Give me a break. Every single one of these parents has my cell phone number and feels free to use it. They drop in to check on their children and check on me. They invite me to their churches, bring me food, tell me whom I should marry, and cry to me about having to put their mother in a home. I have a positive relationship with our community. None of them feel like she's approachable. She's the one missing a positive relationship with our community.
I am so angry right now that it's hard to sit still. The nerve of this woman telling me that I'm the one who's wrong here. She says I can't use the words "rude," "lazy," or "angry," because those are negative. For example, "'Lamar' has had a couple of days when he was rude to me but overall he is working very well and his attitude is improving greatly." Now, Lamar has no problem with me saying this. His dad has no problems with me saying this. In fact, the reason why Lamar is doing better with me than anyone else, I think, is because I don't talk down to him, sugar-coat things, or pretend his behavior is OK when it's not. I tell him that he's being rude. End of story. He knows exactly what I expect.
The same goes for the words "lazy" and "angry." I said that one student was a great writer when he wasn't being lazy. Those are his mother's words and his words. And the truth. I said "TJ" had a hard time when he was angry. It's the truth. I've talked to his mother, his counselor and him about it. This is part of the reason I am effective - that I don't waste words. If a child is doing something wrong, they know exactly what it is and what I expect. And I believe that is a major part of why I have developed such good relationships with so many students and parents.
I am so angry. I wasted all day trying to deal with her and write her a letter. I'll copy it below. And people wonder why so many teachers quit after a couple of years. It's not because of the kids as much as it is because of the ignorant and crazy-making administrators.
I won't "re-due" the report cards. I won't even redo them. There are a very few comments that made sense - I'll change those. As for the others, I'll explain to her exactly why I refuse to change them. She'll probably demand that I change them, and I'll refuse. Report cards may seem like a silly thing to take a stand on, but I've got to do it somewhere and I'm about DONE with this woman.
Here's the letter:
March 9, 2007
Thank you for the quick feedback on the report cards. I found some of your comments to be very helpful but I cannot agree with all of them. Please keep in mind that I know all of the students and their parents very well; in fact I have known some of these parents for years. I have definitely built a positive relationship with these parents – many of them knew me beforehand and requested that their student be in my class. While there is always more to learn and I have not come as far as possible with report card comments, I simply cannot agree with all of the comments. In fact, with some of them (the ones you just crossed out and didn’t say why they need to be completely redone), I cannot figure out what could possibly be offensive or hurt the positive relationships that I do, in fact, have with the parents of these children. I have showed these particular comments to colleagues and they also cannot see anything past maybe one or two words that might be changed.
- Lamar has been rude a few times. He has no problem admitting it, his dad welcomes the feedback, we’ve worked through it all together, and I do not think it is offensive or unprofessional to mention that he’s been working on this.
- Tatania has had problems taking out her frustrations out on other children. That is neither offensive nor unprofessional – it is something that her mother needs to know and that Tatania is working on.
- The same idea with Ann – she does, in fact, try to make writing assignments short and she does not generally read directions but waits for others to explain things to her. If you have a specific way to reword this while keeping the idea, I'm welcome to suggestions. But I cannot take this out, as it is important.
- I do not understand why I cannot say that TJ likes math best – it is his favorite subject, he gets very excited by it. That can’t possibly hurt the positive relationship I have with his mother! Also, he does have problems when he is angry. He knows this, his mother knows this - I've even talked to his counselor about this. No one is upset with me for using that word.
- I see nothing wrong with the comments about Amani. Amani does get upset when she doesn’t do something perfectly and she needs to take time to calm down. She doesn’t like to read directions and her mother needs to be aware of that. I said positive things about her as well, as she is a wonderful child, and gave specific recommendations. Amani's mother has thanked me repeatedly for being honest with her and asked me to continue with it. She has said that Amani has never shown as much growth as this year because I am completely honest with her (the mother) and don’t put up with any of Amani’s ways of manipulating her past teachers. She wants this kind of feedback. And it is not without positive remarks – there are many.
- I tried to copy Deedee's report card last time you told me to because of the smudges and there were no blank third-grade cards then. Now if I redo it, it will not have her mother’s previous signature and date of conference. Do you still want me to do it?
- I’m not sure when all of the smudges on the report cards happened, but the folder I handed you in the CIC on Wednesday ended up on the floor somehow afterward – one of the other teachers gave it back to me and I put it back on the table where you had been sitting. I'm not sure how long it was on the floor or if any teachers stepped on it.
Please realize that nothing on these report card comments is new to the parents. They get good phone calls as well as phone calls when there is a problem. They are intimately aware of all of the issues that I have raised and have not been offended by any of them. Again, I always have room to improve, and I will change some of the comments. However, I cannot compromise honesty with the parents, especially as I have received extensive positive feedback about these particular kinds of comments from the parents (especially Lamar's father and Amani's mother) when they thank me for the growth their children are making.
There are so many more important things for her to waste my time on than this.