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Colleague Explained the Parents

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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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Colleague Explained the Parents
Old 11-30-2019, 07:48 AM
 
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Those who follow this page will know about my many vents about the parents we deal with at our prep school (high school). I'm an academic counselor who is bewildered by the number of weird calls I get from parents (mostly moms, but not always) wanting me to weigh in on stuff that has nothing to do with me or my role; or who think I'm the "appellate court" who can overrule a classroom teacher on a matter where the parent wasn't happy with the outcome; or who don't even try to reach out to a teacher about a classroom matter and come directly to me, apparently thinking I will march down on the student's behalf, hands on hips, and straighten the teacher out; or who want me run around dealing with non-academic matters on the student's behalf (library fines, computer login issues, uniform purchases, sports team tryouts, lost field trip forms, collecting homework for a kid who's home sick, etc., etc.). Or, in some cases, their son has an IEP and they don't like the Spec. Ed. co-ordinator (mainly because she's no-nonsense and holds kids accountable) and so seem to want their son's IEP managed by me instead of the actual Spec. Ed. teacher.

Anyway... a colleague explained it in an interesting way. A few of our kids get scholarships (usually to play a sport) and come from the inner city. But the vast majority of tuition-paying parents range from the highish end of upper-middle-income (stock brokers, doctors, partners in law firms, successful real estate types, entrepreneurs) to the obscenely wealthy (billionaire trust funders, NBA basketball players, software inventers, etc., etc.). Whether "new money" or "old money" (but especially the latter), many have been conditioned to expect personalized, one-stop shopping service for absolutely everything they might need. Some have never browsed and window shopped at the mall and eaten a slice of pizza at the food court for lunch; when they need a wardrobe update, new shoes, etc., they call their "shopper" and text a basic list of what they need, and their shopper sends them some ideas, arranges the sizing, and couriers everything directly to their home. When a high-level business exec needs to organize the company Christmas party, he or she handles that by telling an assistant, "I need you to arrange a party for middle management, spouses, and SOs on December 9. Your budget is X. Let me know when you have a venue. Thanks!" When they have a birthday or anniversary party to arrange, they call their usual caterer and let them know the date and how many guests.

But the big one (and this is the one that kind of made sense to me) is that, when they or a family member is sick, the big thing now is to have a physician / internists "on call" and making a house call within hours. And some of these people are so anxious, they fret and fuss about everything. Cough or sniffle? Call the doc. Could be pneumonia. Back pain? Probably a tennis strain, but call the doc just to be safe. Headache? Probably the weather, but call the doc just to check that it isn't a tumor. They think school should work the same way. Their kid got a 71 on a math test? They fret and fuss and expect the teacher and academic counselor to "leap into action" with plans for remediation, ad hoc tutoring, and a re-test next week to "correct" the poor result. They figure, "If I can text my internist and have him at my house within two hours, why shouldn't I be able to call or text my son's academic counselor and have him working on our issue immediately? If my son gets arrested for a DUI, the family lawyer can have someone there to resolve matters and/or bail him out within an hour. If my son loses his keys, our building concierge can have a locksmith let him into our apartment in half an hour."

They think it's patently absurd that they can't call someone at school and have that someone run around on their son's behalf and deal with whatever issue is going on. After all, our family doctor, lawyer, realtor, shopper, etc. are all busy, educated, and important people, but they get the job done with one call or text. So just who in the hell do these lowly school staffers think they are telling us we have to call multiple people or send multiple e-mails or - heaven forbid - wait 24 hours for a response to an e-mail? Unacceptable! Do they realize how much we are paying for this private-school education?

So, as my colleague explained, when they call me and say, "My son forgot his lab notes and he's halfway home and has a Biology test tomorrow and doesn't know what to do. Can you help?" And I say, "That's really nothing to do with me. I would have him let the teacher know via e-mail..." they think we're acting like the police department from Home Alone (because, of course, lost Bio notes are a dire emergency equivalent to a child being abandoned at home -- every setback is an emergency requiring the helicopter to swoop in for the rescue).

What they're expecting for their private-school tuition dollars is for me to say, "Wow! He forgot his lab notes? How awful. Well, you don't worry about a thing. I'll just zip down to his locker and see if I can find them. Then I'll scan them and e-mail them to you. If I can't find them, I'll locate the teacher and get some notes from him and send them along. If the teacher is gone for the day, I'll call the teacher on his cell and make it clear that your son will not be expected to write the test tomorrow and that he will have at least an extra day to review his notes. Don't worry! I'm on it!" Then I'm supposed to drop everything and ensure that Junior either has his lab notes in hand or is promised an extension on the test.

