Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Helicopter parents.... those who hover over their children, trying to rescue them, instead of encouraging and teaching responsibilty......are often more complex to deal with than parents who simply do not care.
Yesterday morning, I was met at my door as students were arriving by stepmom to one of my students. In her hand was a completed math homework assignment. She went on to explain that Student X had INDEED completed this when it was due, but had forgotten to bring it to class. It seems he was upset I did not believe him when he told me it was completed at home.
She went on to say she didn't care if he got credit or not, and she had told him the same, she just wanted me to know it WAS done.
Student X does very little work, in class, or on his own. Almost every day, he tells me some tale of woe: his paper is in his locker completed, it is at home under his bed completed, it was sucked into a parallel universe by Martians (OK, I made that one up!!). But when pressed to dig in the locker, the paper emerges incomplete, or later falls out of his book, incomplete. Therefore, when he told me AGAIN that his paper was done, just left at home, I had no sympathy for him.
Backing up to stepmom now, our conversation about Student X continued as she explained the story again to me, that he is back and forth between her house and mom's house. He lies to her about most everything from school work to anything else. She explains the resources he has available to get extra help while with her and his dad, sounding nearly as frustrated as I am.
Rewind for a minute. Since the begining of the school year, I have been in contact with both sets of parents on more than one occasion, explaining the young X wastes time, doodles instead of working, etc... Each conversation results in a day of improvement which quickly fades to the previous state of accomplishment.
So this afternoon, I get an email from 'real' mom. She is upset because X came home and told her he has a test this Friday but had only one worksheet to study for it. She wants to know what resources I can send her to help him so he can "bring his grade up before the end of the marking period". X currently has a D-. Even a 100% on Friday's map quiz will only bring his grade up to a D.
I go on to explain AGAIN to her how social studies class is organized. We have 1 set of social studies books to share among all 7th graders. We use these occasionally in class, but never do I give an assignment students would need the book to complete. When we do have a test covering readings from the book, we read it together in class, I give them notes, make foldables, have students make vocabulary cards, etc... to make studying for the test easier than if they actually used the book. I post a powerpoint of the notes online so students can use it to review. I review with them in class repeatedly, including giving test taking strategies.
I also explain to her again, that ALL my assignments are posted online at my website - the link for which went home the first day of school and is also included in my email signature. I also point out that assignments can be viewed in PowerSchool (online grading program) as well.
My biggest gripe of the situation... Mom seems not concerned with the poor study habits X has developed at all. She does not seem concerned about his lack of understanding the material. She does not ask for anything except for a way to bring his grade up!
Wouldn't it have made more sense to have considered that sooner instead of waiting until the end of the marking period??
I have suggested X attend afterschool tutoring, but it seems, "that doesn't work for him". I have suggested X come see me before school, during seminar or at lunch, but as of yet, I have not seen him.
The mom, as well as the stepmom, seem frustrated with X, granted. However, all parties seem to want ME to accept more responsibility for his success than he is willing to accept. One of the past emails actually requested I email them when he is missing an assignment. I pointed out that I record grades EVERY day in PowerSchool which they can easily access.
Sometimes, I think parents forget that we teach more than just their child. While I agree that teachers should try to make parents part of the school equation, students must be expected to be responsible for their own learning as well.
Student X was given a planner to use, but he never brings it to class, never writes in it, and parents never check it. Where does the responsibility fall??
The deafening sound of helicopter blades make me head spin........

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