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New principal is throwing me under the bus
Old 08-19-2017, 02:24 PM
 
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Hello, everyone! I am a newly registered member, but have read through other posts here from time to time over the years. Yesterday, I had a rough experience and I'm asking for help and advice. I don't think that many others can understand my position, but other teachers can. I'll apologize in advance for what will end up being a long post, but please read on and let me know your thoughts. I'll provide some back story...

THEN:
After college, my first teaching job was as a full time sub teaching English Lit to grades 6-8. I couldn't count it as professional experience on my teaching licensure since it was a sub position, but it gave me something useful to put on my resume.

After that, I spent three years teaching at a private, faith-based school; I taught kindergarten for two years and first grade for one year. The pay wasn't great (under $18,00 per year with no raises), the benefits weren't much, the contract was odd, and it involved working with people who made James Bond villains seem like Sesame Street residents...but it was a job doing what I love at an accredited school in a bad economy and it meant experience.

Last year, I applied to an out of state district that was around an area that I loved to spend vacation time in. I did it as a pipe dream, so I was surprised when I was called to interview and even more stunned when I got the job offer a few weeks later.

The school is a public school in a large district, considered to be inner-city, but in a very poor community. The other teachers were great, the staff was very helpful, and the administration was amazing. I was thrilled to be working in a school where my principals supported, respected, and appreciated me. I knew that they had my back and thoroughly enjoyed each day. I was teaching fourth grade, which was a bit of a jump for me, but I never felt alone. A first grade teacher moved at the end of the year, and I was asked if I'd be interested in moving to that position, so I gladly accepted.

About a month before the new school year began, I received a mass email from the principal informing us that she was being transferred to another school by the superintendent and would no longer be leading our admin. I was sad, but hopeful for another happy year.

NOW:
A new principal was hired, definitely not as open or approachable as the last. She's big on lots and lots of meetings and seems to be a bit micromanagey. I've been friendly and respectful toward her, but no butt-kissing or catty attitudes.

Yesterday after dismissal, she called my classroom to tell me to come to her office before I left. I had no idea what it could be about. On my way there, I ran into her and our assistant principal (same one as last year) walking toward me. I told P that I was on my way to see her. She didn't say anything about it, but looked around and said we'd need to go somewhere to talk privately. We headed back to my classroom. AP closed the door behind her and we sat down at a table. P started the conversation with no small talk or smiles, "There's an issue with a parent that we want to nip in the bud right away. She called. She's upset and wants her child taken out of your room. She says that he comes home crying every day and hates coming to school. He cries every morning and doesn't want to go. She also said that she's been talking to three other mothers and they all say that their children say the same thing: you're always mean to them and they hate school. Now they all want their children removed from your room. This really comes down to you needing to take it down several notches and watch your language." Um...

At this point, not only do I have NO IDEA what she's talking about, but I also have NO IDEA who she's talking about.

She goes on, "I guess I should start by just saying that there is never a time or place in the classroom for sarcasm. The young ones don't get it and will take everything literal. Even with older students, it's uncalled for and highly unprofessional. Any behavior specialist will tell you that." (Again, I am still in the dark.) "You know what happens when mothers get together and start talking, and we don't want that. Now, I've already talked to her. She's willing to schedule a time to meet with you, so that's a good sign. I know that it's Friday, but this needs to be addressed now."

It's at this point that I interject to ask who the student is that she is referring to and what actions or statements are being alleged. She doesn't know and has to pull a folded up "A Message for You" from her pocket to tell me. When she tells me the name of the student (let's call him "Eric"), some lights go off for me. Before the year began, Eric's kindergarten teacher came to me with a few warnings: he doesn't participate in class activities, will rarely complete or attempt assignments, and that his mother is aggressive. She said that his mother tries to say that he has a learning disability, but he has been tested and nothing of the like has ever been determined. She said that he's pretty lazy and doesn't want to do anything at school because that's what he does at home. She also said that his mother was constantly calling the school or coming to the school to talk about how mean she was to him and demand that he be removed from her classroom. She said that if you try to force him to do an assignment, you're mean; if he gets a bad grade or progress report, it's because you're not doing your job or you're singling him out. Another teacher told me that she worried about Eric's home life because there's no dad in the picture and his mom is in and out of jail and routinely attends a court ordered substance abuse program that her church sponsors.

Since the advice I'd been given from Eric's kindergarten teacher sounded so familiar to what I was now hearing, I began to relay all of this to P. I described his behavior in class as well as during recess (wandering around for a minute or so before coming to complain that he doesn't want to play and wants to go in and sit down). P turned to AP and asked "Do you know anything about any of this?" AP shook her head and said that she wasn't familiar with Eric or his family. I felt like P was basically calling me a liar. Then, AP begins asking questions more specifically about this behavior: "Is he sleeping in class or trying to sleep in class?" No. "What happens when you play a game with the class or sing a song that everyone likes?" He doesn't join in and wants to sit in his chair. "Does he seem socially withdrawn?" No. "Does he seem to be able to make friends easily?" Yep, has several. "Does he show any emotions?" He smiles a lot and hugs me several times every day.

