Yesterday I checked my email early in the morning and discovered an email from a parent who asked me to reconsider only giving her son half credit for a late quiz he had made up the previous day. The email initially angered me, and I spewed, “You have to be kidding me,” as I sat in my empty classroom at 6:30.
I calmed down and reread the email where the parent expressed her concern that her son’s grade was so low because he was juggling so many extra-curricular activities and had a valid reason for not taking the test a few days before as he should have.
Years ago when communication with parents was limited to telephone conversations, teachers were often blindsided with such requests and forced to respond immediately. Oh, how I hated those phone calls where parents expressed anger or concern or fears about their child’s grade. I often felt trapped.
E-mail is so much easier because we have time to calm down and think about what we need or want to say.
I counted to ten yesterday morning and then started my e-mail:
Dear Mrs. “Jones,”
Do you realize that “Sonny” took the quiz three WEEKS late? Do you realize that even with all of the extra time to study, he still failed the quiz before I deducted points for his tardiness?”
A very concerned and frustrated parent responded several hours later and told me that she had no idea that her son had been that tardy nor did she know that he had failed it. The email ended with her expressing how upset she was with her son and how she and her husband would deal with Sonny that night. This morning I received a follow-up email to ask me to notify her if I didn’t see an improvement.
I definitely saw an improvement today!
After a zillion years in the classroom, I’ve learned to count to ten and calm down when parents intervene and jump to their children’s defense. Sometimes they don’t know the whole story. Once they learn everything they need to know, most parents are supportive of teachers. While some parents want extra privileges for their children, those parents are rare. Instead, they want what’s best for their children – the same thing that I want.