I never asked to switch grade levels. Actually it was no secret here or in my real life that I did not want to go to a younger grade level. There are still a lot of things I miss about working in an older grade. The best thing for me, though, about the switch is that I have gotten to learn from two really experienced third grade teachers. They've become two really good friends as well, but I know that for my career which is just starting (I totally cringe when I say that) I've been so fortunate to learn from people who are well into their careers and really good. For the rest of my career, I will be better because I have worked with them.
Anyway, I say all this because I was listening to my next door neighbor handle a parent meeting today, and she is just so much better than me at handling that. Really, I need to learn from her how to handle parents. I won't let kids walk all over me and I know how to work with my colleagues, but I get nervous and don't do well with difficult parents.
Partially, I get intimidated because I am almost always the young one in the room. Partially, though, I just don't know how to handle it well when parents are being manipulative or dishonest or unreasonable, and the reality is that those things happen.
My superstar neighbor had this parent trying to blame her because the child was behind. Now, a little background information, is that this woman hadn't returned superstar teacher's phone calls, progress reports, refused to attend conferences, and doesn't answer e-mails. So, superstar teacher called her on the carpet. She didn't sweat it at all before the meeting and she was professional without being manipulated or allowing a parent to treat her rudely.
I know that I have it in me to be more like that, but it's been difficult. Listening to her was the first time I realized how it should look when I am dealing with an adult being dishonest or manipulative.
Unreasonable parents just can't always have their way. This year I've been having to e-mail the Hulk's parents his behavior chart because they feel that his self-esteem will be ruined if he monitors his own behavior. I know that this plan is terrible and that it would be better for the Hulk and my class if he were accountable for his own actions. Instead, I am constantly hearing complaints of "unfair treatment" from the Hulk's parents.
You know, my superstar neighbor would not have let this situation get to this point. I really need to learn to preempt things like this better. I know what to do, but I just sometimes don't do it when it comes to the parents.