most of the class period staring at me with absolute disgust.

Mom was concerned. Mom was getting some of the same rotten behavior at home. Mom couldn't understand how a kid could go from straight A's in elementary school and land with straight F's in middle school. We even had Mr. Enforcer there explaining to mom why we put her in the enrichment class (for kids who have shown they have the ability, but for whatever reason, won't work.)

Truthfully, it came down to her best friend. Snotty Girl has chosen the absolute worst friends she could possibly find. She hangs with the low achievers, the kids in trouble all the time, the kids who do absolutely no work - her best friend hasn't passed a single class since she hit middle school. And since she wants to fit in, because being smart isn't cool or popular, she acts just as stupid and ignorant as they do.

We mentioned this to Mom and she agreed. Mom wasn't wild about her friends either. So, we took a look at her schedule and decided to break up the little duo and separate her from The Best Friend. Mom basically said, "Do whatever it takes," (which was nice to hear for a change) and we brought Snotty Girl in and broke the news to her.

She was LIVID.

She was mad at us, mad at Mr. Enforcer, and FURIOUS at her mother.

We had her schedule changed by the time her electives were over and we put her in our classes that were heavily stacked with the nicer, smarter kids. In fact, she ended up in my favorite class, my "girl class" which has only 6 boys and 15 girls. It's a great class with high achievers and just really nice kids.

Snotty Girl sulked and pouted all day, even when I put her in a group and didn't stick her back in isolation (and she hasn't made a peep). She also asked if she could have a second chance and make up a missing assignment (I told her she had one day).

Her friend? She was mad and pouted all day as well. In fact, they're both still pouting. Her friend was SHOCKED - just SHOCKED - that Snotty Girl's mother actually let THEM CHANGE HER SCHEUDLE.

I guess I'm a them.

In any case, I think we did the right thing. If nothing else it quieted these two down for a bit and Snotty Girl actually turned in some work. Amazing.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Fuzzy Expectations

We met on Wednesday afternoon with Snow Day Mom, who, thankfully, didn't have Snow Day Dad along with her. It became pretty obvious that mom is a bit relaxed on things and dad is the one with the combative personality.

It actually was a pretty interesting meeting. We had Mr. Enforcer there (we always ask for an admin to be at parent meetings if we think there may be an issue with a parent). I love having Mr. Enforcer at a meeting because he lays it all on the line and he always, always, has our back. So yesterday he looks at Snow Day Mom and asks, "So, what are your expectations for Snow Day Girl?"

Mom blinks and says, "Well, Dad would like for her to have all A's, but I'd be happy with a high D."

What on Earth? No wonder the kid is just kind of sitting there. The parents can't even agree on what they think she should do!

I always bring a copy of the study guide with me to parent meetings because my parents should be reading it. I send a copy home with every kid and on the back it has a study log that needs to be signed by the parent every night when the little cherub has studied his or her vocabulary cards. Most of my kids can't seem to pry a parent signature out of their parents or, better yet, the parents have never seen this form.

Even though I email a copy to all the parents on my email list and talk about it constantly in my weekly emails.

BTW, I borrowed this study guide format from Elementary History Teacher when she posted it on her blog a few years ago. It is awesome. UPDATE: I've had people ask for a link to Elementary History Teacher's study guide. It is found in her archives from September 2008. Go there, and you should find it. She does a much better job of explaining her study guide than I ever could.

In any case, Snow Day Mom had seen the study guide. But she admitted that she "never really remembers to get it signed", and then she asks a bombshell of a question. "Do you do other tests, or just vocabulary?"

At this point our jaws about his the floor. Why? Because there's a section on the study guide that says, "The UNIT and VOCABULARY tests (note, plural) will be given on...". It also has all the questions that students should be able to answer so they will do well on the UNIT test, the standards, the page numbers in the book the information is found on, and about a zillion other references to a UNIT test on it. It was obvious that mom sort of just skimmed the whole thing and keyed in for some reason on the vocabulary.

And then, of course, was the fact that she missed all the "UNIT test" grades on the progress reports.

"I guess I should check PowerSchool a bit more," she admitted.

Amazing.