Parent-teacher communication and the involvement of mom and dad is a critical part of any classroom discipline plan, as outlined on the pages about investigating causes and escalation/involving parents ...whether they want to be involved or not. This page is about those parents who fall into the "not" category, or at least fall into the "I'd rather not" one. Unfortunately, many of the tough case kids come with parents in this category.
I do understand the situation: They are in the vicious cycle of poor child behavior...leads to...parent doesn't know what to do...leads to...poorer child behavior...leads to...parent checks out.
You spend, at most, 20 or so hours per week in the classroom with a particular child (after deducting recess, music, etc.) This same child spends the remaining 148 hours somewhere else, doing something else with someone else.
Some of those other influences are neutral, but in a difficult family situation, many are decidedly not neutral. It is very easy to see how your classroom discipline plan at school can be undone at home.
What you need at home is an influence that, at a minimum, does not undo the progress made at school, which is where parent-teacher relationships come in.
The number-one influence in a child's life
Now, let's get a few things straight. I am not advocating that government (in the form of school systems) take over the raising of children. I'm not even advocating that the school always knows what is best for kids. And if you are the type of parent who is reading this website, or, for that matter, any website on school improvement or even being a better parent, then I am decidedly not referring to you.
But I'm also a realist; the parents of the kids on my case study page were not living up to even a small portion of what society expects from those who decide to have children. And they needed to step up and be part of the solution, which might include:
When dealing with kids who are tough classroom behavior management cases, we start by minimizing any roadblocks to parental involvement. We build parent-teacher relationships, practicing all the elements outlined on the escalation/involving parents page
But with tough cases and parents who are really not engaging, sometimes you have to step it up notch and move to the next phase.
The classic case where this comes into play is the child who constantly gets into trouble (often of the outright defiance type ) and the parent simply says:
"I can't control him at home either, so whatever."
All we are looking for is some kind of reinforcement at home of the consequences we are meting out at school as part of our classroom discipline plan. And for this to occur, often the parent must be in the same boat as the kid, meaning when the student is in trouble, it impacts the parent's life.
This is not my first choice as a means of parent-teacher communication, but somehow a message must be sent.
TIP: This can only be undertaken with the involvement of your principal, and should be tied to a classroom behavior plan of which the parent is fully aware.
Here's how it looks in practice:
If X happens, then Tim goes to the office and Tim's mom/dad has to come pick him up...regardless of time of day or job commitments.
If mom or dad can't come, then they are informed that Tim will not be going back to class until they come in for a conference, so they need to arrange for that first thing the next morning.
Believe it or not, there are parents who will even screen calls during the day. If the school shows up on caller ID, they won't answer. I talk more about this on the outright defiance page. Parent-teacher communication is difficult if one of the parties is actively discouraging it!
One might think that the ultimate parent inconvenience is suspending a child, but that assumes that the parent has a problem with leaving the child alone all day, which may or may not be the case. Suspension is certainly called for in certain circumstances, but for the sake of your classroom discipline plan, don't assume that it is terribly inconvenient for the parent.
On the other hand, if your building has a detention room where misbehaving students must stay after school, then this can be a large inconvenience as parents must make a trip to the school to pick up their child rather than relying on the bus. This also provides an opportunity for conversations with the parents.
Forced parent-teacher communication, but anything is better than nothing!
I'm not going to belabor the points I've made. It just breaks my heart that there are kids out there whose teachers care more about their success than their parents. It shouldn't be that way. Parents should be knocking down your door to help when their kids are causing classroom discipline issues at school, and most do.
But some don't, and a dedicated teacher must be ready to implement parent-teacher communication in that situation as well.
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