It was a bit clear that P didn't like AP asking all the questions. AP quickly apologized for all the questions and remained quiet. P continues: "You might just be used to older kids and not realize that what you're saying is hurtful and inappropriate. It's like the other day, I heard you refer to your students as 'animals.' When you were walking them back from lunch, you said 'It's time to get my animals.' Another teacher heard you, too. The other teacher was offended by what you said and brought it to me. Do you remember saying that? Because that's what you said." I said that I didn't say that, but told her I remembered the incident in question. I clarified to her that I didn't say that I was going to get my animals, but that I did recall saying that I was going to get my yahoos. To that, P says "Yahoos. Yeah. That's probably what I heard. I didn't hear it very clearly, but it sounded like animals. And it sounded like animals to the other teacher, too. Either way, that's highly inappropriate language and you shouldn't be using it at school, especially in front of children. You need to realize that these children are six. Anyway, I've already talked to his mother. I told her that I understood because I'm a mother and my kids didn't always like their teachers. I also told her that you were moving from fourth grade to first and that it's a big adjustment for you, so I asked her to be patient with you while you make that transition. I know that these young ones are new for you--well, not really but they are--and you need to watch yourself. I told her that I didn't know if you would be able to call her back today or if it would be Monday. I know it's late and it's Friday, but you need to call her and schedule this meeting. It's not good to let this situation fester over a weekend, especially since other parents are now involved. Of course AP or I will sit in on your meeting, if you'd like, but I want you to know how this meeting should go. You don't need to go into it saying anything about his actions. Instead, go into it with an apologetic attitude. Tell her that you're new to first grade, even though you aren't. Tell her that you don't want Eric sent to another class and ask her to be patient with you as you adjust to your new grade level assignment. Ask her for her help or any suggestions she might have as to how to gain his attention and get him to participate more frequently. We just need to keep her happy."

Other things were said, but that's the bulk of it. Of course, none of these allegations have ever happened. P never questioned it either, which is disturbing. I kind of thought we should consider the source, but I guess not. Also, no other parents have made complaints and Eric's mother didn't disclose who her supposed cohorts were.

I called Eric's mother, but got no answer. I ended up sending an email to her school listed email to request a preferred time for her meeting.

My new P never asked me for my side of the story, what happened, or any specifics. Instead, she sold me out to a parent without ever including me and threw out a slew of lies to make an excuse. I was very hurt that AP sat back without bothering to defend or support me. It also hurts to know that P was more than willing to throw me under the bus at the first opportunity that she had. Now I've been told that I need to enter a meeting on pretenses of lies and continue to tell and expand upon those lies. This goes against everything that I stand for or agree with. What am I supposed to do? If P sits in on the meeting (and I do want a third party in attendance), she's going to go on with her lie-filled plan. If I state the truth, the parent will think that either I'm lying or stating that my P did. This is a bad situation regardless of how you look at it. What am I supposed to do?

I don't want to go anywhere else, but I know that P can make my life very difficult. I can withdraw from her and do everything that my contract requires of me with no more or no less, but it's a long way between now and the last day of school. I feel like I've been thrown in a hole that I'll never be able to dig my way out of.



Last edited by MsFrost; 08-20-2017 at 10:23 AM.. Reason: Had to fix a typo.
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:19 PM
 
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Wow! That is terrible. I'm not really sure what I would do. I am guessing you are not ten-yearned yet. Is there any way you can have a union rep present or his last year's kindergarten teacher. Maybe this can mask as a "brain storming" session. It sounds like your P is Not supportive and I hope she doesn't last long at your school. She is probably treating you like this beacause you are young. Please post again and let me know how it turns out.
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:29 PM
 
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Are you looking for advice about how to handle the principal or the parent?
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:38 PM
 
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I guess both, Crux.

Eric's kindergarten teacher told me that when she would call his mother, the tone completely changed. She said that Eric's mother never mentioned saying anything about her and instead tried to say that she was calling to ask what kind of support or practice she could do with him at home to help him do better in school.

It sounds like the mother backs down when push comes to shove, but I can't know that for sure. Advice on how to handle her is appreciated, especially if she maintains her initial complaint.

Also, how can I work with my new P? She's starting out on a foundation of lies that she wants me to continue and uphold. Like I said, she can make my work life miserable. I know that. How can I move forward?

Last edited by MsFrost; 08-20-2017 at 10:24 AM.. Reason: Had to fix a typo. Again.
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Tought Situation
Old 08-19-2017, 04:15 PM
 
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Parent: I would go into the meeting in a problem-solving mode. "The principal tells me that Eric is having a problem adjusting to first grade, how can we help him? Here are my ideas..." If she backs down like the kindergarten teacher says, great. At least you can bring some constructive ideas to the table (behavior chart, reward for participating, extra quiet time, etc.) that might help him.

