Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lesson Lost

Monday, as second period was coming in to class, I got paged down to the office.  I got class started and then sent an I/M off to let them know that I had a class and couldn’t just walk out to see why I was needed.  An I/M came back informing me that a parent and several students were there and wanted to talk to me.  I sent back that my prep period started at 10:50 and that I would be happy to meet with them at that time.
At 10:30 another I/M box popped up on the computer letting me know that they were back and could I come to the office as soon as class was over.  Sure, no problem.
It was a student of mine, his mother, his cranky older sister and three or four younger siblings.  Cranky teen sister did most of the talking and wanted to know what I had done with the iPod I had taken from her brother in class several weeks ago.  I explained that I had brought it to the office and left it with a secretary, as was not only school, but also district, policy.  They went on to complain that he had just bought it, paid $200 for it and that they wanted to know where it was.  Again, I explained that I had turned it into the office, that there was paperwork logging it in there and that I had checked on it when first asked about it a couple weeks ago.  They insisted that it had never made it to the office and implied that I was lying and expected to replace it.  “Ah, that’s not going to happen, I did what I was supposed to.”  I told them.  This had been going on for over ten minutes and I was getting a little frustrated thinking about all the work I should have been doing rather than arguing with cranky older sister.  Finally I told them that as soon as the principal was free, we would go into her office and she could see the paperwork that showed I had fulfilled my responsibility.
We went in, the principal showed them the paperwork, and they still weren’t happy.  After another five or ten minutes of  arguing, the principal finally told them “Mr. Rossi did what he was supposed to, this has nothing more to do with him.” and then let me leave and get back to what I should have been doing.  The lesson lost:  Instead of pointing out to the student that maybe he shouldn’t be playing with his electronics in class (which, according to the paperwork, had been taken away in another class just 5 days earlier), maybe if he had been paying attention and trying a little he wouldn’t have flunked my class for the last two years.  Not to mention the fact that she pulled all her kids out of school for the day to traipse around complaining about something that, again by district policy, isn’t even supposed to be at school. 
I talked to the principal later and she told me that she heard cranky older sister tell my student “Don’t ever give any electronics to Mr. Rossi or the principal again, they’ll probably just steal it and you won’t get it back.”  Fine by me, the vice-principal agreed that if this student is caught with anything again, instead of trying to confiscate it, I’m just going to bring him down to the vice-principal’s office.  Problem solved.
I don’t know if it’s over yet, they have threatened to take it to the district.  But I’m not going to worry, I did what I was supposed to, the paperwork is there to prove that and the principal, vice-principal and school cop all have seen it.
Thank you for listening.  I feel much better now.


Karen S. said...

It amazes me how totally crazy some people get when finally someone takes away something that they had been warned would happen...as if they are in the clear, and now you're the bad guy.....hmmmm sounds oh so familiar! Good luck Max on this one!

The Gearheads said...

I thought you didn't work at Churchill anymore. Oh, that's right, if it were Churchill they would have threatened lawsuit

A Paperback Writer said...

This is why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my current principal. She handles this kind of thing SO well. You never would've been contacted over this if it'd happened where I teach. She would've made sure immediately that these folks knew they were in the wrong and you were in the right.
Sorry about what happened to you. I hate it when administration folks and secretaries don't do their parts of the job right. Your job is teaching. They keep track of the phones and other items. Period.
In fact, it should be the secretaries who fill out the paperwork on this stuff; at my school they do.

A Paperback Writer said...

When I took time today to thank my own principal and the secretaries for how they handle these things, my principal just rolled her eyes and said, "Yes, but you KNOW who that secretary is, don't you?" Then it all made sense as to why things are not being handled well at your school.
Secretary KC says "Hi!" by the way, and she's sorry this happened to you, "but if he'd just stayed here......" :) She misses you. :)

Max said...

Tell KC I said hi, and asked how many more piles of papers she's thrown in the air lately :)
The (other) secretary actually does the logging in and out of these devices, which is what kept it from getting really ugly for me, since there is documentation that I did do what I was supposed to. As for "that" secretary, she has actually been really nice to me this year, although just today one of the long-term teachers referred to her as "my other boss" right in front of her, mainly because it is true (at least in her mind). But if you want to really hear about fun, wait until I get around to my post about the lunch ladies. Does the term "Soup Nazi" mean anything to anyone?
But as much as I do miss your school and especially the people htere, I have to say that I do not regret the experiences I have had since moving on.

A Paperback Writer said...

Soup Nazi.
I can't wait. ;)
Oh, and KC said you'd mention the paper throwing incident. ;) I'll tell her she was SO right. :)

Alexia said...

These incidents are so horrible and upsetting - and universal, it seems! Clearly you handled it perfectly properly; people like these are always blaming others for their deficiencies. The mere fact that her first thought was that you would "steal" it shows us exactly how their thoughts trend...
Sounds like the system works well, although I don't understand how they were able to insist on seeing you. Did the office person not ask the reason for their request...?

Max said...

Alexia - I doubt very much that they were asked what they needed to talk to me about. The other problem was that nobody checked my schedule and informed said parent that I had a class at the time and that I could not be interrupted. At my last school I was also the computer tech person, and the principal made it perfectly clear that no matter how bad the issue was I was not to be interrupted when I had a class. Period. Parents need to understand that, and office personnel need to not be calling teachers down to the office when they have a class.

Jannx said...

Hello Max. It has been a while. One, I do know the value of venting, so by all means, vent until your heart is content.

As for what happened to you, I could soooo one up you(with several instances), but instead, I'll just say, I'm glad everything seems to have worked out. And, know that you are far, far from being alone.

Max said...

Jannx - That's something that all teachers share, horrible parent stories. Occupational hazard.