This was a conversation I had after school today on the phone.
"Hello? I'm looking for the parent or guardian of Jenny Smith."
"Yeah, this is Epiphany inBaltimore, and I'm her English teacher, and I'm just very concerned about her attendance. She's missed both days this week, again, and her attendance continues to be a huge problem."
"Yeah, we're working on that. I got another call today. She's been sick."
"Well, she is going to fail out of school if something does not change. I have taught her class for 25 days now and she has been absent for 14 of them. And she's doing absolutely no homework and has attended zero coach classes. Frankly, I don't even know your daughter yet. She's done as close to nothing as you can do, and earned a 6% last quarter."
"Okay, well, we'll work on it."
I so wanted to lay into this parent more than I did. I was holding myself back so much that I had to bite my cheeks. If you're not getting your kid to school, screw you. What an asshole.
I much prefer this reaction I got from a parent, who I called after her daughter failed my class in the first quarter and was already missing two homeworks this quarter.
"Thanks so much for calling, Mr. E. This is her birthday weekend, and now I know that she gets no party, nothing like that... In fact, I'm cancelling Christmas for her, too."
That was one I had to share with my colleagues when I hung up. One thing about working in the city is that parents are almost all uber-supportive, sometimes uncomfortably so.
I also made it a point to call three kids who I had called earlier this year, who have markedly improved themselves. Those feel good, because immediately the parent is on edge when he/she hears your voice, then you disarm them with your pleasant news. I try to keep to a 3:1 bad:good call ratio. That should improve over time.
If I didn't have 170 kids, I would have talked to each parent more than once by now. As it is, there are still a few I haven't talked with.
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