Principal: WATCH YOUR BACK! A principal who instantly takes a parent's side is not your (or your student's, really) friend. Do not say anything she can use against you later. Hopefully if you can handle this parent and she will back off.


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Old 08-19-2017, 05:13 PM
 
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No suggestions, but ((hugs)) to you. That situation sounds really uncomfortable and unfair.
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Old 08-19-2017, 05:32 PM
 
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That's bad, real bad. I see a real long year with this principal but hopefully, it will be her last year. Just remember that she is not your friend and nothing like your previous friend. (I say this because I am one who has trouble keeping my guard up and it ends up biting me later.)

As for the parent, I would do exactly what Taffy said. I would not lie in any way. If P asks why you didn't, say you just didn't feel comfortable lying.

And as much as a pain as this is, document all interactions with this parent, child, and principal.

Good luck to you this year.
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Take a witness
Old 08-19-2017, 05:32 PM
 
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If you can get his last teacher there, that would help. If you are in a union, be sure to let your rep know what's going on.

Look at his file. Are there comments or observations in it that from the testing or report cards that support what you see in your class? If so, work them into the discussion. "I see that so and so noted. . . I am noticing this. . ." I always do this when parents try to say that I am the only one who the student behaves this way with or whatever. Turns out, that's not true. I teach middle school, so there is usually a lot to work with in the records. You may not find much.

This kid and mom have a lot of baggage. You will not fix that, but you can set a tone for being treated professionally. Remind her that you are the first line of communication (Give her all needed contact info again. ), and she needs to communicate with you for the best outcome for her son. Have your ducks in a row and let her and your P know it.

Be very careful with the P. My experience is that administrators like this do not last, but they can make you feel like hell when they are there. Staff morale falls. The truth comes out, but it takes a while.
Is this P new to administration or just new to your school? If you haven't documented this interaction yet, do it and keep documenting. You or your union may need this information with specifics to work on a grievance, if that applies to your situation.

Educators are never going stop those parents from talking about us. Unfortunately, we are not in much of a position to defend ourselves due to privacy laws. I have grown a very thick skin, and I don't like how I feel about people a lot of the time. Especially with social media, it's very easy for parents to pile on when they really do not know the real story. It's like the saying, "I won't believe everything your child says about you if you don't believe everything your child says about me." Like kids don't lie. I once sat in a team meeting with an irate parent. The student was filling the parent with lies about all of us. After the parent told us all of the allegations about our crimes, my teaching partner turned to the mom and said, "Has he ever told you a lie?" The mom's face was priceless. That one question reframed the mom's thoughts. She left the meeting realizing that she'd been had by her son.

I have a few years left. I fear for those coming to education now.

Good luck to you.
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Old 08-19-2017, 05:41 PM
 
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Ask for the assistant principal and a union rep to be present during the meeting, but NOT the principal. She won't support you, so there's no reason for you to have her there. And above all, do not lie about anything. It always comes back to bite you.
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parent conference
Old 08-19-2017, 05:58 PM
 
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I would strongly urge you to record the conference if you can. Attached is a chart that will let you know if your state allows the use of recording devices in which type of situation. You can tell the parent that it helps to have a recorded list of suggestions that you can refer back to and then move on with the conference before she thinks too much about it. The purpose of the recording is not really about the parent and the suggestions, but about protecting yourself from this principal who you've discovered will lie to cover her butt.

I also think I would not apologize. I would go right in with the "so glad we could meet so that we can come up with some solutions to help Eric get used to the work in 1st grade." That is the truth for you and should be the goal of the meeting anyway. You do want Eric to succeed.

Have a few suggestions ready to go that aren't going to require a lot of effort from this parent. She isn't going to be able to follow through.

End the conference with a date for the next conference set for all and a positive comment about Eric. Give her your school e-mail address written on a piece of paper (even though you've prob. already done it) once again in front of the principal and state very clearly that if there are any questions about what is going on in the classroom or about any assignments. Tell her that you will check e-mail every day at such and such a time and give a time that is after Eric is home. You need to be able to address any lies that Eric comes up with before she has a chance to stew about it and yak with her fb friends.

As for the principal: Get out of sight as much as possible. Nod and smile when being addressed and don't let her know that you think she is an a$$. Don't offer any excuse, justified or reasonable. Just nod and smile. She will have more difficulty attacking someone who doesn't react.

Think carefully about transferring to another school. This lady just doesn't seem the type you'd want to work with.

https://www.mwl-law.com/wp-content/u...IONS-CHART.pdf


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Old 08-19-2017, 06:54 PM
 
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Oh my! I think we may work for the same person! I agree with going into the meeting with a problem based attitude. Your P just wants to look good. And that's it. Please don't say "I didn't want to lie," if questioned. She'll take it as an attack on her and she will then become focused on YOU and making you look bad.

We're both going to have a long year but we can do this. I've been getting the same advice about people like her not being around long. We haven't even had a full day of school yet and everyone is upset. The control freak administrators are a real drain! Good luck! Karma is on your side.
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If it comes up in your parent meeting
Old 08-19-2017, 09:06 PM
 
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you can truthfully say that you last taught fourth grade. I would try to not introduce that I've taught first before and it may well not come up.

