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luvtoread25 luvtoread25 is offline
 
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Parent upset about a comment I don't remember writing
Old 05-31-2014, 08:07 AM
 
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First, let me say I have had a great year with a great group of kids and this is my first post on the vent board. However, the last few days of the year were upsetting. Awards day was Wednesday. I had two parents upset because their child did not receive an end of the year award for making all 3's and 4's (standards based)on their grade card all year. The students got a few 2's the first nine weeks. One parent came in then to express upset, the other did not, but went to principal at the end of the year and said I had not provided requested material so they could help at home and I had not pushed their child hard enough. I have had almost weekly contact with these parents. Students are also picked up everyday so parents were always there. They requested books be sent home for him to read which he had been doing. He went from a level D/E to a level J.
On the last day, I get an email from another parent who is upset about a comment I wrote in her child's journal. The comment said that "the work was definitely not a 3 or a 4 and was more like a 1". I do not grade journals. Students write in them frequently throughout the day as writing practice. I do not assign topics. Students turn them in when they are finished. I check them, make a few comments at times, correct some things, etc. I write comments at the end pointing out strengths and giving suggestions for improvement. Students then take them home and are given a new journal. This child's journal was taken out of the desk and taken home the next to last day of school. The student did not come back the last day.
I do not remember writing the comment and it is very uncharacteristic of me. I agonize over comments, emails, information sent to parents because I do not want things to be taken the wrong way. I want to get my point across without offending anyone. I do not even put the numbers on any graded work. We do spend a lot of time discussing expectations for each of these 4 levels.
The parent felt the comment was a bit much and the situation could have been handled better. She also stated that she felt we sometimes forget they are just first graders.
I sent an email back explaining all of this and apologized for the comment, but I do not remember ever writing something like this on a child's paper. I asked her to write down the exact comment and email me back. She replied that what she originally had written was the exact comment. The way this was worded does not even sound like me. I rarely use the word "definitely" because I am afraid I will misspell it. I have trouble with that word for some reason so I usually avoid it. She spelled it "defiantly" in her email and she used it twice. I check, recheck, and check again before sending out any correspondence and I still see mistakes later which horrifies me! Lol! I try hard to think about how I come across in written communication and I try to find and correct any mistakes before sending something. I choose my words very carefully.
I am completely sick over this situation and my great year has ended on a very sour note. Three parent complaints in three days and in the 17 years I have been teaching, to my knowledge I have rarely received any.
I am waiting on this parent to email me again. I do not know how to remedy this situation. I am completely confused about all of this!
Sorry this is so long! Thanks for reading and responding.


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Old 05-31-2014, 08:35 AM
 
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I can understanding being upset and wanting to make things right, but try to avoid apologizing for something you are pretty sure you didn't write. Parent is complaining, year is over. I would have just said that you don't grade journals and write comments, and you would not have spelled definitely as "defiantly," is it possible the comment was written by someone else (another kid with decent handwriting perhaps? Or maybe they were "grading" each others' work on their own? I've had kids do that before, playing teacher and making comments)?

I'm wondering if that's something you might have said (worded differently perhaps) and some friend wrote it down on the paper? If she wanted to pursue this, I'd want to see the comment physically. You'd know if it was your handwriting. But really, the year is over, the parent just said it was "a bit much," I don't think it requires follow-through, although it doesn't feel good. I don't think there is anything to remedy.

The other two comments are parents upset their child didn't get rewarded, but they didn't earn the reward. I think at first grade, it's hard because kids are still so new to school, and it's hard for parents and kids to accept there may be learning differences and motivation differences already coming out. In the case of your two students, it's especially difficult because they did do a great job- it sounds like they just didn't do as well the first 9 week marking period, which was a long time ago. If you're only giving awards for those who got 3s and 4s the entire year, you're missing out on kids who worked to make improvements. I would be frustrated with that as a parent, especially the ones who worked so hard with their kid to advance reading levels. I personally think for many kids, it's harder to go from 2s to 3s and 4s than it is for those who start out at 3s and 4s (not all, some work really hard to get those scores all year). I hope you went to your P to show that child's progress and what you provided the student all year.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:40 AM
 
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I'd ask her to email you a photo of the comments.
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Old 05-31-2014, 08:55 AM
 
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GraceKrispy,
Thanks for your reply. The end of the year awards are school wide. They receive an award at the end of every 9 weeks for making all 3's and 4's and another award at the end if they got all 3's and 4's all year. These two students got an award every nine weeks except for the first one.
I did talk to the principal but she did not seem too concerned. She knew the progress that had been made. She had already pulled grade cards and looked at them. We also talked about doing awards differently next year. I agree that students should be recognized for their achievement that is why I gave my own awards in my classroom and every student received more than one for their accomplishments throughout the year. Very few students get recognized at the awards assembly because there are only a few top awards given out. I have gotten over my upset there. It is the email about the comment that concerns me now. These are first graders and I cannot see anything like what you described happening! I am baffled! I am not saying that I didn't write the comment, but I do not remember doing it and it is not typically something that I would write on a child's paper. I may feel that way in an honest evaluation of a child's work, but I would typically think hard about how to write that comment in a more appropriate way! I always fear repercussions from unhappy parents. While I know you cannot make all parents happy no matter how hard you try, I always try to think about what I say and do from a parent's perspective!
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Parent is dysfunctional
Old 05-31-2014, 10:48 AM
 
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Parents are basing their self-esteem on the achievement of their child. This is a recipe for lots of problems for this child. The parents need to quit hovering and let the child handle his own emotions.

