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I know my job!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by princesslegend, Jul 16, 2019.

  1. princesslegend

    princesslegend Occasional commenter

    Sorry I think this is more of a rant than anything. I teach a very low ability group who will be sitting GCSEs next year.
    I have been teaching for 10 years (9? 11? who knows! it's been AGES!)
    I have marked externally for 7 years.
    I think it's fair to say - i know my subject.

    I have one boy recently moved down to my class whose parents refuse to accept that he belongs in this low ability set. I feel undermined at every turn.
    "Can he move up?" No.
    "What can he do to improve?" Everything i've told him.

    Now they want to see my marking and TBH, I've had an absolute gutsful.
    I appreciate they want the best for their son - I do too. But I am sick of being made to feel like I don't know how to do my job. He is low ability in my subject. There is nothing more I can do for him. I'm so fed up.

  2. CheeseMongler

    CheeseMongler Lead commenter

    I feel for you. I find pushy parents to be the hardest to deal with and it's completely impossible without support of others. They will need to hear the same message from someone else, maybe two or three others, before they will accept that maybe their son isn't as good as they think.

    The other option depends on the student (so consider how this may affect them first) but if they are a typical teenager, you metaphorically give them enough rope to hang themselves. Give them so much "support" through worksheets, research tasks, exam papers etc. that you know they will not complete it. Then you've got "ammunition" for any future meetings. {I've just realised how incredibly similar this is to the capability process some schools use... :oops::(}

    Obviously there's always the third option of forgetting about it until next year and hope they move class!
    JohnJCazorla and jlishman2158 like this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Why are very low ability even doing GCSE?

    Oh, well. I'd just give them sight of all his work. They could come in or I'd photocopy it.
    jlishman2158 and pepper5 like this.
  4. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Seeing your marking, which presumably tells him what he needs to do to improve, is not so unreasonable. Maybe theyre going to get him a private tutor over the summer, and it will speed things up if the tutor can see quickly what needs improving. Send his book home, or run the contents of his folder through a photocopier, leave them to it. If there's been lots of verbal feedback, add a note on the top saying something along the lines of "where it looks like there's not much feedback, that's because we went over the work in class", so they don't complain about that.

    It is hard for some parents to accept that it's their child's work at fault, not the teacher, but at the point at which they realise he needs to do something, you need them to be able to see how to help.

    I realise that these parents may be framing their request in a "so we can see you're good enough" manner, but respond along the lines of "I'm so glad you're keen to look at his work with him and help him act on my feedback", and don't take it personally!

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Are the parents actually saying they will help their child, or are they saying that you aren’t doing enough?

    If it’s the former, then I’d be tempted to make use of it. Give them a textbook, get them to mindmap it then get them to do exam questions with their child. Either the kid will improve (and you can take credit for setting the process up) or the kid won’t, but you have been mega helpful.

    If it’s the latter - I kind of think that this is time for a HoD to have a conversation with the parents and support you.
  6. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    You are in a difficult position since you are working with parents who want the best for their child but can't accept their child is working at present at "low ability" and you have done or are doing everything within your power to assist their child.

    Perhaps they want to see the marking to get a tutor as someone suggested above.

    There are many parents who make the sacrifice to get private tuition and perhaps that is a decision that they can make in time if they think the investment is worth it. If they do, it is of course no reflection on your teaching ability.

    Well done to you for your dedication to your job - you can't solve every problem nor should you have to and if the parents can help as suggested above, or a private tutor then the load is shared.
    JohnJCazorla, jlishman2158 and Curae like this.
  7. princesslegend

    princesslegend Occasional commenter

    Thanks all. The parents are coming in for a chat... on Friday.
    After school. Groan.
    I want to find out if they're getting a tutor and if they are, I'm going to offer to help in any way I can.
    I feel like I have to justify everything, down to my differentiation. Which I don't. Because I know what I'm doing.

    I have the full backing of my HoD and other HoDs whose teachers are also under fire from the same parents. I'm sure I'm overreacting but... argh. Sorry. Needed to vent.

    Thanks again for your kind words.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You do not need to justify yourself to anyone except yourself! Unless you're not a very good teacher. But not very good teachers never know it anyway and won't be told!

    So stop worrying. Let the parents worry. That's their job. Yours is to plan, prepare and assess.

    It's nearly holiday time!
    jlishman2158, pepper5 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Hmm. Struggling across the board in year 10 and suddenly parents panic. Either reports further down the school have not given enough warning that he is not heading for the greatest of GCSE grades, or parents have only just started taking it seriously, because it's late now to be tackling intensive catch-up in multiple subjects. Still, better now than January.
  10. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    It may be similar to a capability process but the proof of the pudding is the GCSE grade which is objective. All too often capability is subjective
  11. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Start the conversation along the lines that you want to work together with the parents.

    Then give them a load of work that they can do over the next few months/over the summer hols that can be marked by them, so that they can "support" home him as part of a "team" effort.

    You probably never here from the work again.
    pepper5, jlishman2158 and frustum like this.
  12. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Make scans or copies of any marking in his book. I have know parents/students who try and alter marking to make it look like you are marking wrongly or saying things wrong. I know of certain types of pens that can be erased and so that the work can be changed are very popular with such types. Just to cover yourself.
    I do wonder what this statement means as presumeably they have been able to see his marked book/homework all year have they not? Or at least before now at the end of a term.

    How is this being manifested?

    Get a test that he has done and give the parents a copy of the syllabus and the test with the students answers.

    Explain that the child has to learn certain things which his work shows that he does not.
    You cannot learn them for him.

    I would start recording ,in writing, what they say. Exactly what they say. jsut get a notebook or planener out, take out a pen with a flourish and start writing before they even speak. Write the time, "meeting with irritating parents who wait until the year has nearly ended to come in". Listen carefully and as soon as they start to question your judgement/teaching ability etc tell them to stop.
    Once this boundary is transgressed you need to refer them to the HoD or higher up.

    I suspect that the parents are being difficult. Be polite and let them dig.
    If you need to show a rictus smile and cold "Jeremy Hunt" style pyscho stare.

    Parents sometimes have difficulty accepting that their little darling is quite the dullard.

    in your shoes I would access the students reports across all his subjects as parents sometimes resort to that old chestnut "he is doing well in all of his other subjects". Collar the tutor as well, ask how many subjects are reporting academic problems througout the year that may be included on his reports.

    There was once a time when many parents would accept that you have degree in the subject and knew better. Sadly this has been superceded by the US imported cult of

    I'll leave you with the words of the late greta Issac Asimov:

    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

    Isaac Asimov, Column in Newsweek (21 January 1980)
    JohnJCazorla likes this.

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