I teach and coach at the same high school I attended as a student, so I know many of my students’ parents. Earlier this week, I told one of my soccer players he wouldn’t be playing since he missed both practices that week. That night, I answered our door to find his dad, who immediately launched into an angry tirade about his son not playing, complaining that “we’ve known each other for years.” I was so in shock I barely knew what to say other than that I wasn’t budging on my position. I’m not surprised that he knew where I live given how small our community is, but I’m angry that he felt entitled to show up at my home simply because he didn’t get his way. Do I handle this directly with the parent? —Get Off My Lawn
My dentist lives three streets over and I wouldn’t dream of showing up on her porch and asking her to look in my mouth at a loose filling she did. (Just kidding, Dr. Corral. Your fillings are rock-solid.)
I’m not familiar with small-town life, so I’m doing some guesswork here. It sounds like this wasn’t just a friendly conversation that turned ugly. It sounds, instead, like an angry confrontation that left you shaken.
Personally I would file a police report, but admittedly I have no chill when it comes to entitled, yell-y people. As a child and teenager, I saw way too many Unhinged Soccer Dads ruin the sport, and as a teacher I’ve seen way too many parents ruin teaching for educators.
However, whether or not a police report feels appropriate to you, I do think you have an obligation to report this to your district’s athletic director. Your athletic director can decide on the appropriate response. Plus, this way you have documentation of this parent’s behavior.
And another thing: Don’t let your empathy for your soccer player dictate how you handle his father. His dad chose to confront you in your own home, so his dad is to blame for any consequences that might affect him, not you.
At the last faculty meeting, our principal announced that because our school went down a rating level, the entire faculty is now forced to submit long-form lesson plans for Every. Single. Day. We have to write in complete sentences, and “any word your students see written” has to be uploaded and attached, including book pages. The last lesson plan I wrote was eight pages long and took up two days’ worth of my planning period. How am I supposed to get this done in my contract hours? —Here’s a Learning Objective: I Quit
ChatGPT. I’m not even kidding.
Instead of analyzing the data to work with the teachers who need the most help, your principal has chosen—childishly—to dole out a group punishment. This is insulting and unprofessional.
It would be one thing if the whole school was required to do something that’s actually beneficial. Maybe your principal could have arranged for everyone to observe a similar school that’s thriving. Perhaps they could have arranged a PD session targeting specific areas of improvement. But demanding an egregious amount of additional work for teachers at a failing school is not it. That’s like a doctor ordering a patient with a broken arm to do a hundred extra reps in the weight room every day.
There is no evidence that writing longer plans results in better student learning. If your principal is going to treat you like a bunch of robots, it’s only fair to get a robot to write your lesson plans.
I love my student teacher, but ever since she added me on Instagram, I’ve been so worried. Every other post is either a thirst trap of her in revealing clothing or a photo of her taking shots with her friends. I have zero problem with what she does outside of school, but there are so many parents in our community who would call for her head if they got a screenshot of any of these. Do I warn her or mind my own business? —Paranoid Mama Bear
I wish we could all just evaluate teachers only by what happens inside their classroom. But I understand that in many parts of the country, that’s not the case. In too many places, a handful of parents and community members are spending their free time hunting teachers’ social media accounts for evidence of people they don’t agree with. 🙄
Are her settings private? Is she following your district’s guidelines for social media use? If so, I wouldn’t get into the specifics of her social media habits. As her mentor, it’s your job to evaluate her teaching and provide guidance so that she can make informed, professional decisions on her own. Though the topics below are undoubtedly covered in her teacher training program, you might also organically touch on them in your time as her mentor:
- The interview process, including what a panel or interviewer might look up online
- Teaching in our current political climate
- Best practices with social media
- Your recommendations in setting boundaries with families
Remember that this is a child of the Internet Era. She knows all about screenshots, digital footprints, and receipts. Probably more than we do, and certainly more than I do.
And who knows? Maybe she’s fully aware of the possible consequences and is ready to go to bat for teachers’ rights to normalcy outside of contract hours, in which case, I commend her.
Do you have a burning question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We got an email a few weeks ago from our PTA president explaining an upcoming “Parents’ Night Out” fundraiser idea. How do parents get the night out, you ask? Teachers were encouraged to sign up for shifts to watch kids in their classrooms at the school from 6-9 PM. Apparently not many teachers volunteered because a week later, our principal sent us a lengthy follow-up shaming our faculty for “threatening to ruin a fundraiser that ultimately benefits the school.” Are we being selfish if we stand our ground? —Not Standing for Sitting