Monday, September 08, 2008

Yes, but what he neglected to tell you is....

Since I've resumed teaching, I'm noticing a very copious trend occurring. Over the course of the last two weeks, I seem to be repeating myself quite a bit. From anything related to rules and procedures to lessons and processes, if you've heard me say it once, then you've probably heard me say it a thousand times. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record.

Now, granted repetition and teaching sort of go hand in hand. I understand this quite well. However, I've managed to pin-point the phrase which has been growing in popularity of late: Yes, but what he neglected to tell you is...

Enter parent-teacher correspondence number one.

I was summoned to the office one day last week. A parent decided to make a trip to school to address his concern personally. When I arrived at the office, our clerk translated the parent's question to me and my response vise versa. At one point in the conversation, the parent drug his daughter's backpack above the countertop and slumped it onto the clerk's desk. It was loaded with textbooks (approximately 6). I could tell by the expression on his face that he was unhappy. After a few seconds of waiting, the office clerk gave me her rendition of his worry.

What he said:
"I'm troubled that my daughter is having to carry so many books home from school. Do you require students to bear so many books?"

What I said:
"Yes. But what she neglected to tell you is that I gave the class one and a half weeks to get all six textbooks covered."

What I wanted to say:
"Her newly acquired back pain may have occurred as a result of her procrastination in completing an assignment."

Enter parent-teacher correspondence number two.

I received a phone call one day after school. The parent on the other end of the line was not interested in making small talk or exchanging pleasantries. She was brief and cut straight to the point.

What she said:
"My son came home yesterday upset. He said that he was on the playground kicking a soccer ball, when one of the playground attendants approached him and issued him a detention. Did you authorize this?"

What I said:
"Yes. But what he neglected to tell you is that after kicking the soccer ball into the air, he hit said playground attendant square in the face, and then proceed to laugh and joke around with his friend about the horrible ordeal.

What I wanted to say:
"His distress may have been caused by his tendency to perpetrate mischief."

Enter parent-teacher correspondence number three.

After her son received a detention for failing to turn in his homework, one mother sent me a curious note.

What she wrote:
"Mrs. Sincire, my son seems to think that he is being unfairly treated. He is extremely bright and doesn't feel like you are challenging him. He says that he is bored. Did you give him a detention?"

What I wrote:
Yes. But what he neglected to tell you is that for the past eight days your son has failed to turn in his homework.

What I wanted to write:
"His boredom may be a result of his chronic LAZINESS."

This list would literally go on, and on. I have neither the patience, nor the battery life to publish them all, but I think you get the point. As a parent and a teacher, I now have the unique privilege of seeing both sides of the issue. I'm sure I've taken stands for my daughter in instances where what I really should have done is sit down. I get the inclination to defend your offspring. But the next time you storm into the Principal's office, pick up the telephone, or wield a pen in defense of your precious angel, consider--just for one moment-- that it is quite possible that there is something--some pertinent detail-- that he has neglected to tell you. ;)


woosterweester said...

This post made me laugh on so many levels! As my daughter enters pre-school I'm sure I will hear my share of "it's the teacher's fault" stories, but hopefully I'll be able to remember there's always two sides to every story!

Alli said...

I love that parents always assume that if their child is 1) bored or 2) not succeeding, it is because they are brilliant and need to be challenged. While I agree that above average students to need to be challenged to keep from being bored, that is a rare occurence. Usually they are "bored" because they haven't been paying attention in class and have no idea what is going on. But, parents always want to believe the best about their precious little, perfect, brilliant angels! :)

Thanks for sharing this story, Dionne! Very funny.

Robin H said...

I remember these kinds of incidents very well from my days of substitute teaching 4th grade and then high school. There have been many times when I wanted to hover my craft over my daughter's high school to tell a teacher or two they were doing it wrong. But I resisted... and yet I still wonder if I should have. Probably not.

Sarah said...

What? You mean - gasp - MY precious one could be at fault?!! It's always someone else's fault! (sarcasm)

Scary to think what the parent is teaching the child in this ...


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