If the focus is on problem solving so the child can have a good year, these elements may not arise. IF the principal asks you can say it didn't come up or didn't seem pertinent to the meeting.

IF last year's teacher can attend the meeting, that would be great to have her input about what worked last year and you'd have a witness (although that might put her in a awkward position in terms of ever having to speak as a witness). It's always good to have an extra person in the mix.

I am sorry that the principal immediately jumped on the parent's side. Sounds like she's gun shy of parents and their possible influence, perhaps she's had very bad experiences in the past with parent complaints going up the district ladder.

Do be sure to keep a copy of what you've written to us (perhaps re-written a bit) as the principal likely made note of what she feels she said to you.

I agree with keeping as low a profile as possible. It may be that she feels the need to display her authority to each staff member as soon as she can to establish herself in a new setting.
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Old 08-20-2017, 03:34 AM
 
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Definitely go in with the problem solving team approach. I've had a P like yours before who took the parent's side. When I met with the parent, mom was reasonable. Sometimes a parent needs to vent and complain, and gets encouragement from the P because the P doesn't know how to handle it. My P like that was gone in one year!
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Amazing.
Old 08-20-2017, 06:20 AM
 
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It's amazing that adults fail to understand that people see and report things differently. It's an innocent attribute of human nature. Children have an even more limited ability to perceive and explain events. If their feelings are hurt they feel a teacher's words were I tended to be hurtful and mean spirited.

Can you meet with mom and the P? Not to "defend" yourself but to establish communications and hear from the mom what she feels is needed. Usually when people feel they are heard it's easier to solve problems.

Approach your P as a confused teacher. "Help me understand...". Being defensive sets off these control freaks. Contrite and apologetic works at first. If it continues, you need you union rep. Document what's happened so far.

It stinks when you P fails to see that parents are not perfect.
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Wow!
Old 08-20-2017, 08:33 AM
 
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Thank you ALL so very much for all of your kind words, support, and suggestions! I've been keeping a list of things that you've mentioned and I think that they are all wonderful. I've been so stressed about this situation that I truly didn't even think of some of the most basic pieces of information that I need to bring to the table. Again, THANK YOU.

I've read through and noticed some questions, so I wanted to be able to answer them.

Quote:
Is there any way you can have a union rep present or his last year's kindergarten teacher.
I'm not a member of the district's union, so a union rep isn't feasible. As a teacher new to the district last year, I was approached to join their union. The dues were pricey and a specific amount was required upfront. Since I was in the process of moving and money was beyond tight, I couldn't enroll. I have checked on it since then and found that I can enroll during their open enrollment period, which begins next month. Money still isn't overflowing, but it may be doable. Since I now know how P is, I think I'll need the backup.
I haven't asked his kinder teacher, but she has been very helpful, so I think that she would be there with me if I asked her.

Quote:
Is this P new to administration or just new to your school?
This is her first appointment as P. She was previously the AP at another school.

Quote:
Ask for the assistant principal and a union rep to be present during the meeting, but NOT the principal. She won't support you, so there's no reason for you to have her there.
Agreed. I would prefer to have AP over P, but not sure if it would be doable. P was the one that spoke with with Eric's mom, so AP may sit there and just say that she isn't familiar with Eric from last year, not much to add, or so forth. AP may even tell me that she doesn't think she's the best person to be there and that it's really something that P needs to do. P would probably see it as me not wanting to include her (and I don't) or maybe even going over her head and make things worse for me. Do you think that could happen or am I being paranoid?

Quote:
I would strongly urge you to record the conference if you can...End the conference with a date for the next conference set for all and a positive comment about Eric.
That is a fantastic idea! I honestly wished that I had recorded the meeting with P and AP, but I had no way of knowing how that was going to go. Hindsight's 20/20. I love the idea of immediately scheduling a follow-up meeting before his mom leaves. Thank you!

Quote:
Do be sure to keep a copy of what you've written to us (perhaps re-written a bit) as the principal likely made note of what she feels she said to you.
I hadn't thought of that, but it's a great suggestion. Thank you!

Last edited by MsFrost; 08-20-2017 at 10:27 AM.. Reason: Another typo. I can't believe that I keep missing these.
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Welcome and I am so sorry
Old 08-20-2017, 09:11 AM
 
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First of all before I give you some suggestions, I am just going to put this out there: THIS is, in a very well stated nutshell, why it is important to have teacher unions!

Now, off the soapbox and onto your issue:

1) The principal (P). If this is her first time being P, she is skating on thin ice. Ps can be replaced at the blink of an eye, no questions asked. I also know that many school districts put a lot of pressure on Ps to never have any complaints. I agree with those who say she is not your friend. Steer clear of her. Put your head down, close your door, and teach your kids like you know how to do. NEVER, ever meet with her without another teacher (preferably a union rep) present. Not even for a quick chat. You will have to watch your back constantly this year, which can be very, very stressful. Make sure you take good care of yourself, too.

