She emailed me back a furious missive about how bad my attitude has been since he started in my class, how I never say anything positive about him, how I complain about little things like him not having a pencil, how I said he could just not worry about the work while he was out (which I did - what we were on required direct instruction and I said he could continue his independent reading and then I'd catch him up when he was back [though I did not explicitly state that I'd expect him to actually do work when he was back....maybe that was my bad]) and how I clearly just don't care about him at all because otherwise I'd be more understanding.
This kid has something serious going on, that's true. And I have told him and his family in writing that his health is the most important thing, and I believe that. But....he's playing sports. Shouldn't I be able to expect that he can also make up missing work? And do the work when he IS in class? He's in eighth grade - shouldn't I expect him to actually talk to me when he comes back to find out what he's missing, especially when I've prompted him to do so? A pencil may be small, but it's kinda the basis of any possible participation, and thus it becomes big.
I'm frustrated here. I feel like I've gone out of my way to update this woman on her son's status (since she has never contacted me for any information) and I'm under attack. I'm glad she loves her son, glad she wants what's best for him, but I'm not going to compromise my teaching standards by letting him just not do assessments. And I don't know what to do.
My plan is to go to my AP with a draft of the email I want to send back, which will say something like the following:
Dear Angry Mom:
I understand how challenging this situation has been for all of you and I apologize if I upset you in any way. The goal of my email was to keep you aware of Kid’s performance in Language Arts, since at conferences you said you wanted to know if he was missing work or not living up to expectations in class and that email was a good way to reach you. I did send home that paper when Kid was out; perhaps I was not clear enough that he would still be expected to make up missing work. Though of course his health is the most important thing and always will be, he cannot pass the class without demonstrating the expected learning, which requires making up missing assignments. As I said in my first email, I would be happy to help him understand what he’s missing and complete that classwork, but he needs to talk to me about that. I really just wanted you as his mother to be fully informed about the situation, and again, I apologize if you took it in any other way. If you would prefer that I not contact you about Kid’s classroom performance, please let Mrs. AP, the 8th grade assistant principal, know, and you and she can discuss options.
Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Teacher,
Probably still too prickly but I'm annoyed with the whole situation. Any thoughts? Feedback? Commiseration?