The thing that was wearing me down last week was that I was dealing with Parent/Teacher conflict from the parent side for the first time. I have dreaded this type of conflict since Rosalind started school because as a teacher I am privy to how well-received difficult parents are by teachers. Short answer: not very well-received at all.
I told Sergio that I would write a post about the whole ordeal, focusing primarily on what it’s like to be both a parent and a teacher, if I could find the right words. It turns out, I can’t really find the right words. This whole post is very stilted, much like my feelings about the whole thing.
It’s a fine line to walk. You understand the limitations of a classroom. You know what you can reasonably expect from a teacher in regard to your child in a sea of 30. You even know district policies and how to use the same grading system they do. The thing is, all of that information only makes it easier for you to pinpoint EXACTLY where you feel the teacher has mucked up the works. So now you have the natural parent reaction to negative information about your kid which is to become an angry velociraptor ready to rip out the offending teachers throat just on the principle that your kid is a perfect damn delight, thank you very much! AND you have the knowledge to point out to them very specifically how they are doing a bad job by actual teaching standards.
So let’s just say that despite my normal lack of assertiveness, I was quite the formidable parent to face last week. I had four pages of notes, individual printed grade reports, and highlighted policies in my own printed district handbook. If you really want to watch an administrator squirm, go in with all of that in your arms and a lawyer as your spouse. Also, be deadly calm because I think that really disorients them.
And I won? I mean, I guess that’s right? I was correct in my concerns and had them dealt with accordingly at more than one level (before it was over I had met with the teacher, the principal, and my own building union rep). The problem is that when you demand that your child be treated fairly, according to correct policies, and attended to in an appropriate manner, you are basically written off. It’s not fair, but it is the truth. I threw away my Reasonable Parent Card. Now I am THAT parent. The parent to be avoided. My kid is THAT kid. The kid to be tiptoed around. I’m left feeling more uncomfortable than ever before.
Here’s the truth. In a situation like this one everyone is going to be the asshole. The school will be an asshole because they hide behind not getting sued instead of just listening to you. You’ll turn into an asshole because you’ll get frustrated and petty. And of course your kid was genuinely an asshole to begin with, which is how this whole thing got going (don’t kid yourself, literally every human being, your kiddo included, can be a real toot under the correct circumstances). It’s tough. I have no relevant advice from the perspective of the teacher or the parent. Oh! Yes, I do! Document, document, document. Both sides. Write it all down!
I would do it again. My kid needed an advocate, and I was one. I can stand behind that. I learned a lot about what, when, and how I would like to know things as a parent. I hope that makes me a better teacher going forward.
If you’re concerned, let me assure you that Rolo is doing just fine in school. She’s just a turd sometimes, like I said. I feel like now is the time to point out that 2nd grade is the year that Sergio was first diagnosed as being unable to read by one school, despite being an advanced reader, and later pretended to be blind for so long they skipped him to the third grade. So I guess the asshole apple doesn’t fall far from the asshole tree?