My daughter, Captain Chaos, needs occupational and speech therapy services, both of which are provided by therapists at our local elementary school. Five days each week I take her to school. She receives 30 minutes of therapy, and then hangs out with a kindergarten class in “specials”: computer, art, music, and gym classes. She has two “specials” classes per day. They meet on alternating days. Our homeschool is her primary school. We teach the core classes. I have one foot planted firmly in each camp, a homeschool and a public school. It has proven interesting.
Near the end of last November, I received an e-mail from the Captain’s music teacher. He was busy preparing a school-wide Christmas assembly and found our daughter to be creating a disturbance in his classroom. He wrote, “[She] is having a very difficult time focusing on the work we’re doing and ends up wandering around the room which then interrupts our instruction time. I try to redirect her and it usually works for a only few minutes. If you have any questions/suggestions I would be open to hearing them.” I replied to him that it might be easiest for him if we kept our daughter out of his music class until the assembly preparations were over. She wouldn’t be participating in the assembly and definitely wouldn’t be sitting still for him in the classroom. I asked him to tell me when it would be best for her to return to his class. I did not hear back from him. I did hear from one of the Captain’s special education teachers that he received the message and thought it best that my daughter return to his classroom after Christmas break. As far as he was concerned, the situation was settled.
It wasn’t for me. I wrote to him:
“I have not heard back from you concerning our decision to temporarily remove our daughter from your classroom. Since she remained with Mrs. X during music class last Wednesday, I can only assume that our plan was acceptable to you. Effective communication can only take place when both parties participate equally. In the future, the courtesy of a reply will be appreciated.
Good luck with your Christmas program,”
The Music Man didn’t appreciate my note. He replied:
“I spoke with Mrs. X last week after receiving your email and told her that it would be best for [Captain Chaos] to return to music after the New Year had begun. Did she relay this information to you? I did not respond to your email partially for this reason. Also, please consider, that every two days I teach approximately 500 students. We have been extremely busy lately putting on programs and we are preparing for several more before the end of the year. We try to communicate effectively with all parents but sometimes it takes a little time to get back with everyone. Your patience will be appreciated in the future.”
My wife described his response perfectly. It was the “I’m too busy doing my job to do my job” response. He was so busy teaching that he was too busy to reply to a parent about that parent’s child, even after he initiated the conversation. There is something seriously wrong with public school teachers when they attempt to isolate parents from the education process. This is not the first time a teacher in this school district has done this. How patient was I supposed to be? He clearly had no intention of responding to me since he considered the matter closed once he spoke with Mrs. X! A simple one line reply would have sufficed. Am I expected to believe that he was so busy that couldn’t spend 30 seconds to reply to email?
When I was teaching, my administrators would never have allowed me to treat a parent so disrespectfully. I think this teacher’s view of education is skewed. He’s forgotten that teaching other people’s children is a privilege. Unfortunately, too many educators believe that compulsory education places them in the driver’s seat. Music Man may have this view. As long as one of my children attends that school, I will remind them otherwise.