When I taught in the great state of Texas, a mom walked into my class while I was teaching and called me a not so kind name because her daughter failed my class and couldn’t show her pig in the state fair. I cannot make this stuff up! After I retire, I plan on releasing my book You Don’t Know Crazy Until You Go to a Parent Conference, but most of those stories are to be told decades from now when I won’t be able to remember the kid or parent’s name.
I was reminded of this story while I was having breakfast with a young teacher a couple of weeks ago. (For the friend who I had breakfast with last weekend and asked me not to put them in my blog – don’t worry – I’m not talking about you . . . yet). This young teacher detailed how a parent had made her year so difficult that she was wondering if teaching was even for her. Hearing this made me sad then mad then glad that this teacher had sought out someone older (and sassier) to find out how to deal with parents.
And it goes both ways; there are a few crazy teachers out there. I remember a long-term sub who gave my son a zero on a major exam that he scored a 96% because he forgot to put his name on the paper. I understand the importance of putting a name on a paper, but for this first offense for my son, I felt like she could have shown a little grace.
The bottom line is there are crazy parents, crazy teachers, and crazy students, and now it’s almost May. Conflicts tend to escalate this time of year because parents and teachers are tired. So how can we hold it together for the next month?
Determine if any truth can be gleaned from what the other person is saying.
There are usually two sides to a story even if one side is very, very small. I try really hard to take Atticus’ advice and put myself in the parent’s shoes – especially if they’re expensive shoes because teachers can’t afford expensive shoes. I can often see how something I said could be misinterpreted or maybe I didn’t say enough (but this is rarely the case for me).
Share your feelings with the other person honestly but kindly.
What are we teaching our students if we can’t have a conversation without raising our voices or pointing fingers?
Take the high road.
I had to explain what this meant to my 2nd block today. Sadly, some of them still think the low road is the way to go, and I admit the low road may be the most fulfilling in the moment. The high road, however, is a place to grow in character and discipline.
Take care of yourself.
Lack of sleep coupled with a diet of junk food makes stress even more amplified. We cannot push ourselves daily and expect to not feel it in our bodies. Plus our kids need to see us modeling rest, healthy eating, and exercise because they are certainly not seeing these things among their peers.
So why does May have to be the month that we live in stress and exhaustion? Let’s make May a month of celebration, ending strong, and showing pigs in the state fair.