Saturday, January 28, 2006

Parent Influence

Meeting the parents really helps explain why the students act the way they do. I just don't know what to do with that now and in the class.

For example, I met with a parent of one of my 8th grade pre-algebra students last week. First of all, she's almost 17 in the 8th grade and she has had an attitude in class from day one. I told her to stop talking with her friend and get back to work quietly, and she told me to shut up. I sent her to the office, and the principal called and asked what she should do. At our school, there aren't any other forms of punishment besides paddling and suspension. I told the principal to arrange a parent conference. The mother came in a couple of days later. I explained what happened, and through my whole explanation the daughter interrupted me, calling me a liar. The mother did nothing to stop the girl from talking back to me. When I asked the daughter to explain what had happened, she said that she was asking her friend for help on a problem. I said that asking a student for help is talking and that she isn't allowed to ask other students for help when she's taking a quiz. Again, the girl said that I was lying, she hadn't been talking, I just hate her . . . on and on and on. Finally, the mother said that the girl should say she's sorry. The girl said she would say it but that it wouldn't mean anything. And that was pretty much it for the parent conference. We accomplished nothing, and now the daughter hates me more. I see why she acts this way; no one will stop her. But I don't know what to do with that now to make her do her work. On the other hand, I don't know how much it matters if she does her work or not since she will be put in the GED program next year anyway because she's too old. I'll settle for her not distracting the others in class.

I met another parent last week about one kid who is almost 19 in my geometry class. He missed about 25 days of class last nine weeks, and of course failed. Our handbook says that a student is not allowed to miss more than 20 days of school in an entire year, but our administration has chosen to interpret that as 20 consecutive days. Basically, they don't want to kick any one out of school; that's one of those downsides of having such a close community. The mother told me about how last nine weeks the father was let out of jail after 14 years and the son had moved in with him while the mother had moved away to another city. She was totally unaware of how the son was doing at school. The father was recently put back in jail, and the son is not living with either parent right now. She pleaded with me to give her son another chance so that he can graduate this year. I agreed to let him try to make-up the work from last semester, which I am already regretting. I gave the student a second chance last nine weeks when I gave him all the homework assignments for the second time in a packet. This will be my third time to put together work for him to complete. And it isn't up to the mother, it's up to the student who just doesn't care. That same day that I met with the mother, the student did not come to tutorial after telling me many times during the day that he would. There's really nothing you can do for a student who isn't motivated, and I just feel so bad for these parents.


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