2) The AP. She may know you, or you think she does, but remember her job is to support the P. She will throw you under the bus, too, if she has to for self-preservation. I agree that she doesn't need to be in that meeting with the parent since she is not aware of the situation.

3) The Parent. We've all had parents like this. There is no way to please them. They will always take their child's side, whether or not it's warranted. The kid could be a kleptomaniac who stabs others with scissors and she will still deny it! NEVER have a meeting with Parent alone! The best way to handle this kind of parent is to GET HER ON YOUR SIDE! Watch your back, because she is likely unstable, but ask her to help you out. Ask her what she wants for her child and reassure her that you want the same thing--that is for him to have a successful first grade experience.

Make sure you document everything that the child does in class. Yes, it will take some time away from the others and from what you have to do, but it is critically important. If problems arise, you can show your documentation to the principal.

Finally, be careful what you say and where. Our teachers' lounge is a place where many would go to vent, until we realized that parents are in the hallway outside and can hear us! Smile a lot, and make sure you don't say anything in earshot of the P. Make sure to say "good morning" and smile every day when you see her. That will go a long way.
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Suck it Up
Old 08-20-2017, 09:23 AM
 
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Welcome to your nightmare. "Time to get my Yahoos" That is definitely a derogatory word to call them.

There's a range of parents and most of them want you to treat their child x10 better than they do.

Here's my advice (if you want to keep your job). Keep in mind that your new P is in charge of whether you will have a job next year. Also, keep in mind, that you don't want to have the parent community label you as the bad teacher. You need to turn this around by being very humble.

Apologize Profusely to the P and to the parents and to the children.
Go to your P and tell him that you are going to work on learning about the developmental stage of a 6-year-old.
Parents are really more interested in their child being happy and the teacher saying nice things about them than their achievement.
If you try and hold them accountable in a way that is best for them, it's going to backfire on you.

Not to give up. You're going to have to develop some class management strategies that appeal to that age group and learn how to hold your tongue with the kids who don't want to do things. That will be the child and the parent's problem, not yours.

Try to make your class a happy and fun place to be. See if you can observe other first grade teachers for ideas.

Good Luck ......Better to lower your expectations than be attacked.
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Old 08-20-2017, 10:03 AM
 
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I would include the P because you want her to hear everything discussed so she can't change it later. I would follow up with the parent, P, and VP by email afterwards to summarize the concerns, plan of action, and next meeting.

Good luck!
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Old 08-20-2017, 10:10 AM
 
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Do not apologize, not with this P. Apologizing is an admission of guilt. If you want to appease her, apologize for the perception not the action.

I'm so sorry Eric feels I've been mean to him, let's talk about how we can make him feel more comfortable so he can have a great year.

As opposed to, I'm so sorry for being mean to Eric.

Also document, document, document, and join that teacher's union yesterday.

Last, I personally would delete this post. It is a lot of detail in a public forum. If your P or the parent stumble upon it, they will know it's you and can use it against you.
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Old 08-20-2017, 12:30 PM
 
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I've been there, and feel bad you have to go through this.

I don't have much to add, but here's something that might help when you're meeting with his mother. It doesn't matter if the principal is there or not.

The next time you have Eric in class, start the day with a couple very easy assignments you know he will be able to finish. Stand by him if necessary, and compliment him when he finishes them. When you see his mother, you can say, "Eric did a fantastic job on our morning work today! Here are his papers-aren't they fantastic?" How can his mother or the principal argue with that?

You can then add, "Eric is a nice young man, and he showed me he can do excellent work, but I was surprised to see what happened next. He stopped doing his work, and started ____________. I care about him and want to help him. Is everything all right?"

Now you've put the ball back in his mother's court. You're letting her know that you care about her son, and the next move has to come from her.

My guess is that Eric's mother really doesn't want to meet with you or deal honestly with any of this. In my experience, many whiny parents would rather not face facts and meet the teacher. They're happiest when they can whine to the principal. I've had that happen to me, and it isn't pleasant.

I think the AP is lying. If Eric is as you describe him, I would be very surprised if she doesn't know all about him and his mother. She's probably lying to cover her you-know-what. I'm guessing that she doesn't care for the new principal,
but she knows she has to keep her mouth shut. When I was a regular teacher, it was obvious that some of my assistant principals didn't care for their
bosses, but they didn't say much.

Is there any way to contact your former principal and quietly ask about a transfer to her school? In my experience, principals are often quite eager to hire teachers who once worked for them.

