Thursday, January 29, 2009

Me and My Big Mouth

Okay, let me set this up.

My school is a magnet school for the Gift.ed & Talent.ed Educa.tion program. Students take an IQ test in third grade that determines if they are intellectually gifted, and those that are can enter the program in fourth grade if their parents want them to. In the past, when I taught fourth grade, I would have a few students in class, who had high test scores on the state tests, retake the test. Occasionally, a couple would make it and enter the program in fifth grade. When I received notice of the ones who had made it, I would pull them aside and give them the good news. I was proud of them and excited for them. It was always a nice moment between those students and me. Who doesn't like to share good news, right?

Well, earlier this week I received notice of which of my students had qualified, and that two of them were pending based upon their upcoming state test scores. I pulled them aside when the other children were outside, and I explained what was going on and that I was very proud of them.

Well, they must have shared their good news with some of their friends, and one little girl (and her mom) took it really hard because she hadn't qualified. Her mom came in while I was at lunch (she works on campus at lunch time), and asked if it was true that her daughter hadn't qualified. I confirmed that. Then she said her daughter was devastated and that she had wanted this since she was in kindergarten. I said I was sorry that she was so upset, and gently reminded her that our kids need to learn how to deal with disappointments because they are a big part of life unfortunately. I assured her that her daughter is an excellent student (she really is), and suggested that perhaps she will qualify next year. I sincerely believe that might happen.

A few minutes later (mind you, I'm having lunch during all this), Mom comes back in and says she's taking her daughter out of school for the rest of the day and that she'll see how she is tomorrow. She is noticeably upset. She tells me that they have been very disappointed with the third grade experience, and that her daughter hasn't learned anything this year. Once again I say I'm sorry (knowing it's simply not true that she hasn't learned anything - oh, the drama!). She then goes on to say that she doesn't want another year like that next year. So, I try and tell her what to expect in fourth grade, and I tell her that I do believe her daughter will be challenged. Then I ask to speak to the student before they leave. I assured the student that she is a wonderful student, that she shouldn't let one test tell her otherwise, and that I'm very proud of her. I also told her that I wouldn't be at all surprised if she made the program in the future. Then they leave. I'm sure she'll call my principal and complain, though. So, I doubt it's over.

From this I've learned that I can never share this good news with my other students ever again because of reactions like this one. Instead they'll be informed by a form letter, and I'll bet some of the parents will still call or come by and give me a hard time about it. What a shame! I've always enjoyed sharing such good news with those students.

I am also troubled that there are some parents who are talking to their students about this program from the time they're in kindergarten. That's not right! Let kids be kids. If they are meant to be in the program, they will be! One can be a high achiever in school, but not be intellectually gifted. So what? I never qualified for a program like that, but my sister did. Guess what? We're both school teachers! That program doesn't determine one's life path. Their attitude, interests, and work ethic will.

Anyway, I wish I could have a do-over for today. I'd just keep my big mouth shut and everyone would be happy for a few more weeks until those letters go home. Oh, well...


fuzzandfuzzlet said...

This sounds like sour grapes and jealousy on the moms part. I don`t think the little girl is upset because she did not qualify, she is upset because she did not live up to moms high expectations.

Alex and Jill said...

I am so sure that little girl has been dreaming of this since she was 5 years old. That almost makes me chuckle that the mom said that.

It sounds like you handled the situation with grace. I'm hoping you will still be able to share this good news with your students means a lot for a teacher to brag on you and say they are proud of you.

Here's to a better day, tomorrow. :)


Anita said...

I think dealing with pushy parents is one of the hardest parts of being a teacher. You handled the situation really well!

Catherine said...

It's too bad that this parent took it so hard and in turn possibly passed this on to her daughter.

Hope thing swill change and that you'll be able to share the good news again in the future.

AprilMay said...

I totally would have done this as a teacher! I'm sorry one parent had to ruin it, but isn't that usually the case? (Ouch...I know...too cynical of me!) I hope your principal sides with you if than mom complains about you congratulating some students privately. See? It is as silly as it sounds when I typed it! Pu-leeze. Good luck tomorrow!

Jacquie said...

My DD goes to a school with the same programs, she is in the regular Gr 2 program.

But I did have her kindergarden teacher ask me if that was my "goal" for her, to be in the academic challenge program. I was like um no I just want her to learn.

I personally think it's nuts that our school starts this in Gr.1 but that's just my opinion.

Kayce said...

You have to wonder if the parents have been pressuring this poor child since Kinder. It's sad when parents react like that in front of their children. I hope she doesn't case you too much pain, you did nothing wrong. Like you need to learn to deal with disappointments. Life is like that sometimes.

Anne Marie said...

What is wrong with (these entitled) people? Personally, I hope you don't have to give up congratulating your students. On the few occasions I was recognized personally by a teacher, it was one of the highlights of my time in school. I still remember two particular times -- one in second grade, and one in eighth.

Anonymous said...

As a fellow teacher I sympathise. (I'm Australian so that last word is spelt correctly!!) It's hard to find that happy medium: some parents put so much pressure on their kids to achieve, achieve, achieve and can't seem to recognise that their kdis have achieved, even if it is not the top. Other parents do absolutely nothing and their kids are apathetic, disruptive and rude in the classroom. Can't we have something in the middle?
I've just resigned from my teaching position and we've pulled our kids of the system to homeschool.

Swampgirl said...

Do not beat yourself up over this! I have had the same type things happen over the years and I did learn a lot about how to handle things with my own children. The "gifted" classes mean so little in the long run! What has made the most difference in the lives of my children is learning how to learn and learning how to interact with all kinds of people- talented, artsy, gifted, slow, average, athletic, shy ...all of God's children. In other words...your class is the best place to be! Parents need to just love their children expectations, limits or conditions!

Shannon said...

Sounds like a PIP "Parent is Problem" to me. There is encouraging and there is pushing. Wonder who really wanted the program more? I think you did a nice job handling the situation.