Before becoming a teacher, I worked in customer service and hospitality. I was a hostess and server in multiple restaurants–Black Angus, Red Lobster, Mimi’s Cafe, to name a few. In each restaurant, the common theme was that customers were always right.
Working as an educator is very similar to working in a restaurant because parents are always supposed to be right. For example, on Thursday, I called one of my students’ parents because he has been falling asleep in class since last semester. I’ve spoken to his dad about it last semester and he admitted that the student stays up until the wee hours of the night playing video games and watching tv, but he would be more vigilant in eliminating these habits. On Thursday, I had the pleasure of speaking to the mother. Instead of being proactive about a solution, she pointed the finger at me, saying that she “understood his shortcomings,” but it needed to be up to me to be more flexible about accepting late work and making sure students aren’t teasing him about him falling asleep.
This was the first time ever hearing about this and I told her. She responded, “Well, he told me that it’s been going on since Wednesday.” I informed her that I was out on Wednesday and they also had a substitute on Thursday (I was on campus, grading), but I would address it upon my return. That answer still didn’t satisfy her, as she continued to get upset because I don’t accept late work after the week deadline that was already in place because the student didn’t understand the directions. I calmly explained to her that if the student falls asleep during the instructions, he would not understand how to do it at home. Again, she blamed me for not repeating them. I explained that I typically explain instructions four times: verbal directions, modelling, correction of any misconceptions, and another simplified set of verbal directions. She reverted back to the late work excuse.
Anyway, I invited her to come in to observe and get the directions for herself so she can better help him at home. Instead of just accepting the invitation, she added, “I’ll be in there next week to also see how the class is being ran.” I responded, enthusiastically, “Awesome! I look forward to seeing you next week. Thank you so much!”
At what point in society did it become a parents job to educate the teacher? While I’m not a perfect teacher, I didn’t understand why this parent felt the need to be dismissive of anything I had to say. If her main concern was the teasing, why didn’t she call to address it? Had I not called her, would she have taken the initiative to schedule a parent conference with me? That conversation ended with more questions than answers. She never fully addressed his sleeping patterns, outside of calling them “shortcomings.” She never explained why she knew that he had these shortcomings, but was not attempting to fix them. She never told me where I was supposed to get this extra time to allow for more grading of late work. She never explained how she would assess whether my class was being ran up to standards when she visited. Of course, I’d be out of line to address these concerns of mine, right?
One thing I’m really working on is saying the right thing at the right time. At that time, I felt it was best to not say anything at all, especially if I wanted to keep my job. For real, though, why is it okay for a parent to question my ability as a teacher when I call home to address a concern?
Oh yeah, parents, like customers, are always right.
**I have more to say on this topic, and how it relates to lawmakers (*cough* DeVos *cough*), but that’s another blog post for another time… Coming soon, though.**
What are your thoughts on this?