Good luck!
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Dealing With Difficult Parents/Todd Whittiker
Old 08-20-2017, 05:57 PM
 
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Buy a copy of this book immediately! Saved my tush several times. One of my principals told us to imagine the child's parents standing behind them when we have to "redirect" behavior or attention. That was extremely helpful. At your meeting listen listen listen. Ask how you can help. Before the meeting interview the child using a questions like "What is your favorite thing to learn about? Who are your friends? What is your favorite book?" Use this info to show mom you know her child. Search out some of the great first grade bloggers on/and TPT for fun easy ideas. This too will pass. I would NOT tape this meeting. Read Todd's book, smile, and this too will pass. Be cautious around this principal but refrain from discussing the meeting with anyone as the teachers on your staff may be looking to keep their jobs by telling on you. Relax it will all be OK.
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Old 08-20-2017, 06:04 PM
 
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Principals have a lot of power. They can make up or exaggerate stories about you and say those stories were witnessed by others. For instance, they might tell you parent X says you did this and we have witnesses. I left teaching because of this. Principals quite often side with parents and will not support you. I had a couple of principals go to bat for me early in my career, but that was fifteen years ago and they don't do that now. At least not for me.

My union didn't help me at all.They used to be somewhat better than now. They are supposed to be separate from a school district, but they often aren't currently. If those parents are actually saying those things about you, then try to address those problems (even if they are not true) and make the changes. Communicate with them and show you're trying to work with it and sort it out. Roll with the punches.

But if it gets worse and it continues, look at your future and ask yourself if it's really worth it. It wasn't for me. This stuff can cause health problems. Teaching in some places is becoming a witch hunt, and it needs to stop. Inappropriate permissive behavior now in schools and throughout society is ignored when it used to be addressed. I am working in a new school as a substitute and I try to be as positive as possible. I will speak up and act when students are misbehaving, but I never get into it with them at all. I communicate with other teachers and principals to clarify things. My goal is to get out of there unscathed by the end of the day.
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Be careful
Old 08-21-2017, 04:20 AM
 
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I had a situation like this, too.

I took a union rep to an administrative meeting as a set of ears. That did not go over well with the prince. Ever since then it has been tense betweeen him and I.

Even though school rules are in place many teachers don't inform parents if the child does not listen. Our code of conduct states parent notification. I realize that most don't follow it. Deal with it yourself unless it is really bad.

In my viewpoint everyone is out for themselves. Watch your mouth with everyone.

Good luck.
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Welcome to PT
Old 08-21-2017, 04:46 AM
 
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So glad you've joined us!

You've gotten a lot of great advice, some of it a bit conflicting. Only you know what will calm the waters with your particular situation. It's so important to get the parent and P on your side. I teach first, and I always think about how the parents adore their child.

Whenever I meet with a parent for the first time about thier child, I begin by looking them in the eye and saying their "baby's" name with a sigh. , "Johnny. I just love Johnny! He is such a sweet child. I love how he ------"

Hopefully I'm able to speak truthfully about the child, because I really do care deeply about all my students, and it gets the parents on my side. It's so important for them to know that their child is spending the day with someone who truly cares about and for them.

Then, sitting side by side with the parent, we discuss their concerns and goals for the child. If they ask for something you know you can't or won't do, write it down and say, "Let me see how I can make that work" and then you can modify. Be ready to offer something manageable. Smile, smile, smile.

As far as the P, I'd thank her for all her help and guidance. She's new, and has so much to learn about how to be an effective P. You need to play the game. I'd first meet with the parent on my own, as that's less threatening to the parent. Ask the P to be on call in case you need her, but you won't. It will be fine. No matter how whacky the parent is, they love their child and are doing their best.

Please let us know what happens. We've all been there- you got this!
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Old 08-21-2017, 06:05 AM
 
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Wishing you the best in this tense situation. You've received lots of good information. The only thing I would add is this... when talking with parents, try your best to convey that you like their child and want the best for them. Go on to be honest about any issues, but always return to that care and respect that you have for the child.
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Great Advice Munchkins!
Old 08-21-2017, 11:24 AM
 
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Your take on this is spot on!
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I had your principal
Old 08-21-2017, 12:37 PM
 
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She was mine last year! That is why I transferred out of the building. I couldn't deal with the lies and lack of support when it came to parents!

You have gotten some amazing advice. I love this phrase:
Quote:
If they ask for something you know you can't or won't do, write it down and say, "Let me see how I can make that work" and then you can modify.
I'm going to use this forever! Good luck and please let us know the outcome. I really hope it gets better for you with this parent and this principal.
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Old 08-22-2017, 04:42 AM
 
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Oh man, I was getting angry just reading this! I would be very frustrated if a principal did this to me. I agree that a meeting with the parent is a good idea. Try to be polite and find out specifically what is bothering them. You do need to keep this mother on your side or she will make your year hell! Maybe after the meeting reach out about something positive the student has done in case you need to reach out to her for something negative.

Also, document everything! Every phone call, conversation, and email. Unfortunately you may need it to defend yourself.

You sound like a great teacher that just has a crazy mom and an unsupportive administration. Try to keep your head up!
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Thanks
Old 08-23-2017, 04:52 PM
 
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Again, thank you all for your advice. I'm meeting with Eric's mom Friday morning. I'll update the thread to let everyone know how it went and what happened.

I've been doing my part over the last several days. I've made lots of notes from the great tips provided here. I've collected assignments he did well on, made a list of compliments and ideas to put in place so that she will feel better about Eric's first grade year being a positive one.

