Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Of attitude and adolescents

Of all the things you are trained to do when learning how to be a teacher the one thing that's not covered is Parent Teacher nights. No one actually sits down and gives you guidelines on how to conduct it. Despite having taught for many years now I still wonder what all the other teachers say and why I am not made of sterner stuff.

The last few nights we've had Parent Teacher interviews, one of which has stuck in my head. This particular child does the work easily, is a quick study but is very chatty in class. This doesn't hinder her at all, as she frequently tells me, because she still gets the work done.

You may discern from that she has a bit of an attitude happening. This is a new thing- when I taught her in Year 7 we had a good relationship. This has unravelled a little recently. I have found it almost impossible to  get this child to work at a quieter level. She has been moved- she continued to argue with me publicly- and asked to be quiet on several occasions. Still it continued. She persisted with a low grade attitude towards me, yet not quite enough for me to take serious action, especially as the term was finishing and I would hand them back to their regular teacher.

Yet, at Parent Teacher night instead of sternly raising her attitude problem I was embarrassed that mine was the only class in which she was so chatty. When I raised it with her parents they were surprised, no other teacher had made the same comment.  The child, who was present as they are encouraged to be, didn't even look shame faced. 

Why am I not sterner? Why didn't I make a bigger deal about it?

The parents did tell her she was rude and disrespectful and that she should apologise to me. They said this as they departed, of course, she got up and didn't apologise. Why should I end up feeling embarrassed when the child is the one with the poor behaviour? Or her parents? Why weren't they more embarrassed?

Almost making up for that uncomfortable interview was the one where the parent was actually pleased with me. Apparently I had wrought some kind of miracle as her daughter was not only enjoying English, she was doing well, and had embraced Romeo and Juliet with enthusiasm too. (Yay me.)


  1. I get really angry when the parents say their kid doesn't have a problem with any other teacher, with all its implications.

    It's really hard to be a replacement teacher. I admire you for persisting with it.


  2. Yay you :)

    The rest of it... hard to know. Tough to be tough sometimes.

  3. That would definitely be a tough position to be in--especially if you felt like the only one pointing out the behavior.

    Whenever the topic of Parent Teacher conferences comes up, I am always reminded of the one I went to for my second oldest son when he was in first grade. I was the last meeting of the night, son not present and I have no idea to this day how this happened, but the teacher, whom I had never met before began telling me in great detail about the conference of one of my son's classmates who was a huge behavior problem. She told me that she had videotaped the little girl and played it for the parents at the meeting, she went on to tell me the parents' reactions in great detail and then somehow began telling me about her divorce (which was six years before) including the fact that she was in bed with her husband when he asked for the divorce completely out of the blue, etc, etc.

    The whole time, I was just sitting there occasionally nodding or mumbling, "Oh, wow." or "Oh, really?" because I had NO IDEA how else to react. I was in the classroom for over forty minutes, approximately seven minutes of which pertained to my son. I was very young then and terrified of offending my son's teacher so I didn't say anything to stop her, but I probably should have.

    1. Wow. That other kids parents must have really wound her up! Did you ever see this teacher again?

    2. Only a few more times during Son-Two's time in her classroom, but then she became a fairly regular customer of the flower shop where I worked and every "conversation" with her pretty mirrored this one. She's retired now, thank goodness. And hopefully happier and more at peace.

  4. Masked Mom- Huh! Guess my experience in comparision was normal! Strange teachers out there.
    NQ- ta.
    Fraudy- yeah, thanks. I forget that and don't give myself enough credit. I'm just a little annoyed with myself that I didn't say: your daughter is rude in class, bluntly.
    If I end up back there Term 3 (it's been raised as a possibility) I will be tackling this head on if it happens.