Ok, so we are reading The Hunger Games in class. When we started the book, I emphasized how important it was that NO ONE read ahead. We are using this novel as our teaching novel and since it has so much symbolism and so many themes interspersed in it, I explained to the students that we needed to walk through it together. It also has quite a bit of difficult vocabulary, so I need to make sure they understand the words to fully understand the novel.
Anyway, every child in the room was fully aware of my instructions. Now, we have readers workshop so they have lots and lots of time to read ANYTHING they would like to read, they just can't read ahead in The Hunger Games. Seems simple enough, right?
Well, this past week, I found out that 7 of my students decided to finish the novel, brag about it to their classmates, yet sit in class and act as though they hadn't gone ahead at all. I wondered why some of these same students were so spot on with certain answers and predictions. Well, come to find out it was because they did EXACTLY what I told them NOT to do.
Ok, so I call them out on it. First, I called them out on the fact that when I had asked them point blank, if they had read ahead, they told me no. That is what is called a LIE. There is no other way around it, they lied to me. Secondly, I called them out on the fact that they had an unfair advantage over the students who had not read ahead. They could make better predictions (of course they could, they already knew what would happen) and could design better responses to essay questions since they knew exactly what was going to happen next. (like I said, I wondered about their ability to be so spot on with their responses) To me, when you have an unfair advantage over another student, that is cheating.
So, because they decided to do EXACTLY what I instructed them not to do, and because they lied about it, I told them they didn't need me. They were obviously way ahead of everyone else so they could take the final test on Monday and then I would give them other reading assignments because I wouldn't want to bore them with going through the novel again.
I also told them that they needed to write an explanation of what they had done and why it was wrong and have their parents sign it. Silly me, I figured parents would want to know that their child disobeyed their teacher and lied about it.
Now the good part! I get an email from a parent upset that I called their son out on this. First they said that he didn't know he wasn't supposed to read ahead, which is a bold faced LIE, then they said they told him it was ok to read ahead, just don't tell anyone. Well, if it was ok, and you weren't doing something you knew you shouldn't be doing, why not tell people? These people are actually encouraging their child to NOT listen to the teacher, disregard what she says and lie about it. To me, doing something you know you aren't supposed to do and then not saying anything about it, is tantamount to lieing. They actually think this is ok. Then they are trying to shift the blame to me.
They say they can't understand why I would punish a child for reading. I AM NOT PUNISHING A CHILD FOR READING!!! I am giving a CONSEQUENCE TO A CHILD FOR DISREGARDING MY EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS! I do nothing but encourage reading in my class. I buy books out of my own money, I have book talks to get kids excited about books, I obtain for my students any books they show interest in reading. I have nearly killed myself this year trying to get this group excited about anything. And these parents have the gall to try to turn this situation around on me.
In their email to me, they put it in such a way that they would give me a chance to tell my side of the story. HA! They don't want to hear anything, they just want their son to not be made to deal with the consequences of his actions. It is not like I am giving detentions or anything. All I am doing is giving them the same test all the other students will take when we finish the novel, just earlier than the rest of the class. After all, they are done with the novel so they should be ready for the test. AND, I can't very well have them continue with the activities that we are doing as a class with the novel because they already know what it going to happen, so I am giving them alternate reading assignments. I still want them to be learning, they just have to do it with a different piece of work. IN FACT, I am actually making MORE work for myself by having to come up with different lessons for these students.
But, I am the bad guy here. When will parents ever learn that making excuses for your child will NOT help them in the future????
Luckily, my principal knows all about what occurred and how I handled it, so when this crazy parent contacts her she won't be caught off guard. I just hate that she has to deal with it right now. She has some serious health issues and she doesn't need any more stress.
Anyone out there have CRAZY parents to deal with besides me? I bet that is a silly question! What teacher has not had at least one parent who was difficult, right?