I talked about this with my team's lead teacher. She's very experienced and kind. She even said that she'd be happy to join me either as a witness to what was said or as support for our grade level team to provide answers to questions that I might not know. I was relieved and happy to have the offer of legitimate help!

I thought that I had a good thing going until earlier today. I got the meeting scheduled on Monday, so I sent a calendar event to P notifying her of the scheduled meeting per school policy. I included a message with it about how I had a plan to have another party present, who it was and all the pluses of why. In a nice way, I said "thanks, but no thanks" to her attending. I thought everything was cool and settled down until around lunchtime today. I got a response from P telling me that having another teacher there was unnecessary, would make Eric's mom feel like she was being attacked if the meeting were between her and two other teachers. She told me to tell our lead that she isn't needed because P will be there to provide "any and all support that you will require during this meeting."

I am very disheartened. I feel like she's trying to tear me down and the sad part is that she's succeeding. Nothing I do is right or professional or okay to her. Now I'm back to panic mode. All the support I'll require? Yeah. That's what I'm afraid of.
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It will be ok
Old 08-23-2017, 06:41 PM
 
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Actually, having your P see all that you've done to prepare for this conference will work in your benefit. The parent will see that you have the administrator's support, so she can't threaten to meet with her- she already is. Your P will see all the positive steps you've taken to get the parent on your side. You will handle this like a pro. We're all behind you, cheering you on. You got this.
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Ugh
Old 08-25-2017, 01:05 PM
 
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This principal seems like a real witch. Keep your game plan because you sound totally prepared. I bet it will go well and the parentsjust wanted to be acknowledged. Once the conference is over, lay low so your principal won't have anything to complain about. Once my principal ran into me in the hall and said, "I haven't seen you in forever!" I smiled and said, "That's how I like it. That means I'm not in trouble!"

You got this, and I'm so happy you have a mentor teacher to turn to.
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The meeting
Old 08-26-2017, 10:57 AM
 
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Sorry for not posting yesterday, but I was pretty wiped out!

So the meeting happened...

Eric's mom shows up and I'm told that P had been meeting with a couple of other teachers but was on her way. His mom walks in, so I introduce myself and start a little small talk while I wait for P. After about 10 minutes of pleasantries and still no P, it's getting kind of uncomfortable. I moved my phone "out of the way" but not before turning on my voice recorder. I told his mom that we'd go ahead and start the meeting and catch P up when she came.

I started out by letting her talk. She never came out and told me anything that she'd supposedly said to P on the phone. She opened with something like: "I know Eric doesn't like coming to school and that it was like that last year, but I thought it would be better this time. The first week was bad but the second week was worse. That's when he started crying and saying he hated it here and it bothered me that he was crying and all that, so that's why I was worried. I didn't want him to be like that. And now it seems like it sorted itself out but I knew I told you I'd be here so that's why I'm here. He tells me his days are good now so I don't know what happened."

I listened to her, then started talking about the big differences between kinder and 1st, how the first couple of weeks can be a difficult adjustment for some children, but by the third or fourth, they know what to expect and are more settled. I told her that he always seems happy here, smiles, gives hugs, has lots of friends, etc. but that my main concern was about his disinterest and lack of motivation. She agreed and said she saw that at home as well and it wasn't anything new.

About 15 minutes went by before P showed up. She came in and sat down, then listened to be summarize what had happened so far. Eric's mom started talking about his personality at home, with friends and family, at school last year, and at school this year. P listens and then asks her if she's ever considered taking him to therapy before going on to recommend a child psychologist that she knew. Seriously. That's what happened.

I could tell that Eric's mom wasn't loving that idea, so I tried to do some damage control by asking if she'd be interested in having our school guidance counselor talk to Eric instead. She was, so I told her I'd arrange it. P kept trying to overtake the meeting and I let her every time. But every time she did it, she'd say something that was either irrelevant (like talking about her son who is in college, doesn't like getting up early, and has a problem with a professor as a result) or off-putting (like telling a person her kid needs therapy after knowing her for 30 seconds). After several instances of that, I felt like sitting back and giving her enough rope to hang herself was my best option. After all, she was doing such a great job of it.

I gave Eric's mom an envelope with a few different worksheets that she could do with him at home to practice the areas he needs to improve. I also went over a little Partent/Teacher Conference form with her to show areas he does well in and then areas he needs to improve. I made sure that this was done in front of P.

P ended up leaving after about 10-15 minutes (thanks for the support!), but not before she said "I'm glad things seem to be better. I think the issue was that Eric got used to his teacher last year. All teachers are different, so I think that Ms. Frost is probably more strict than his teacher last year and has different expectations of him. Once he got used to Ms. Frost and how she does things, he's improved." So, again, all my fault.

