Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Today's challenge

this was not the day for my headache to go away. This morning, I got one of those calls from my daughter's school. Normally, when the phone rings from that number, it's the womanchild. Sometimes it's simple. Sometimes, it means she wants me as her bigger ally in a struggle. Today, it was the principal who called.

Yesterday afternoon, the womanchild was going to attend her school's drama group's rehearsal. Several of her closest friends have parts in the play, and her plans were to hang out with one of the girls afterwards. She anticipated rehearsal lasting about an hour. Instead, it went on for four. Drama was the highlight of her year last year. She loved it and became very involved in set design and staging and performed a couple of extra roles in the production. The sets she helped create won a national award for high school theater groups and have been used in other productions, including small professional groups, of the same play. She started out this year involved in drama but had a falling out with the teacher who leads the group.

Last year, she had had problems with the same teacher. It got to the point where the teacher received a formal written reprimand because she grabbed my daughter by the arms and shook her while yelling at her. I'm the first to admit that my womanchild can be a handful, but that is totally unacceptable. However, C. still wanted to be involved in theater this year because she loves the work involved. After having been yelled at one too many times in front of the entire cast and crew, my daughter quit this year's production. She did not do so gracefully and said some remarks to the teacher that were totally disrespectful at best. Since then, she has made efforts to avoid this teacher as much as possible.

Yesterday though contact was unavoidable. With the medication induced fog in my brain, this is the way I understand what happened. C.'s friends wanted her to get involved again with this year's production and she, they and the teacher/director discussed this. The only way that C. would be allowed to work in the play was if she were to offer the teacher a public apology in front of the cast and crew. The womanchild declined. She just wasn't that interested in coming back to drama, especially if it meant eating crow she didn't think she deserved.

Later, the teacher approached C. in the hallway and told her that she would have to leave, that she couldn't stay for the rest of the rehearsal, and according to the womanchild that the teacher couldn't deal with her now. The daughter refused, saying she didn't have a ride without her friend and couldn't leave. Since I spent yesterday heavily under the influence of medication, she was completely accurate and truthful. (For my part, if I had known she would need a ride, I wouldn't have taken the medication.) The teacher told her she had to leave. The teacher then told her that she was in "big trouble now." Another teacher separately told C. to stay backstage and out of the other teacher's way. She tried to do that, but the teacher initiated another confrontation, and this one escalated to the point where my womanchild told her,"It's not my fault you're a diabetic, bi-polar bitch."

Totally unacceptable. There's no way a reasonable parent would support their child talking to a teacher in this way. I just have two things to say her defense. The diabetes is documented, and the teacher references her blood sugar in both class and extracurricular activities on a regular basis. Living in a small town, I also know that bi-polar has been used to describe this person before, but I have no way of knowing if this is also a diagnosis or just opinion. Was my child out of line? Definitely. Does she deserve the punishment (seven days in alternative school) I signed off on this morning? Do I want her to receive consequences for actions I cannot and will not support? Yes. The punishment could have been much worse. Is she entirely at fault? I don't think so.

I have tremendous respect for teachers. Education, despite its faults, is a truly noble profession in a world that can claim little nobility. My own incomplete Master's degree is in education, and if life's timing had been a little different, I'd be working in a classroom now. However, I think teachers have a responsibility to their students to behave respectfully and professionally as much as students have a responsibility to treat their teachers with respect. I believe that all people have a responsibility to manage illnesses that can impair their ability to function in the world, regardless of their profession. I think this teacher has failed in both respects, and now I have to decide just how I want to handle this.

I've got a lot of thinking to do, and this will require every bit of my considerable tact and persuasion. I'd be failing as a mother though if I didn't do something about this, both in teaching my daughter better behavior and letting this teacher's behavior affect her and other children. My daughter, a talented, creative, artistic person, now feels that the best and most available outlet for developing those talents, her school system, has been shut off to her. I can't accept that, and I can't forget that this teacher shook my child once before. I don't know what to do, but I know I must do something.

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Blogger Lisa :-] said...

The only thing I can think of to say, RE the womanchild's behavior is that this is a perfect opportunity to teach the lesson that we need to treat others as we would have them treat us regardless of how they DO treat us. It's a tough lesson for anyone to learn, especially in our culture today...but I think it's one worth reinforcing.

And it wouldn't hurt to have a one-on-one with this teacher...?

February 27, 2007 5:20 PM  
Blogger Gannet Girl said...

So far it sounds like you've handled it really well.

Does the school have any kind of mediation program in place,where your dd and the teacher could talk this over with the assistance of a trained mediator and try to come to some kind of resolution?

February 27, 2007 7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, a mediator would be an awesome idea. If not through the school, maybe the school board would help.

February 28, 2007 9:30 AM  
Blogger sunflowerkat said...

This is a really tricky situation. I agree with you, that C has to face the consequences of her actions. But, that teacher seemed to be almost bullying her. To let this go at this point send the message that THAT'S ok (and of course it's not). The teacher is responsible to set an example for her students....that sometimes we have to work with people we don't necessarily get along with. She has done a very poor job of that.

I agree with everyone else. I would talk to the principal about setting up some type of mediation. I would impress on the principal that you are in agreement that C needs to be disciplined for her response, but that the teachers actions were also way out of bounds.

BTW...I'm sorry to read that your headache is still holding on. I cannot imagine having a headache for days (I've never had a migraine). I'm sure this event didn't help matters.

March 01, 2007 7:42 AM  

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