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Angelo Angelo is offline
 
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What Parents Expect 2019 Edition
Old 03-11-2019, 02:35 PM
 
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It will come as a shock to no one on this board that there is a distinct expectation vs. reality gap when it comes to parents.

I am an academic counselor in a high school. My attitude is that if my mother wouldn't have called my counselor about something because I was capable of attending to it myself (or because it's not the counselor's job), the same principle should apply today. Alas... it's the era of the snowflake who has apparently lost the ability to function and perform basic tasks.

Issue: Student has lost permission form for a class field trip.
Observation: Not the job of the academic counselor to resolve this.
My Response: *To student* Ask your teacher for another one or check on your class page to see if there's a PDF.
Parent Expectation: "You've lost your permission form? Well, you just come with me. Let's go down to the secretary and see if your teacher has left for the day. We'll get you a new form before you go home. You know what? Just go do some homework. I will track down the form for you and call you when it's printed and ready."

Issue: Parent wants student to get more involved. Would like him to try out for the tennis team.
Observation: Not the counselor's job to sign kids up for sports.
My Response: *To student* Check the announcements page to see when try outs are. If it's not there, it's probably on the athletics board downstairs. Mr. Smith is the coach. You can always ask him when try outs are.
Parent Expectation: "Well, you just come right along with me." *Knock Knock* "Hi, Mr. Smith. This is Jeffrey. He's very interested in joining the tennis team. Do you think we could get some more information on the team and when the try outs are?" And then a week later... "Hi Jeffrey. I just wanted to make sure you get to try outs on time. Do you know where to go? Do you want me to go down with you?"

Issue: Student can't find library book that's overdue.
Observation: I'm the counselor, not the librarian.
My Response: *To student* Did you retrace your steps? I guess you should ask the librarian about the replacement cost of the book.
Parent Expectation: Walk down with the student to his locker and help him look for the book. If it isn't there, walk him over to the lost-and-found. I should also reach out to the custodian if he's seen the book anywhere. If it's not there, I should walk the student to the library, put on a hangdog look (while the student stands silently and stares at his feet) and say, "Well, Mr. Bookman... it looks like we may have a lost book here. Can you double check that it hasn't been handed in? If it doesn't turn up this week, can you pass me the bill and I'll send it along to Jeffrey's mother?"

Honestly... the most frequent complaint we get in academic counseling is that we are "dismissive" and not helpful enough... we are supposed to be there to help students. Parents interpret this to mean we will swoop in and resolve any issue that may arise, regardless of whether or not it has the slightest thing to do with - you know - academic counseling.


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Old 03-11-2019, 02:49 PM
 
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I enjoy your posts. Some students are going to be in for a rude awakening after graduation. Those parents are not doing their children any favors.
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Old 03-11-2019, 05:06 PM
 
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My second graders know how to ask for a new permission slip if they lose the first one.
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Old 03-12-2019, 06:00 AM
 
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Well, if my third graders loose their slip and I dont have any more copies I also send them to the office to ask the secretary to make them another copy-no I wont do it myself. You 8 year old knows where the office AND how to say
"can I get another copy of the permission slip for the third grade field trip".

I also will not search lost and found for missing books or go through their backpack or cubby -I will direct them to do those things and give them class time to do it- but I wont do it for them.

We are supposed to be slowly removing the scaffolding around these kids so that they make it the the world on their own one day right? These parents seem to have totally forgotten this.

And yeah! Your purview is "how can I improve my academic competitiveness and college readiness", not hand holding 101.
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Old 03-12-2019, 09:07 AM
 
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"Fully prepared and life ready" is the phrase used in the school district where I work. I'm willing to accept 33% of the responsibility for helping my students grow. The student and his/her parents are responsible for the other 66%.


