Friday, May 12, 2006

Wherein I Encounter a Misprint and an Incivility

One of my students was going to be gone much of this week, so he completed work in his absence. He turned in a news article that began as follows: "May 17, 2005, a day that will live in infancy." At least he's paying some attention in his social studies class.

On a more sour note, I had a phone conversation with a parent today. Her son has been struggling in my class all year and had been a discipline problem. The issue is motivation, not lack of competence. At fall conferences, she admitted that every year they have struggled with their son not wanting to do work in school and frequently being disrespectful and behaviorally disruptive in classes. So, "As a teacher, what are YOU going to do about this?" I didn't know how to tell her that the issue seemed to be more systemic then I could solve; it began at home years ago and couldn't be solved in a school setting. She had been bailing him out, finding excuses: inept teachers, a school system that was victimizing her son. But today, as we talked, she ended with this quip: "I think the main reason my son has struggled in your class is because of personality differences. And after this conversation, I think I know why." With that, she ruined my lunchtime. By sixth hour, I had healed, though. I was reminded what I meant to my students through a couple of spontaneous comments and that this was just one disgruntled parent. I had been professional and understanding on the phone, apparently to no avail. Throughout my two years in the district, I have received praise and support from many parents, and yet I allowed the dissatisfied parent in that time to make me doubt myself. It is so true that a harsh word needs many positive affirmations to counter it.

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