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wakeywakey wakeywakey is offline
 
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Parent Observer Pt. 2
Old 05-05-2019, 10:04 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 05-05-2019, 11:06 AM
 
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This is the excellent example that even as teachers we cover for our own kids too much! Many on this board complain when a parent does it, but some are quick to do the same. I am so sorry and would explain that you will not change for the few stinkers that are not pulling their weight, this parent/teacher needs to keep their nose out of your class and let her own child either buck up and do the work or get a bad grade. I learned the hard way with my own, when I got out of his education
, so to speak, he excelled on his own. I knew he could but he relied on me way to much to fix it for him. When I stopped fixing it he excelled.
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Old 05-05-2019, 11:23 AM
 
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If the other students in son's class are completing the work on schedule then it is obviously not the assignment. If this is the case I would not change my plans for grading this project or the final. I'm not even sure I would have given the extension. It sounds like you have had multiple progress checkpoints and been available to the students to assist when necessary. Her kid did not make good use of his time. That's on him. Mom/teacher should not be dictating how you grade your assignments.
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Stand your ground
Old 05-05-2019, 11:39 AM
 
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You have excellent documentation that this project has been handled properly by an overwhelming majority of your students. You have built in proper supports and check ins. If this boy and his group- which they picked themselves- cannot get their act together, that is on them. They are in an honors class for a reason. It sounds like your non- honors students are doing well. Maybe this boy should not be in honors.

Be proud of the work you are doing. Show your documentation and explain that your plan will continue and you will not be making changes to your grading out of respect for the majority of your students that worked hard and are excited about their work. It would send the wrong message to cave to one parent and devalue the work of so many students.
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Tough situation
Old 05-05-2019, 11:50 AM
 
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Group projects are tough. I wish your AP had supported you.


Reach out to other teachers on your campus for ideas on how to deal with this parent, and AP. You should not have to change your assigned project or final exam plans. Did you follow up with your principal or department head.

I love the projects you are doing!



Last edited by 123rabbit; 05-05-2019 at 06:24 PM..
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The AP has shown his
Old 05-05-2019, 12:05 PM
 
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true character in allowing this to happen. It was more important for him to please this person than to support his teacher and students. I would be very disappointed with this admin and not trust him in the future and do everything within reason to have as little contact with him as possible, but be pleasant in any dealings with him.
All the students knew the guidelines, timeline, and grading. Since most of the students were almost finished, I would stay with what you set up. If you get any pushback from the admin, decrease the value of the project by something small percentage wise and increase the final exam by the same amount to appease them.
When your school year is over, take time to enjoy your summer!!!
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:25 PM
 
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You didn't mess up. The AP did. There is no way this parent should be talking to you about her professional opinion. There is no way she should be observing classes other than the one her child is in.

Your AP is an ____. ( I know I can't say on PT the words I want to use)
The project was assigned weeks ago and the students knew the percentage of the grade then. If he makes you change it, he'll have complaints from other parents that it was changed. By pleasing this parent, he risks having others complain about the change. If you end up changing anything, and there are complaints about the change from other parents, refer them to the AP to discuss the issue.

I have no idea why this parent has so much clout. My guess is that she's a lawnmower parent, and has used her lawnmower in other situations with other teachers, and the AP just wants to shut her up. I just hope that the child doesn't have to take any other class that you teach.
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Old 05-05-2019, 12:39 PM
 
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This seems like a bad idea on so many levels. I would start job hunting. I wouldn't respect your principal. He doesn't respect you.
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Old 05-05-2019, 01:51 PM
 
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Administrators should be especially protective and supportive of first year teachers! Iím so disappointed that yours was not. I despise how brand new teachers are simply thrown into the classroom, then criticized and undermined.

Iím usually a cynic, so itís only natural that I suspect mom/teacher was actually only interested in doing reconnaissance to see how other groups were doing your project so that she could make improvements to her sonís roller coaster. Anything to improve juniorís grade!
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Old 05-05-2019, 04:17 PM
 
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I’m shocked that the parent observed a class her son was not in since she’s concerned about him and this project. I’m equally shocked she felt she was entitled to tell you how to grade the project, change the due date, or scrap it. That woman is a helicopter parent. Her son is in the honors class, has had 7 weeks to do the project, and there is no reason he shouldn’t be ready to turn the project in on time except for his own lack of using his time wisely.

As for your principal... what a wuss. Changing the % is unfair to every student who worked hard on the project for a great grade. Your principal should have required the parent to observe her son’s class and that’s it. Certainly not feel free to dictate how you should weigh the project or suggest another due date to save her son’s butt. He should have told her that her son did not do HIS job!

You did nothing wrong! The parent is wrong- as a parent and as a teacher. Be firm. Stand your ground.


