Friday, December 4, 2009


I have had the kind of day that will end with a big bowl of chocolate ice cream.

It all started yesterday, when I got a phone call from a family member. I don't want to go into details, but basically things are pretty rough right now, this person is far away, and I can't help, despite a desperate and overwhelming desire to run to them right now. I ended the day in tears, knowing that I would probably wake up with a migraine.

Which I did. Fortunately, it was a late-start Friday, so I didn't have to be in class until 8:50, so I texted my friend to tell her I'd be late, took some migraine medication, and went back to bed for an hour. It helped enough that I was able to get up an hour later and go to school without throwing up or being photosensitive. On the downside, it meant that I missed the teacher appreciation breakfast, where apparently very nice things were said about me by one of my favorite students.

Then I got to my classroom, opened my email, and got a snarky email from a helicopter parent. I have never really dealt with helicopter parents too much, since I don't teach AP classes and teach in a poor district where parent involvement is fairly minimal. This particular parent and I have exchanged very cordial emails throughout the year and earlier this week, she emailed me with a list of his missing assignments and asked what he needed to do to make them up. I emailed her back that day with a list of his work and the following paragraph:

"Anything else Mr. Z is welcome to make up whenever he chooses. He has access to the assignments at school whenever he wants them and is welcome to take his notebook home to work on them if he chooses."

Her response was "I don't appreciate your writing as this is the problem - If Mr. Z made smart choices on his own why would I be following up on this as his parent - He obviously needs more help and therefore promping me to work with you and him." Also in her response she gave a point by point excuse from her son for each missing assignment and a request that I give him all the notes he hadn't made up from being absent more than three weeks back.

I didn't know what to do or how to respond. I want her son to do the work but I didn't know how to respond without further enraging her, so I went to my department head and then my supervising principal. My principal told me that I had nothing to apologize for, and wrote out a response for me to send, which I did, concluding my email to the parent with the suggestion that she, her son and I sit down with the principal to figure out a solution.

Her son showed up immediately after school and did every missing assignment.

The day ended, as all Fridays should (!!!!!), with a mandatory meeting requested by the superintendent of the district. There was no clue given as to the reason, or whether it was good or bad for us. We showed up with trepidation, only to learn that a large, local corporation has chosen our school as the recepient of the "Excellence in Education" award, which comes with a $25,ooo check to use as we please.

The immediate faculty response? A second copy machine.


carla said...

Been thinking of your family today. Hope everything turns out for the best.

Lisa E said...

Oh, sweetie! Do you need more ice cream? I'm not above going to Safeway, grabbing a pint of Haagan Daz and wandering around your building calling your name...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Ah, helicopter parents. We should live in a time where parents let their kids learn from their mistakes and take some natural consequences... Ooops. That was 30 years ago.

I had a migraine last week too, migraines are aweful. Glad you are feeling better.

Melissa B. said...

Definitely a candidate for the Ben & Jerry's Stressbusters Diet. Jeesh!

Urban School Teacher said...

Classic opening sentence.