Friday, January 9, 2009

A Letter I Wish I Could Send

Since my post the other day, I have tried all possible avenues to open communication with the parent who so snidely announced that she "wasn't so sure" I was trying to help her daughter. Her daughter, as I described in my last post, displays many disruptive attention seeking behaviors. After speaking with my principal, who agreed that this problem is not going to just "go away," I sent an email, requesting a meeting to discuss her concerns and develop some mutual goals for her daughter. Here is my email along with her response:

Dear Mrs. Z,
I am writing to offer you the opportunity to discuss any concerns you
have regarding ****. I think it's best for us to communicate so that
we are on the same page about our mutual expectations for how to best
support****. Here are 2 options that work with my principal's schedule
as well as mine. Please let me know if either time works and if you would like to meet.
Thank you,
Mrs. Y***

I was quite flabbergasted to get this response less than 30 minutes later:
Dear Mrs. Y,
Thanks for the email.....January is a crazy month for me at work so
neither date works. I don't have any real concerns regarding ****. I
think she is doing great.
Mrs. Z

Of course, I was quite surprised that someone who had so viciously spoken to me just 24 hours earlier, suddenly had no concerns for her child's well-being in my class. I decided to draft this letter in the event that I would eventually have the courage to send it. Who knows if I will.

Dear Mrs. Z,

I wonder if you lose sleep at night the way I do. It may seem odd that I should care so much about the lives of the 20 precious little beings in my class, but the fact is: I do. I care enough to redirect your child when she is being disruptive. I care even more to praise and acknowledge her when she makes a positive choice. Perhaps you don't realize that I care enough to continue to reflect and strive to improve my teaching and connect and make a difference with all kids. I am completely flabbergasted by your request that I "don't focus so much" on your daughter, particularly when my "focusing" was to send an encouraging note home to reinforce her positive behavior.
Ever since that day, just a couple days ago, being with your daughter in my classroom has been a rollercoaster ride. When I talked with all of the students about saying to others meanly, "I'm not going to be your friend," and told them that I intended to send a letter home to parents about this problem in our class, she yelled across the room, "MY MOM DOESN'T WANT ANY NOTES FROM YOU!" In your inappropriate and rude communication to me you have undermined any power that our partnership could have in helping your child.
Your daughter comes to school screaming for attention. She rolls around on the floor, pokes her neighbors with pencils, hangs off her chair, yells across the room, shouts out when I acknowledge another student, and walks up to children on the playground and says to them, "I am not going to play with you." I find it quite amazing that you think she is " doing great."
I am hoping that you have some sort of wake up call so that you can be accessible and open to working with me to help your daughter. I am a teacher, first and foremost, but I am also a very concerned individual who recognizes that behavior is a communication of a child's needs.
Perhaps someday I will have the opportunity and the courage to be this direct with you. For now I am bound by the ridiculous conventions of an educational system that allow you to talk rudely to me but I cannot be honest with you.
I wish you all the luck in the world as you navigate through the next 12 school years with your child. I hope the ride gets easier than the one this week.
Mrs. Y.

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