Jump to content

Bad Parent Conference


Ro-bear
 Share

Recommended Posts

I had a parent conference today. A boy has been acting up in my Fundamental (the lowest academic level) English class, and it has hampered my effectiveness in the classroom. It's a long story; suffice it to say that he is openly defiant and disruptive, bent on undermining my authority. Bear in mind, I'm no authoritarian. I'm a free spirit, a civil liberties kind of guy. I think people should go naked and get over themselves. But I digress.

 

The boy and his mom enter the conference room. The whole thing was set up before Spring Break; the situation had become intolerable, and I didn't mind staying an hour past leaving time to seek a resolution to the conflict. Actually, there were many issues. His behavior in my class was just the proverbial straw.

 

I got to go first. I gave a chronological narrative of his history in my class as honestly as I could. I could barely conceal my anger, however, because I am very unaccustomed to disrespect from my students. This kid picked a quarrel with me in class today just because we were having this conference, then he stalked out of my classroom, went to see an administrator, and ran his mouth more than he should have for his own good. He basically made my case for me.

 

The boy gets to tell his version next. In this version, which is surely true in some bizarro alternate reality, he calmly entered my classroom today when I suddenly and without provocation accosted him for no reason at all. As he calmly tried to soothe my pique and reason with me, I totally wigged out and started calling him abominable names in a falsetto shriek. Those of you who know me so well know that this is exactly how I conduct myself.

 

Fortunately, history supported my view of events. In eight years of teaching at this school, his was the first case of outright defiance I had been compelled to seek redress for. This year alone, he has been brought to the office on similar charges by four of his eight teachers. This fact lends credence to my testimony.

 

Poor Mom, single, beleaguered, utterly unable to cope with a boy she has sent to live with an aunt, just wants the kid to pass his classes and graduate. He is a promising athlete, might well be offered a scholarship, except...

 

*sigh* ...the kid is in "See Spot run" English, and he is a junior. He passed the 10th grade gateway test as a tenth grader. He is smart enough for the "regular" level (next to lowest, comprised of lazy kids of average intelligence, motivated kids of low intelligence, sorta motivated sorta below-average kids, etc. Not college-bound. None of 'em) This boy is too lazy for the lazy kid class, but he is so bored in the Fundamental class, which my fifth grade daughter would roll her eyes at as ridiculously easy, that he must act out and prove his manhood by thwarting the ridiculous, idealistic old man who thinks he can help these kids.

 

And, in a way, I see where he is coming from. He is not being served. We do not have classes for kids who want to do nothing, follow no rules, and magically still be prepared to succeed in college. I feel sorry for his classmates, the truly academically-challenged kids who need some real-world vocational training so they can prepare for the lives they will surely live instead of a vain attempt to teach them academic skills they haven't picked up and will never pick up.

 

Baggage, baggage, baggage. No Dad. Mom more worried about her job, wants the boy problem to go away by itself. Nobody understands him. Nobody cares. Why should he bust his hump in Mr R's class? I get that; I really do. But what am I supposed to do with the compliant kids who need the credit to graduate, who need my attention which is pilfered by a constant demand for classroom management?

 

I don't have an answer. i just have a mirror that I have to look at every morning when I try to make myself a role model. I don't see a role model. I see an antagonist, the Enemy, a heavy. I'm freakin' Edward G. Robinson. A busted bathroom smoker here, a dress code violation there. No sleeping in class. I'm so tired. Summer can't come soon enough.

 

A rant should make me feel better, like taking a shit. But I don't want to do it in my friends' house and stink up the place. Still, I have to tell somebody. My poor wife doesn't need it today, and we have this handy rants forum here, and nobody has to read it anyway. If you read it anyway, I appreciate your interest. Thank you Dave for providing this forum, and thank you all for being a good audience. I'm going to attempt a chemical enhancement of my mood, a mai tai, because this hasn't worked at all.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ro-Bear,

This kid's issues may be just a coping mechanism, or it may be bigger than both of you. Hard to say. In his home environment as it is, it may be just a method he's using to find himself, or he may be depressed, or he may have an oppositional/defiant disorder. Only a skilled psychologist or psychiatric social worker can sort that stuff out. He may have a profound respect for you as his teacher, or he may not. Those behavioral challenges might just be a smokescreen for "Thanks for noticing me." Again, hard to tell.

