Year: 1998-1999
Month: October
Leader: Group C

Situation/Case Study:
PARENT/TEACHER ISSUE

Description:
A middle school student acts inappropriately in a science lab. His behavior nearly causes a fire with a burner. The teacher tries to reach the boy's mother at home but is told she is at work. The teacher calls work but is told she is at home. So the teacher leaves a message at work to have the mother call the boy's teacher. When the mother returns the call, she is angry because her co-workers have knowledge that her son's teacher has called. When the teacher explains the dangerous incident, the mother does not respond very strongly. The teacher feels confronted by the mother. In the course of the conversation, the teacher says, "What the hell do you want me to do?" The mother calls the principal the next day to complain about the teacher 's handling of the incident including the use of the word "hell." The principal talks to the teacher about her behavior but says nothing about the science lab incident. The teacher is worried that the entire reason for the confrontation has been lost and that she has become the sole focus of concern.

Hypotheses:
A teacher in this situation might feel... 1.vulnerable and uncertain of how the principal feels toward her. She would also feel like there is unfinished business or issues that will get in the way of future interactions with the student or the principal. 2. vulnerable. She had an emotionally draining confrontation with a student. She was attacked by the parent when she tried to call and further attacked by the principal instead of supported. She now is anxious about further association with both the parent and the principal. 3. frustrated at many levels from the lack of support from both the parent and the administration. 4. frustrated with the parent for not seeing the "big picture" and betrayed by administration because she wasn't supported in her actions but belittled for one comment. 5. betrayed and unsupported by the principal because s/he focused on the one unprofessional thing she did and didn't help with the student behavior issue or the irate parent issue. She would also feel frustrated and angry with the student for not following rules and lying to her about the parent's whereabouts. She would feel afraid of the parent that she is now looking for things against her... Teacher wants to apologize but is not sure if she should. 6. frustrated and unsupported by the administration. The student is the focus of this incident not the teacher. 7. betrayed because they sense that they are not being backed and supported by their administration in a potentially hazardous issue. 8.frustrated because the focus of the entire event has shifted from where it should be (the student's behavior) to something unrelated (the teacher's use of an inappropriate word.) 9. betrayed by administration, frustrated with the system, concerned about her superior's perception of her. 10.scared, vulnerable to attack, especially as a non-tenured teacher. 11. unsupported, unsure about how to go forward because both the principal and the parent focused on her performance rather than the student's.

Theories behind practice:
Parent/teacher communication. Responsibility of teacher to maintain a safe environment. Teacher professionalism.

Impact on others:
Their teacher is very concerned about their safety.

Solutions:
1.The teacher will call the parent with a follow-up plan for the child's subsequent experiences in science lab. 2.The teacher will document all aspects of the incident. 3. The teacher and the student will create a re-entry plan for the student.

Comments:
This new teacher was very anxious to receive the advice of the group. She was very nervous about how her principal would view her as a result of this encounter. She also didn't know how to bring the event to closure. The group was extremely sensitive and supportive. This was an especially interesting episode to discuss because there was some fault on everyone's part-- the teacher's, the student's, the parent's, and the principal's. The experienced teachers were most helpful because several of them knew the teacher's principal and could advise her about how to proceed with him.