This video of an Australian answering machine has been through my mailbox more than once, but perhaps some of you have not received it.The video says that it is an actual message to the parents. I would like to think this actually happened. If it didn’t it should have.
As I’ve said before, I was fortunate enough in my teaching experience to teach the majority of my time in a gifted and talented program. As a result, I had few real run ins with my parents.
I do remember one parent.. Her eight year old firstborn was in in my class. He was a nice enough little guy but he was not the most organized. He was supposed to hand in a writing assignment. When it came time to collect it, it was nowhere to be found and he was quite rightly upset. However, he was not upset with himself. He was upset with me because I, in my kind-hearted attempt to show mercy, told him he could do it over again and I would accept it. I did accept late assignments although they started with ten points off the grade to begin.
He didn’t say anything but obviously he said something when he got home. The teachers in our program often stayed several hours after school because there was so much planning and lesson preparation to be done plus grading of the assignments. These children routinely accomplished in one or two lessons what the regular classroom did in a week or more. Thus more work. I was staying late.
In those days the school did not find it necessary to lock the doors until everyone was out. The mother came directly to my room. It was obvious that she was upset.
She swore up and down that her child had completed the assignment. I never mentioned to her son that I didn’t think he did. She felt I didn’t believe him. (Which may have been the case.) She proceeded to take everything out of his locker and go through it all. Not finding it there, she then attacked his desk and repeated the process. That was difficult for her because she was a hefty woman and the desks at those time had cubbyholes underneath the seats for the children to store all their materials. There was just enough room for books and folders, yet some children had a knack of accumulating a lot of other junk (like graded assignments) stuffed into the spaces around the books.
She sat on the floor and actually cried out of frustration of not finding the essay. It was really quite a show of parental concern. “I know he DID it. I put it into his backpack.” Evidently she still didn’t understand the concept that I would accept it as a late paper on Monday morning. His was the only one missing from the entire class. I swear she was about to accuse me of picking on her child and disposing of the essay he had worked so hard to produce. She didn’t go quite that far that evening to my face. She gave up and on Monday morning her son handed me his assignment.
There were a couple of more incidents with this mother that I won’t detail but the one on Valentine’s Day REALLY set her off. The children were allowed to bring Valentines to class to pass out. As an art lesson we even made bags for them to hold the cards. The bags were all lined up along the ledge beneath the chalk boards. I’ll stop here to say that the children were told explicitly, and were given a note to go home, that they were only to sign each card without putting any other child’s name on it. They were to go to the bags one at a time and slip one valentine into each bag.
Now granted there were some holes in the plan. If a child really wanted to give another child a particular valentine, it would not have been impossible to do it. Also, if the child didn’t wish to give a particular child a valentine, it would have been easy enough to skip a bag. Either way, the plan was not foolproof. The instructions were put into force for two reasons: one, it would have taken almost the entire time allotted for the party for each child to go back and forth trying to find a particular bag. Also, it assured as much as possible that each child would get a valentine from every other child regardless of how unpopular they might be.
If you guessed that the child in question came to school with every valentine addressed to each individual child, you are correct. I told him to take the valentines out of the envelopes and do what every other child in the class knew what to do. Again, the mother was very upset. Her child had spent much time the night before agonizing over choosing just the right valentine for each classmate…and I ruined the whole day for him.
That child is in his mid 30s now. I have heard about many other students but I’ve not heard any more from him. I often wonder if the mother ever let her child be responsible for his own actions or take the consequences of not listening to or following directions. It makes one wonder. This answering machine would have been ideal to answer her calls when she called about his mean teachers.
I cannot remember the time line but it seems soon after that event the old fashioned doors were chained at 3:30. Teachers now had to exit the front door which could be locked without chains. There were no answering machines in those days. It’s too bad. Other teachers had parents who were like that as well. It could have saved a lot of hassle…if this is really how it could be handled. Namaste. Attic Annie