 

But whatever the outcome, it sounds like you care, and you're doing your best to try and show it. Hopefully, he'll notice. And who knows, he just might be able to build on that enough to find a path to success in life. That will be the ball in his court. You're doing all you can do. Congratulations for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ro-Bear,

 

What comes through to me loud and clear is that YOU CARE. You're just feeling down right now--as any normal human being would after such a day--because everything is going against right now. I take it a conference with a parent is a last resort kind of thing. And it went badly. You have a perfect right to rant. Whew!

 

About that mirror. I have one too. Sometimes I ask myself if anybody else ever feels like I do when all I can see in that mirror is me. It seems totally impossible. Not a single other human being can possibly feel like I do...But wait.

 

Recently I keep being surprised at the person looking back at me. I wonder what makes the difference. Might it have something to do with cumulative positive feedback from folks around me? It sure does! Dr. Peale had it right and so did St. Paul. Collect the good things about yourself. Focus on your talents--one of which is a caring heart--and literally collect all the positive things you note about yourself.

 

Some self-help books say to keep a journal and record all the good things one notices about oneself. Maybe that's only needed for worst case scenarios like myself. You're a good writer and I loved your story. It's so vivid. I could see and hear and smell the stuff that was happening. Feel the vibration on the floor when the door slammed. Yep, Ro, you're a good writer and a kind English teacher to boot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*Hugs*

 

Ro-bear, I have to agree with the others. You seem like a very kind and caring person. It takes someone like that to deal with the kids that nobody else wants to deal with. I can't imagine how much patience something like that takes.

 

Kudos to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Based on behaviors of our older adoptees, I'd wonder if somewhere along the line the kid has been/is being sexually molested. Don't know if you have any way of having somebody check this out, Ro-, but in any case, you have done nothing whatsoever except what the most committed, involved teacher would do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks to all for the support. Today was better, and now the weekend has arrived, bringing all the pleasure of a delicious promise kept.

 

I've discussed the boy's case with his counselor, and she provided some valuable insight. All of his problems have been with male teachers. He has no father. There are rumors to the effect that his mother has had serial boyfriends; you know, Count Chocula, Cap'n Crunch, Frankenberry...

 

 

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

 

Anyway, I don't claim to be a psychologist (although I took several psychology courses and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express once), but it seems possible that the young man has some trust and/or authority issues with men.

 

I dreaded today. His attitude in the meeting yesterday gave no cause for optimism. I was sure he would seek another confrontation for fear of losing face with his classmates, who by now expect him to push my buttons. He walked on the right side of the line, though, and I didn't make it too hard for him to stay there. I tried to reach out subtly, and he seemed to do the same. He correctly answered a question I directed to him (I made sure he was the sixth or seventh student out of fifteen I directed a question toward to prevent his feeling singled out) and I said "Exactly!" and went to the next kid. Later, he began to volunteer some responses to general questions addressed to the class as a whole that were just hanging in the air. I don't think we're out of the woods, but I see positive signs. The weekend will provide a nice cooling-off period. I hope we get off to a good start on Monday. I need to plan some especially engaging material to make it easier for him to segue into his new role of non-asshole.

 

At any rate, it's nice to know I can sound off somewhere. I appreciate the encouragement, sympathy, and insights you all have offered. This place and you members help me to cope with the parts of life that are lonely and difficult; it's like church without the guilt trips and lousy music.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This place and you members help me to cope with the parts of life that are lonely and difficult; it's like church without the guilt trips and lousy music.

 

I love that. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm sorry, but I haven't actually got any advice for you. I'd just like to let you know that you have given me, an opinionated 17 year old, a new found respect and admiration for teachers.

 

Honestly, and I am not exaggerating, you seem to be nothing short of a hero. You put up with more than I ever could.

 

I can't find any words to express how I feel about this post. I certainly can't find any secular ones so please forgive me, but...god bless you.

 

peace

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.