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Impatience
Old 03-12-2019, 10:56 AM
 
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I think a big part of it with parents (especially people with money, who make up a big part of our constituency in a prep school) is the demand for instant gratification. I attribute more than half the weird phone calls and e-mails I get (mostly about things that have nothing to do with my professional role) to the fact that parents know they can get me on the phone quickly. They seem to think that once their heart is set on getting X, Y, or Z done, they want it done NOW... not later. If my kid can't find his field trip permission form, I don't want to e-mail the Biology teacher, wait three hours for him to finish teaching his class and responding to his other messages. Heaven forbid... I might not hear back until tomorrow! Nope... call the academic counselor. I know he's in his office and will answer the phone by the second ring (or will respond to a voicemail within the hour). I SHOULD be dealing with the Biology teacher teacher, but damn it, I want it NOW. No reason the counselor can't take ten minutes away from what he's doing to go resolve our issue for us, even if it's not technically part of his job.

The other piece I deal with is the apparent assumption that I have no other work to do besides dealing with one kid's issues. Parents sometimes get snippy when I explain that I have other work to do and can't just drop what I'm doing to help Junior deal with whatever today's "crisis" is right now.

Then there's the "frustrated" parent who wishes her son could self-advocate, but damn it, it's not in his skill set, so "can you please help him out with this?" And it never will be in his skill set if you always bail him out and expect others to do likewise. "Gee... we wish he would [do X for himself], but he won't, so can you?" is a common theme.

"My mom told me to come and talk to you." Why did your mom tell you that? What steps did you take to try to resolve the situation before you came to me? None. Just "My mom told me to come and talk to you and you would help me." Sure. Don't even attempt to select your courses like the other students. Just bring the blank form to me looking clueless and expect me to fill it in for you. Why? "My mom told me to bring it to you." This happened recently, and I had an angry mother call me to demand why, after her son brought me the blank form and asked for help selecting his courses, he came home with the form still blank and instructions I had printed out and highlighted for him. "In the time it took you to print out the instructions again and highlight the key points, couldn't you just have filled in the form together?" Not the point, Mom. I want HIM to learn to do it for himself.

Or the counseling appointment arranged by the parent that the student clearly doesn't want and refuses to co-operate with. It's always a bad sign when it's the parent who requests the appointment rather than the student.

Parent: I'd like to request a counseling appointment for my son.
Me: Okay. Just tell him to drop by on lunch and I'll check my calendar and we'll set something up.
Parent: Can you just arrange the time now? We've encouraged him to come see you, but he won't do it on his own. You'll need to initiate the appointment.
Me: What is the purpose of the appointment?
Parent: He needs help getting on track.
Me: With...?
Parent: With his academics.
Me: What's the concern?
Parent: His academics. I told you.
Me: Right... but what specifically does he need help with?
Parent: Well... he's an underachiever. It's been going on for years.
Me: Okay. How can I help?
Parent: I don't know how you can help. That's what I'm calling. You're his academic counselor. I want him to get counseling.
Me: Okay... so he's on board with counseling? He wants to improve?
Parent: I couldn't care less if he's on board or not. We're tired of seeing these grades. We expect more from an expensive prep school.
Me: So you believe there's a gap between his ability and his achievement?
Parent: Yeah, exactly. He's smart but lazy.
Me: And do you think he wants to improve his performance?
Parent: No, he thinks everything is fine. He thinks getting a B-average GPA is fine.
Me: Okay... so do you have any suggestions as to how to break this pattern?
Parent: That's why I'm calling. The suggestions are your job.
Me: Well, I can tell you it's difficult to counsel a student unless he's willing to put in the work to improve.
Parent: I couldn't care less what he wants. He's a kid. I'm tired of seeing these grades. He's not getting into a decent college with this GPA. Surely you guys don't want kids getting crap grades either!

*"You guys?"*

Me: Okay, so does he know you are calling to request an appointment for him?
Parent: No. He'd be pissed if he knew I was calling.
Me: Well, he's presumably going to find you you called when I call him in for an appointment.
Parent: Why does he have to find out?
Me: When he comes in...
Parent: When he comes in, you tell him you're concerned about his grades and say you're going to be counseling him once a week until his grades improve.
Me: And what would you like me to talk to him about? Is he aware of these concerns?
Parent: I don't know. Just do what you do Counsel him. That's your job. He probably won't say much. Like I say, he thinks everything's just fine.
Me: I have to tell you that counseling is really only effective when the student is prepared to do the work.
Parent: Whatever. I'm sick and tired of these grades. If this situation doesn't improve, I'll pull him and put him in another school.

