Truthfully, I know I shouldn’t pass judgment on parents when I myself have never experienced the pain, trouble and work that go along with raising a teenager, but sometimes, parents drive me crazy. I’d like to think I was a pretty good teenager, and I am sure my parents might agree or disagree, depending on how they were feeling about me at that particular moment or whether or not I had pissed them off that day. I think teaching middle school is one of the most difficult yet rewarding grade levels to teach – of course I am fully aware that teaching middle school is my ONLY teaching experience, but hey, I have coached high school volleyball for 8 years, so that counts for something, right? But the end of the year stress for myself (and others, I might add) may not actually be the children in my classroom. It’s the parents of those children that tend to drive me insane.
Why is it that parents who hadn’t been involved ALL school year (or were involved at first, but then drop off the face of the Earth) now suddenly decide to parent and email the teachers demanding to know why their child is not earning an “A” in their classrooms? They are like those resurrection ferns you see while hiking in Myakka that look like they're dead in the heat of the summer, all dried up and brittle. But the moment it rains, they wake up out of dormancy and come back to life. I know it’s never too late to get involved, but I just love it when parents freak out with only 12 days of school left once they’ve realized their child hasn’t turned crap in all quarter and ask why we can’t make a special exception for their child because little Johnny just doesn’t have the self esteem to earn another zero.
I especially enjoy it when parents ask us why we grade the way we do and try to provide suggestions, like giving a grade based on effort. “But little Johnny would have handed it into you if you had told him that it was due.” You’re right lady, I make sure your kid is beyond earshot or in the bathroom shitting his brains out and THEN I tell the rest of the class that the assignment is due the next day. Not to mention that information is written on the frickin’ board in the same freakin’ spot everyday. But hey, it’s never little Johnny’s fault, is it? It’s because I’m a rotten teacher.
I also really enjoy meeting with parents, coming up with ideas and strategies to help their child, and then the parent never following through on any of them. Then when you call them on it, it’s like they never agreed to do any of that anyway. NO WONDER your child has an 80 IQ, for the love of God!
Truthfully, I feel sorry for the children of these parents, because their parents are not consistently involved in their education. And kids know when adults aren’t being genuine. I think this parental behavior is a source of empowerment for the students, because if they aren’t receiving enough attention at home and notice that their parents appear to give a crap when their grades slip, then they put 2 and 2 together. They begin to let their grades slip on purpose, JUST so they can get the attention they crave, and more importantly, need from their parents.
I know for every neglected child I have in my class, there are 75 kids who are blessed and lucky enough to have parents who care and who are willing to do whatever it takes to help their child succeed on their own. For all you good parents out there – thank you for being supportive and involved. Keep up the good work. Your child will thank you someday.