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Old 05-05-2019, 05:25 PM
 
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WOW!! I would be PISSED!! I remember your first post and this situation has only gotten worse. THERE is NO WAY a parent/ teacher should be in your room observing you or talking to your students. HECK NO!! Inappropriate, unprofessional on both your principal's and the teacher's part. Are you in a union state? If so, you need to make a complaint. WOW!
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Old 05-05-2019, 05:47 PM
 
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I always laugh when people ask if posters are in union states. The answer is always no. No admin in a (strong) union state would pull nonsense like this.

You have your documentation, you have proof all the other student shave used time wisely and you have proof that changing course now would unfairly affect all the students.

I guess as a first year teacher you need to decide if this is a hill
You want to die on. Iíd go in to your AP and explain if you changed the grading now it would unfairly change the weights of the final and ask how he wanted you to handle it. Put this mess back in his lap. And, when he gives you the answer, email him and cc the P following up and confirming his instructions to cover your butt.

I agree with PP, new teachers should be supported.

Youíre a high school science teacher, coveted the world over. Brush off the resume and go someplace your skills will be appreciated. You deserve better than this.

Please know none of this is you. This is your adminís fault.
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Old 05-05-2019, 06:36 PM
 
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So...wow...questioning students other than her own...seems like she riding the the on FERPA there. She has no right to know how any child other than her own is doing on a final exam or major project. Knowing how other students are doing in your class and questioning them is VERY inappropriate.

Your AP is wrong on so many levels.

to the PP who suggested asking this teacher about her project and seeing her handout as a guide-no way. She is a middle school science teacher, and this is high school AP physics so in the words of Sesame Street: one of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong. Applying middle school rigor to higher AP classes is no appropriate.

This sounds like the type of lawn mower who is going to call jobs that turn down her snowflake and tell them to reconsider. At least the year is almost over.
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Old 05-05-2019, 10:10 PM
 
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Quote:
so in the words of Sesame Street: one of these things is not like the other, one of these things does not belong.

This made me outloud!! I haven't thought about that song in years!!
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:09 AM
 
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Why did the assistant principal allow this?? You haven't done anything wrong.
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Old 05-06-2019, 07:34 AM
 
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Quote:
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.
How do you think he will do on the final exam? I'd be tempted to change the final to be worth a lot more points for this student only (per order of the AP), if I thought he would end up with the grade he deserved in the first place.
Quote:
This is my first year and I feel like I have already messed up.
No No No!!!! The parent, the kid, and the AP are the ones who have messed up. This situation would be extremely tough for all of us experienced veterans too!

Good luck! This whole thing stinks and the mother/teacher should be be ashamed of herself for butting into your classroom.
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Parent observations
Old 05-06-2019, 08:00 PM
 
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As a teacher, I'm always wiling to have parents sit in and observe their child's class. Their child. Quietly and respectfully. If they have concerns, I will meet with them later to discuss.

As a parent, I'm freaking BAFFLED that your admin allowed another parent to talk to my child and look at my child's work. I'd be at your AP's office the very next day with a copy of the FERPA laws in my hand.

I mean, it's bad enough some rando is being allowed to observe and critique your class, but what really pushes it over the edge for me is the complete and total violation of student privacy.

She's a nut, your AP is a loser, and you're doing nothing wrong. I wouldn't demote this assignment to appease this parent. The students who have worked hard, expecting this project to be worth a lot of points, deserve to be rewarded for their hard work. If her child is lazy, that's not on you at all.
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Ethics
Old 05-07-2019, 06:04 PM
 
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I also remember your original post and thought to myself how weird it was that admin was suggesting you have this middle school parent critique your class.

It seems to me that ALL teachers at some point in their career have to deal with a momentous decison.

I remember when I was in college a professor asked us this question, "will you change a grade of a student if pressured to"?

In my career I have come up against this several times. Once by a princpal who wanted me to change his daughter's grade so she could play in a volleyball game. I strongly said "NO" and the outcome was my contract was not renewed.

Another time a parent asked me about her daughters grade...she wasn't happy about my answer. So then she went to Vice Principal and he came to ask me my procedures for grading. Then the counselor came to ask me the same question. Then I was asked by parent to change daughters grade. I had to send all of this student's work to VP so he could look at it and to see if my grades reflected any discrimination against the student. The outcome...my VP totally supported me. There was nothing wrong with my grading and it was a case of a parent that was being over zealous.....her daughter by the way had a "A" in my class, but it was something like a 98.5 % and parent thought she needed a 100%. By the by this was HS ART.

Bottom line or point of all this...Are you willing to stand firm in your ethical beliefs? If so are you willing to handle any consequences that may occur? Will you be okay if you lower your ethics?

For the record I don't think YOU did anything wrong!! You sound like you have all your ducks in a row also. I also believe you were very professional in your interaction with parent while she was in your room.

However, your AP was out of line as well as the parent. I think she left her teaching hat somewhere else and was totally wearing her "parent hat".

I say, "Stay strong, stay firm and let the chips fall where they may". Easy for me to say though since I am NOT in your shoes......SO DO WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU!!!
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