*Later that day*

Me: So what can I help you with today?
Student: I don't know. You called me in.
Me: Are you happy with your grades this year?
Student: Oh my G--! My mom called you, didn't she?
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Old 03-12-2019, 11:31 AM
 
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My response lately, to my high school seniors when asked "But how am I supposed to know how to [insert basic life skill here]?" has been "I'm sure you'll figure it out, as generations of humans before you have."

And then I explain that no one really knows what they're doing 100% of the time and that's okay! It's not like you reach some magical age where you suddenly know how to approach every situation and accomplish every task. We're all just doing the trial-and-error thing, but some of us hide it better than others.
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Old 03-12-2019, 12:06 PM
 
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Angelo I want give a big thanks to you as a high school counselor.
I enjoy your stories. It was his HS counselor that was part of the group including his teachers, the school nurse, athletic medical trainer, and my grandson that helped co-ordinate keeping him connected to school after a concussion. My grandson was so excited about starting HS and playing football. Unfortunately a weird move unnoticed by the coach left grandson will a horrible headache. He took himself out of the game-not an easy thing to do. The concussion diagnosis took him out of school for a week and he stressed. His goal was to make high honors. The counselor sent reminder e-mails to all involved about his work load, need to rest, and what was really necessary to catch up his work. A very special thanks to that counselor. He helped encourage a freshman that felt very down on himself last September. His mom and dad were in the e-mail loop and provided the medical reports but otherwise let him work it out.
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Angelo, check out
Old 03-12-2019, 04:01 PM
 
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The two posts in the Lounge about students and their wealthy parents cheating and using bribery to get into so called elite colleges. Some of the parents you deal with and so aptly describe may be future felons!
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According to the news...
Old 03-12-2019, 04:08 PM
 
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Many uber wealthy parents have made the “I pay so minions do the work/make things happen for my student” model actually work!! Until now, that is...


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Old 03-12-2019, 06:26 PM
 
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When my kids (second graders) try to make their problem MY problem, I almost always respond with, "Uh-oh. Now what are you going to do?" And then just wait for the deer in headlights look to pass. Sometimes it takes quite awhile. But here's what often happens...

Kid: I lost my field trip note.
Me: Uh-oh. Now what are you going to do?
Followed by long silence... and then...

Kid: Maybe I can borrow one from Tommy and my mom can make a copy at her work.
Or... My mom could write you a note on a piece of paper to give permission.
Or... I'll get one of the extra ones thumbtacked to your bulletin board.
Or... I'll clean out my folder and find it.
Or... or ... or ... the possibilities are endless!

Most of the time they will eventually come up with reasonable solution - IF I wait silently.

I doubt if the parents would do the same, though.

It's funny how the academic curriculum seems to get more and more challenging at a younger and younger age, and yet the maturity level of so many kids has fallen so far behind! We (as a society in general) expect them to read Harry Potter and build robots in second grade, but we don't think a high school kid can pay for his own lost library book or wake himself up in time for school.
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Yes!
Old 03-12-2019, 07:18 PM
 
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This: It's funny how the academic curriculum seems to get more and more challenging at a younger and younger age, and yet the maturity level of so many kids has fallen so far behind...

Exactly! Our curriculum expects a high level of academic ability from students, but our parent community doesn’t expect any personal responsibility or maturity from students. They won’t tolerate anything less than perfects A’s, but if the child doesn’t earn that, the teacher is responsible.

I enjoy Angelo’s stories!
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Old 03-13-2019, 02:19 AM
 
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Quote:
It's funny how the academic curriculum seems to get more and more challenging at a younger and younger age, and yet the maturity level of so many kids has fallen so far behind! We (as a society in general) expect them to read Harry Potter and build robots in second grade, but we don't think a high school kid can pay for his own lost library book or wake himself up in time for school.
Yes, this!! I really think we're teaching so much in the wrong order! We're jumping up academics to the point that it takes three times as long to teach a concept because the kids aren't ready, and while they're wasting all that time, we're "missing the window" when they're really receptive to developing certain life skills.
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Old 03-13-2019, 06:06 AM
 
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That's essentially the same strategy I use, except my students are a full decade older than yours!
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Man...
Old 03-14-2019, 01:13 PM
 
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All I could think when that story broke was, "I hope it's none of our parents." So far, none of our parents have been arrested or charged, or if they have, it's been kept very quiet.

