This past weekend I visited my sister in Charleston, SC. South Carolina is towards the bottom (if not last) of the list of teacher pay. Charleston, however is where I have forever dreamt to move after I graduate and teach anywhere in the area. My sister’s roommate is a teacher at Sullivan’s Island Elementary school, a public school on the water with a brand new building- basically a heavenly place to teach. Casey (my sister’s roommate/ teacher) was happy to tell me about how much she loved her students, fellow teachers and everything about her job. When it came to the most difficult part of her job however, she did not hesitate and mentioned two things: enforcing the school’s discipline strategy and handling the parents.
My immediate reaction was, “Handling the parents??” I was confused as to how the parents could be more difficult to handle than her entire third grade classroom. Casey mentioned how she would end the school day, work for a couple of hours grading assignments and planning the next day. Just when she is about done with her day the emails from parents (and sometimes texts) start flowing in. She mentioned that sometimes she would have four emails in a row from a parent. An email that she received while I was there was
Dear Ms. Harmon,
“Tommy told me he wasn’t given enough time to finish his quiz. He is nervous about not doing well since he was not able to finish. Can you give more time for the quizzes in the future?”
The quiz Tommy’s mom was talking about was a timed quiz, where the whole idea was to see how the students performed in a certain span of time, with several students not finishing, and was essentially what Casey emailed back. An overflow of emails from parents every day, to me, sounds ridiculous. I am certain my parents never emailed my teachers as they were confident in they were the adult and knew what they were doing, while I was just the young student. If they were to email anything it would be asking how my behavior was or if I was improving on my reading skills.
The next thought that crossed my mind was “Are these parents taking advantage of Casey because she is the youngest teacher at the school?”. I find it hard to imagine parents emailing the renowned veteran. I completely understand in many cases parents should email their child’s teacher- they do spend six hours a day with them. However, the way Casey made it sound was that they were complaining if their child came home unsatisfied about something, which is quite likely for many children after a long day at school. I also have been contemplating how I will handle this when I am a teacher. For one, I don’t think I will give out my personal phone number. For teachers who are in their first couple of years of teaching, what is the best way for them to handle the wrath of unsatisfied parents?