September 9, 2009

scary parent #1

Yesterday when one of my students forgot her lunch, I allowed her to use my classroom phone to call her mother. This seems to be routine, and I have had other students call and have lunches dropped off for them. Imagine my surprise when I listened to my voicemail later and heard an incredibly fierce message from her mother. The following topics were addressed:
  1. The fact that the lunch had already been delivered to the office
  2. The incomprehensibility (word?) that this child was allowed access to a phone
  3. The inappropriateness that I would "go through the emergency contact list" without "digging a little deeper" to find out if the lunch was there
  4. (x 1000) The fact that she meets the needs of her daughter and did not need a phone call to be reminded to bring a lunch

I was seriously floored. After taking the afternoon to think the voicemail over and running the conversation past a couple colleagues and my mentor, I was assured that I did nothing wrong, and that her crazy rage had nothing to do with me. Praying desparately to hear an answering machine on the other line, I called the family after school. Thankfully, I was able to avoid talking with scary mom and left a voicemail explaining and apologizing for any miscommunication, assuring her that I trust her daughter is in good hands. Hopefully, I've heard the last about this incident.

This morning, though, two different staff members let me know that there is so much more to this situation than a parent attacking a first year teacher. Apparrently this parent was investigated by DCFS last year. How could I be so self-absorbed to think that this was about me? It's easy to forget that I'm teaching in a very different school than I have before. This reminded me that not only do I have to be careful of what I say and do in the classroom, but I have to (HAVE TO) remember that these students have so much history before ever entering room 202. I hope I never again get so hung up worrying what people think and assume about me that I forget to remember that many of my students have more going on at home and in their lives than I could ever imagine.

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