I did have a parent try to trick me today into saying something they could use against a colleague. Good thing this isn't my first rodeo. Any time a parent starts by asking me, "Would you agree that..." warning bells go off in my head. The parent wants me to agree to something on a teacher's behalf or say something they can weaponize in a disagreement with a teacher. Not much gets my blood boiling faster than people who try to sow dissent between colleagues or who try to play one teacher off another.

Parent: Would you agree, Mr. Angelo, that the purpose of a test or other assessment is to help students to show what they know and give them the opportunity to do their best work?
Me: We generally want our students to do their best work.
Parent: That's not what I asked.
Me: Perhaps if you just told me what's going on --
Parent: Would you agree that if a student knows they will not be able to do their best work on a test and communicates this in advance, that there should be a reasonable expectation for accommodation.
Me: I'm not sure.
Parent: What do you mean you're not sure?
Me: I don't think I was ever allowed to move my tests around in high school whether I was prepared or not.
Parent: I'm not talking about you. And that was then. This is now.
Me: Well, you're asking me a theoretical question. I guess the answer is I don't know without having more details.
Parent: You're being evasive.
Me: No, I'm not clear on what you're asking me. I feel like you want me to agree to something, but I'm not sure what.
Parent: You're not clear what I'm asking? It's pretty simple, really. If a good student knows they can't do their best work on a test, should accommodation be made?
Me: Are you asking theoretically or specifically?
Parent: *SIGH* You KNOW what I'm asking.
Me: I don't have a one-size-fits-all response to that. A lot depends on context.
Parent: I don't see why. You don't agree that the purpose of an assessment is to give students the best shot to show what they know? Why would you get into teaching if you don't agree with that?
Me: I'm happy to discuss my philosophy of teaching with you. I just have to be careful about how I respond to this sort of thing, because in the past, some students and parents have tried to use my responses against a colleague or to try to reverse a colleague's decision about something. That's why I have to be careful about what I say. It's not that I think that's what you're doing (yeah, right).
Parent: You're talking in circles.
Me: Okay, sorry. Let's start again. If you can assure me we are speaking abstractly and that you're not trying to make me agree that your son's math test should be moved...
Parent: Stop playing games. That's exactly what I'm asking. My son asked his math teacher to move his test, and the teacher is being difficult. What's the point of making him write the test if he already knows he's not prepared?
Me: I'm not trying to play games. I just want to make sure I'm not undermining a colleague.
Parent: It's interesting that you care more about the teachers than you do about the students.
Me: I don't believe that's what I said.
Parent: That's what it sounded like.
Me: Teachers aren't the enemies of students. It's not either/or.
Parent: Sorry, but when a teacher is insisting my son write a test he knows he can't pass, that teacher IS the enemy. People shouldn't get into teaching if all they want to do is hurt kids.
Me: I don't think that's a fair characterization of the situation. My understanding is that your son had his test moved once already because of a medical appointment and the teacher agreed on the condition that the modified date would be the final date. I believe your son agreed to the terms.
Parent: Why should it matter how many times a test is moved if the purpose is to help the student and not to hurt him?
Me: Again, I don't think that's a fair -
Parent: You're his counselor. It's your job to advocate for him. I WANT THAT TEST MOVED TO NEXT WEEK! I don't care if it means conflict with your colleague.


Yeah, I'll get right on that. Not.
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Old 03-14-2019, 03:49 PM
 
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Angelo, I would go NUTS working where you do. I can't believe how entitled people can be!
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Wow!
Old 03-15-2019, 07:44 AM
 
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I can't even imagine dealing with that off the chart level of entitlement. You must have the self control of a Zen master. Or a very bloody tongue!

There needs to be a day of reckoning for these ruthless bullies. Sure hope it comes around someday!
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This is
Old 03-18-2019, 07:48 AM
 
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spot on! I could write a few scenarios that apply to teachers as well!
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