Eric's mom ended up talking to me for nearly an hour! I had to run her off because I'd already gone about 15 minutes over my planning period! She told me a bevy of interesting stories, so I just let her talk. I got to hear about how Eric called 911 over the summer to tell them that his mom was fighting a police officer in their yard, how Eric told her that I took his lunch away from him as a punishment ("You didn't, though, right?"), how her parents were supposed to be at the meeting with her because "They told me that I need to tell you this and that, and let you know this and that" but then they had to work, how she was okay with him hating school because she dropped out after 9th grade, and so many other tales.

She kept telling me that she was only at the meeting because we'd previously scheduled it and she wasn't concerned about the issue anymore. I made sure that she had all of my contact information and walked her out. I think that it ended on a positive note, so for that, I am grateful. I didn't see P again until after lunch. I wasn't going to approach her, but she came to me. She patted me on the back and said, "You did great in the meeting. I had to go to get to another meeting and she just kept repeating herself anyway, so there wasn't anything else for me to add, but I think it went well."

AND I got to let Eric's mom know that this wasn't my first journey into teaching. She'd asked for my opinion about an issue Eric has with phonemic awareness. I answered her by saying, "I wouldn't be too concerned with that right now. It's something that is common at this age and I've seen it with many of my kinders and firsts over the years." So I got to say what I wanted without being negative toward P or sounding like a b about it.
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Sounds like a great meeting!
Old 08-26-2017, 11:24 AM
 
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Except for the length! The parent knows you are on her side and want success for her son, you both see the same kind of behavior at school and at home, and the principal is an idiot! Not sure if the parent saw that, but at least you know what you are dealing with and can avoid her.

It sounds like you handled the situation perfectly! I know you are relieved!
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go for you
Old 08-26-2017, 11:52 AM
 
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Sounds like it all went well for you. I'm sorry it went so long, but I suspect mom will now be on your side the entire year. You let her talk and she will perceive that someone who cares not just about her son, but her as well, which will get her on your side.
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Old 08-26-2017, 12:04 PM
 
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You handled that situation so well.
Plus I think you did a little missionary work with the Mom and every future teacher will reap the benefits.
Please keep in touch with Eric's Mom --- you are giving her the tools to help her child succeed in school.

The child may continue to try your every nerve but now you have some pretty big insights into the workings of his world.
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Your P! Holy Cow!
Old 08-26-2017, 12:10 PM
 
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Holy cow, your P is an idiot.
Quote:
P listens and then asks her if she's ever considered taking him to therapy before going on to recommend a child psychologist that she knew.
Your district is now on the hook for all of the accrued psychological bills related to therapy for this child. Seriously indeed!

As I reread how you handled this situation I concluded that YOU are a ROCK STAR in every way possible! Seriously.

This P jumps to conclusions and is willing to hang you out to dry. Now you know and it's time to CYA. Write a detailed conference report, including the P's suggestion for outside counseling. (Good grief!) Record the mother's statement about previous issues with her son and that she was no longer concerned abut her son. I'm sure you've already done this because you are one on the ball teacher!

You know instinctively that this is a mom you'll want to maintain contact with during the year and ensure she knows whats happening at school. (Hold her hand) Keep notes about every contact with her.

As for the P, I would be so tempted to put on my passive aggressive game face. Since she's pegged you as being too strict (without any proof) I'd be syrupy and sweet when talking to her about my students. When she stops by for classroom observations I'd lay the honey on thick as could be and be Ms. Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice. I'm sure you're above such shenanigans but sometimes it feels good to be bad.

I take my hat off to you, Ms.Frost. You handled things perfectly. Now enjoy your weekend knowing you earned it!
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SO proud of you!!!
Old 08-26-2017, 12:19 PM
 
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You handled everything perfectly! What a pro. So glad its behind you, and you won over a difficult parent. You also have your P on your side. Regardless of what a twit she is, she writes your evaluation, so it's essential to have her approval.

Way to go!!!
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Awesome!
Old 08-26-2017, 05:20 PM
 
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Thanks for update! Great job!

I'd still be on my toes with the principal!
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Old 08-27-2017, 05:31 AM
 
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You handled everything so well. Mom knows you care and you have some helpful insights and information from her. She may have trouble following through but it sounds like she knows the two of you are a team for her child.

Your P showed her true colors even more clearly. At least you know what she's all about. She sounds like a very weak listener, communicator and leader. A previous poster is correct, the parent could use P's suggestion to see a therapist to demand the district pay for it. For a principal not to know that is bad. For her to respond to the parent's first phone call as she did also shows her lack of experience and common sense.
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Mrs. Frost
Old 09-07-2017, 01:40 PM
 
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You are wonderful! I love the details of what you did in working with the student, parent and principal. You are a great listener and a great example of how to handle a bad situation and make it better.

You are my role-model, MsFrost!
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Old 09-08-2017, 06:28 AM
 
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After reading all this and seeing the advice, I thought Union would be good. I'm happy you recorded the conversation. I've had to record a conversation between me and P before. My union person said as long as 1 person knows they are being recorded, it's legal.

Sounds like everything went well and we are all cheering for you!!

Tell "Eric" he's going to be awesome and I'm glad things are going better.

As for P, if you are union, please keep them informed. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.
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