Wednesday, November 15, 2006


We have decided that this is the Year of the Meddling Parent. Actually Mrs. Language wanted to call it the Year of the Dumbass Parent, but we figured that was too generic.

Case in point.

We have a mom I'll call Helicopter Mom because she's one of those moms who hovers over her child (apparently Time Magazine did a recent story on this phenomenom). Her son, Chopper Boy, is a great kid. He's polite, he's studious, and a very good student. His mother, however, doesn't seem to think so. I have no idea where she got the idea that her child is slow, but she's said, numerous times, that he is. Maybe it's because his handwriting isn't the best, or perhaps during a phase of his life in elementary school something was difficult, but honestly, this kid is one of my better students. Of course, part of it is because he does every single homework assignment, every single opportunity for extra credit, and he studies for every test. This is because Helicopter Mom is hovering over her child making sure he's dotting his "i's" and crossing his "t's" and all but doing his work for him. He was out sick one week but she insisted bringing him to school after everyone was dismissed to sit in my room and take a make-up test so he wouldn't get too far behind. The kid looked like he needed to be in bed, but he struggled through it. I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd been running a fever.

This past week Mrs. Eagle, Mrs. Robin, and I introduced our Cell Organelle PowerPoint project. We used to have the kids make physical models of plant or animal cells with all the organelles labeled but decided against it for several reasons. One, we're sick of grading parents' work. It's obvious that many of the projects weren't done by 12 or 13-year olds, and was even more obvious when you asked a kid a question about the project and they just blinked at you. Second, we just don't have the space to sit 100 or so projects in our room. And third, with 52% of our kids on free and reduced lunch, many parents don't have the resources to buy supplies to make a project, and then you have the parents who have the money who spend $50 to make a project for their kids. It's just easier to have them do an in-class technology project - this way we know what they can do, and they're getting tech skills in the bargain.

I get an email from Helicopter Mom that she does not approve of this project. (Since when did she get approval over our assignments?) She wanted to send me an email to afford me the opportunity to "explain" myself before she took her complaints "further". She does not feel that it's fair to require the students to do a technology project since "most of your students probably don't know PowerPoint and I'm sure most of their parents don't either." Considering that 90% of my kids, by a show of hands, informed me that they know PowerPoint, I don't think this is an issue. However, since apparently her child types slow and doesn't know PowerPoint and "I don't know PowerPoint so I can't help him", she has translated this to mean "most of my students". Her email rambled on about how can I expect them to finish a project in five days, without any instruction, how it wasn't fair, how her child would fail, blah, blah, blah.

The real crux of the matter is that she can't do his project for him. And this is sending her into orbit.

I respond to her email and stated:

1. I teach the kids how to do a PowerPoint during the course of the week.
2. The science department has done projects like this in the past VERY SUCCESSFULLY and this includes special education students as well.
3. If she looked at the rubric she would realize that the only way to fail this assignment is to not turn in anything. Honestly, a kid tries and they pass. It may not be an A but they pass.
4. This is a science department decision because we want to see what the kids can do, not their parents. (I'm sure that pissed her off.)
5. Chopper Boy is bright, hard-working, and can be successful as long as no one is out there convincing him otherwise.
6. She's welcome to come in to my room any time and observe and I would be glad to teach her PowerPoint as well.

(As an aside, when I do these technology projects, by about the second day the kids are just flying along teaching each other the tips and tricks on how to use the PowerPoint program and I'm all but bored out of my mind. I've seen a complete novice on Monday turn in a 25-slide project by Friday. It isn't hard at all.)

Helicopter Mom send me a somewhat apologetic email stating that she felt somewhat reassured that I was going to help her son learn PowerPoint but it still wasn't "fair". Whatever. And she'd try to stop by and observe. (Oh whoppee).

Her kid has almost finished his project by day three. He's doing great. He'll probably get an A. And I may be wrong, but I think he's glad that he's doing something on his own without that mother of his hovering over him.


Kristine said...

Is she a single mom by chance? I have a single dad who sounds so much like your mom, only he takes he complaints to the highest place first and they trickle down. Anyway, they sound perfect for each other.

The latest thing that our hover dad has done was jump down Ms. Geography's throat about how his son would not be able to do her powerpoint/i-movie project BEFORE she even gave out the specifics of the assignment, including the deadlines. The father indicated that his student would not be able to spend the time needed after school, so Ms. G removed him from his group because she didn't want it to affect the other students' grades. So, wasn't that nice of the parent to give her a head's up? His son now gets to complete the project alone. Poor kid. Without his dad meddling, he'd probably be better off!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if some of these kids just tune their parent out. He sounds like he can and does. Hopefully so otherwise the child runs the risks of a warped personality.

Mrs. Bluebird said...

You know, I'm not sure if she's a single mom or not. I do know that she mentioned during conferences to another teacher that both her boys have recently be diagnosed with ulcers. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Language here Bluebird, If I had Chopper boy's mom, I'd have worse than ulcers!