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wakeywakey wakeywakey is offline
 
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Parent Observer Pt. 2
Old 05-02-2019, 07:25 AM
 
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At the bottom of this post I have pasted my previous post for clarity.

I am a first year science teacher for physics. I recently got told by administration I was going to have a parent observe my classroom. The kicker is the parent was a middle school science teacher in another district. The visit was to give me advice on how to teach the course as the material was too difficult despite being in line with the standards and the high school level textbook. This issue came to the parent's and administrator's attention because the student was getting an A- in the class.

Well, the visit occurred and it went poorly.

The parent observed on a work day for our paper roller coaster lab, she did not observe the hour her son is in. This assignment has been a favorite amongst students. There has been many drafts and revisions made and the due date is coming up soon. This project will count as part of the final exam for the coarse. The final is part written exam and part practical. A good grade on this assignment can help boast the students final grade. I am grading this assignment on mostly on the use of good engineering practices with a few points available for success. This project also has extra credit built in if they win one of three categories (theme, rigor, and wow).

During this work day the parent walked throughout the room asking the students questions and looking at their assignment packet (which is admittedly very thick, about 15 pages, but is mostly resources to help them build great roller coasters). I was fine with her observing and resigned myself that she was going to ask questions.

At the end of the period, she finally gave me some hint to why she wanted to observe the class so badly. She said the deadline was fast approaching and she was concerned with how much I was putting on the students, citing the 15 page packet and the multiple write ups and revisions that have been due so far. She then brought up that most of the students in the class she observed were almost done but her son had barely started their final rendition (which was something I had noticed on other workdays). She said it was clear that I had not given her sons class the same opportunities to work on the assignment (which is false). She said in her professional opinion I need to either scrap this assignment or postpone the due date till finals week to make it fair for her sons class. This project is due next week, Monday, and I don't think it is fair to postpone it for the students who are almost done. I thanked her for her input but because of the incredible amount of time it would take to grade this assignment, I could not postpone it that far. I said I could give an extension till Friday but no later and their would be no more work days after tomorrow.

Then she brought up her sons group, each group is made of 3 students. She brought up that her sons group was unfair. I always assign groups but for this assignment, in her son's particular hour I let the students pick their own partners. I encouraged them to pick their group mates wisely. Her son paired with friends all of them are good students (As and Bs). But they never get any work done in class, they spend the entire time joking around and no amount of encouragement will get them on task. She said her son was grouped with 2 poor students (not true) and that was another reason he was not getting the assignment done as he was carrying the burden for the group (also, not true). I informed her of how groups were formed, I only let my honors class pick their own groups, which happened to be the class her son is in. And that I assumed a group of honors, upperclassmen could be trusted to form their own groups. She did not seem please with my answer and after bringing up a few more issues left.

I was later called to the assistant principal's office and he said that I was correct in not pushing back the due date, but... He told me he did not feel comfortable with it being a major grade like a final. He recommended just making it a small project and be done with it. The students have been working on this project for almost 7 weeks and most of my students are incredibly pround of their work. My main issue is I already finished writing the final and handed out the test review. Without this part of the final the exam will be very short so each question will be worth a lot of points and I think that is an awful idea. The final is weighted at 10% of the semester grade.

This is my first year and I feel like I have already messed up.

_______________________________ _____________
My Original Post

The parent of one of my high school physics students contacted my AP and told them they were concerned at the level I was teaching at. The parent happens to be a middle school science teacher in another district. My AP decided it was acceptable for that parent to observe me throughout an entire class period. When I told my AP I did not feel comfortable with this situation he would not relent saying it was fine because she has been teaching for 20+ years and I have been teaching full-time less than 1. Maybe she could give me some advice. Apparently, I am teaching very advanced material. All lessons are designed using the textbook provided to me by the school and aligned with the state standards. This parent has never once emailed me with a concern instead went straight to the AP who she knew personally.

This student is a 17 year old, junior. This whole mess started because his grades are "ridiculously" low... he has an A-


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Old 05-03-2019, 02:33 PM
 
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Helicopter parents come in lots of flavors. Teachers are not immune to the airspace. It looks like she is trying to give unsolicited advice as a self-appointed mentor. A problem with these parents is their child will pick up on the fact the parent is not supporting the teacher. Few students will put forth maximum effort knowing no matter what happens the parent will step in and blame the teacher. Listen to her respectfully - nod and look like her words are like gold nuggets - shake hands and thank her for coming in. Then go back and do what you were doing all along. She has no right or authority to tell you how or what to teach.
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Old 05-04-2019, 08:03 PM
 
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I agree with Fenwick. I think this IS actually a "hill worth dying on". Not only should you stand your ground with this parent, but with admin, too. you end worked hard to create a rigorous, hands on, authentic, collaborative, multi- sensory learning experience for your students. Your lesson is hitting all the buzzwords. You don't deserve to be undermined.
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Old 05-31-2019, 08:04 AM
 
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How did all this work out?
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Old 07-13-2019, 04:59 AM
 
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None of this would have happened if:

* the student didn't have that "-" (minus) after the "A"
* you weren't a 1st year teacher-the parent knew this
* parent wasn't a personal friend with admin

The parent obviously feels that since she is a science teacher, her own son is entitled to high grades in all science classes. She's probably interfered with her son's previous science grades/classes/teachers, if they weren't perfect. She pounced on you being a 1st year teacher.

The observation with the intent to give you advice should have never happened. She is not qualified to do that and your admin. should have been a professional and stopped that from happening. That should have been something that should have been addressed with everyone present in the conference. Your admin did not do his/her job.

This parent will continue to interfere when her child goes to college. Bad for her child and bad for her when she realizes that she will have absolutely no control over matters there. Keep this in mind and smile!

Seems your admin. doesn't support teachers, even if they are in the right. Pleasing the parents so parents don't take it to the superintendent is common now.


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Old 07-13-2019, 06:19 AM
 
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Agree that this shouldn't have happened period. I wonder how it ended up. Can you update again?

Kind of reminds me of my grade level partner several years ago. A mom of a student who was having great difficulty with behaviors sent my partner a list of like 300 ways to work with active boys. Ummmmm, she did many of the items on the list, and that was documented in the previous discussions. It still does not justify your son's bad behaviors. Where is his list of responsibilities?
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Old 07-13-2019, 03:11 PM
 
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Reading your update about the observation....

My question is, how is a parent allowed to observe a class that doesn't include her own child?? That is a huge FERPA issue and your admin should not have allowed that happen. Is there a higher up you can go to? I feel like your principal is not going to be helpful and is obviously siding with the parent on this issue. If (say) 85% of your students are doing well on this project knowing the timelines, then I would have kept it as part of the final and sorry to that parent whose child isn't working. Keep records of what happens/doesn't happen in class, if 'Joey' is refusing to work and joking with his friends then write it down. I know it's July and probably not helpful now, I hope nothing negative came your way for this situation.
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Old 07-13-2019, 07:58 PM
 
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I've had parents observe but never in the manner that you have described.

The mom should have NEVER been allowed to ask the other kids questions, talk to the kids and look at their work. That's like 3 ferpa violations!

You should never discuss the other two members of his group at all. Next time, say "I'm not allowed to discuss the other members of his group."

Watch out because sometimes parents try to take pictures or record their observation. Did she have a phone? Protect yourself and type out exactly what happen. What if a student goes home and says that a parent was looking at their work and asking questions? What if that same student had an IEP?

Next time, suggest a parent conference before the "observation" and a debriefing during your next conference (never with kids present).

Do not cave with her demands, you can do this!!!!
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