And.... nope. This is how some parents perceive our refusal to helicopter for their kids at school:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZdjWTeh9eE


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I can't imagine ...
Old 11-30-2019, 08:46 AM
 
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Whether "new money" or "old money" (but especially the latter), many have been conditioned to expect personalized, one-stop shopping service for absolutely everything they might need. Some have never browsed and window shopped at the mall and eaten a slice of pizza at the food court for lunch; when they need a wardrobe update, new shoes, etc., they call their "shopper" and text a basic list of what they need, and their shopper sends them some ideas, arranges the sizing, and couriers everything directly to their home.
I really can't imagine the lifestyle of the families at your school. It's a foreign concept. No wonder the kids are scholastically crippled. No wonder their parents know ways to purchase their child's entrance into college. No wonder. Just no wonder.
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It’s really not that much different
Old 11-30-2019, 09:00 AM
 
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At my school, a public, low-SES institution. Many of the students are from families that receive government support. Opposite end of the spectrum, similar entitlement.
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Spot on
Old 11-30-2019, 09:21 AM
 
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Your colleague nailed it. I never considered that aspect of it. I would still be annoyed by it.
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Great explanation
Old 11-30-2019, 04:54 PM
 
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Makes a lot of sense to me. It’s still crazy wrong, of course. I wonder what parents would say if during orientation this was discussed with them? If they were informed that this isn’t how any school works, or can work?

They won’t believe it, of course. Exceptions should always be made for them and theirs.

The pity of it is these students are missing so many teachable moments that would benefit them long term, would be good for their personal growth.

I had a student come up to me to discuss a recent test. She had made a few silly mistakes: silly, because her understanding of the question was completely unreasonable. Hence, her answer was incomprehensible. I explained her mistakes, then waited.

It was only a few points loss overall, but I knew she wanted me to offer to give her those points. She didn’t ask out loud, but I knew she was waiting for me to rush in to “fix” it for her. I stayed silent. We were both silent for a few minutes. Finally, she sighed and walked away.

I feel like she learned more from my inaction than she did from the test.


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Agreed
Old 11-30-2019, 05:10 PM
 
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I had a parent in extreme poverty come in and tell me she was worried about her math scores. She said that she hadn't been to school for 5k because they were homeless in NY (even though we have some records from K?). I told her she was getting small group instruction with a few other kids. The mom said "Oh, no. She'll get distracted in small group. She needs one-on-one time." When I explained that I had 21 other students and that that would not be the norm, she got upset and told me her 1st grade teacher did. I didn't relent so they called my AP the next morning. When I told her all the things I'd done for the child and the fact that they kept getting her out early during math, she took my side. Doesn't matter how much the parents make, they will be entitled if that's their personality.
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Old 12-01-2019, 08:30 AM
 
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Quote:
I knew she wanted me to offer to give her those points. She didn’t ask out loud, but I knew she was waiting for me to rush in to “fix” it for her. I stayed silent. We were both silent for a few minutes.
I do my best to not speak in these situations or when a student asks or says something out loud but doesn't specifically address me as the person to whom he/she is speaking. Asking or saying something out loud with the hopes someone will respond isn't my preferred way of communication.
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Old 12-01-2019, 03:43 PM
 
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Quote:
At my school, a public, low-SES institution. Many of the students are from families that receive government support. Opposite end of the spectrum, similar entitlement.
Same here-not low SES but middle income and they all seem to think I am their personal assistant/nanny/tutor/everything. I actually had a child tell me that her mom says I take too long to respond to messages and I am practically useless. I calculated the average time between moms message and my response...2 hours... In that moment I was DONE. I now take the the full 24 hours for all responses, which is generous since we are allowed 48 hours. If she wants to push it I can go to 48. If they really want to life lesson I can and will give it to them.
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Old 12-01-2019, 05:54 PM
 
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Yes, this. The most annoying thing for me is kids (and parents )who just report and then wait for THE TEACHER to figure out the solution. (And then more often than not, shoot it down.) I have stopped volunteering solutions.

Student: Miss, I don't have a pencil. '
Me: Hmmmm...
Student: Miss, somebody stole my pencil.
Me: Silently nodding
Student: I guess you don't care.
Me: Hmmmm...
Student: I can't do my work.
Me: That could be a problem.

And so on.... until they finally ask another student to borrow a pencil. Or look on the floor and find their lost pencil. Or even look in their pencil box or desk and find their "stolen" pencil.

Don't even get me started on missing homework.
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