I think your school should do away with achievement awards for k-2 students. They are really too young. The awards should be character awards.

I'm sorry the parent took their dysfunctional parenting & emotions out on you.


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Old 05-31-2014, 11:06 AM
 
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These parents need to get a life and worry less!

I wouldn't think about this for another second!

Parents are often the issue more than the child! Let it go and enjoy your summer!!!
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trust yourself
Old 05-31-2014, 11:38 AM
 
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The fact that you are beating yourself up trying to right these perceived wrongs goes to show how wonderful a teacher you are. For the parents upset that their child did not receive the award I would bluntly state, "The requirements were for 3s and 4s all year." If there were not hard guidelines for the award than it wouldn't be an award, it would be another piece of paper. Parents need to learn that not every child receives every award. For the parents who went to the principal, how telling is it that they waited until the very, very end of the school year to complain. That in it of itself suggests how much they really cared about that extra work they wanted for their child. That sounds more like a parent wheeling and dealing for some sort of in to get a certificate for an award their child did not earn. Finally, the parent upset about the comment; nothing in that comment is inappropriate. It may be harsh but then again brutal truth is often what it takes to instigate change. I wouldn't take it hard. Remember, these kids are gone now and so are those parents. You seem dedicated and it sounds like your principal knows that. I wouldn't stress too much.
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Old 05-31-2014, 01:03 PM
 
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I want to thank everyone for the replies and encouragement. I do feel a little better, but the situation still bothers me!
Snicklesnack, I am considering asking her to email me a picture of the comments. A colleague of mine suggested the same thing.
I do agree with TheTrunch that some parents do base their self-esteem on their kids' achievements. I also wish we would completely do away with the end of year awards, but many parents would get upset about this as well.
Teachnkids, your comment made me smile! I will try to get past this so I can enjoy my summer!
MsFrizzle5, thank you for addressing each issue and helping to put it all in perspective. This brought some much needed relief.
Thank you all for understanding!
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Honestly...
Old 05-31-2014, 05:21 PM
 
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I'd be quite blunt with this parent and state you must see this comment. They need to SHOW it to you.
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Just wanted to respond...
Old 05-31-2014, 09:57 PM
 
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With something like this I would ask the parent to bring ME the journal immediately and we would look at it together. Facing each other and listening is the best way to handle something like this...plus it nips all of the going back and forth in the bud.
Please let us know what you did in the end. Remember thus: no one can please every one!


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Old 05-31-2014, 10:08 PM
 
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I agree with those that said the parent must bring the journal to you so you can see exactly how you wrote it since it is not something you regularly do.
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Old 05-31-2014, 10:17 PM
 
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Here's my two cents...

Awards: They didn't earn the 3's/4's all year which is a requirement. They received an award in your class recognizing their growth.

Journal: On one hand I'd want to see the journal. On the other hand, I'd say move on and enjoy your summer.

Let us know what you did.

PS...I also have a hard time spelling definitely!
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Old 06-01-2014, 03:47 AM
 
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Thank you so much for all the comments and suggestions! Our last day of school was Friday, but I am returning to school tomorrow to finish cleaning my room for the summer. I also know this parent works so when I come home from church I am going to contact her again and see if she will email me a picture of the comment. She did not respond to my last email. I will address the issue one more time and then try my best to let it all go. I will update later with results!
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Old 06-01-2014, 04:15 AM
 
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She probably hasn't responded to your email because she knows you didn't write it! She's probably making it up for some strange reason. I'd ask her to bring the journal in. If she can't or won't then I'd let it go.

Can kids receive awards for improvement or good behavior/citizenship? We have monthly awards and kids can earn an award for any reason we see fit: good grades, effort, improvement, citizenship.
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Old 06-01-2014, 04:42 AM
 
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AD
A citizenship award is given to 1 boy and 1 girl out of each class. The teacher chooses. They also do perfect attendance each 9 weeks and for the year, and a principal's award which usually goes to the top student in each class. We also give monthly awards for good behavior, working hard, etc. Teachers choose 1girl and 1 boy each month for this. All of my students received this award this year.
I also gave several awards to my students for various things, but I did this on my own so they were given in my classroom not at the assembly. All of my students received several awards.
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