Why Bother to Clear Up Misconceptions?
Any public school teacher knows what it is like when one of your student’s mothers gets infuriated at you. If you work in the profession of teaching even for any length of time, an encounter with a mad mama is inevitable. Whether in person, via email or a phone call, a raving mom, like a bear protecting her cub, is one to be avoided whenever possible.
A Line of Defense
Any good principal, will, as much as possible, protect their employees from a mad mama. Recently, mine did this for me.
After releasing my students for the day, I sat down at my desk and began correcting a pile of math papers. One of my fellow teachers popped her head in and said, “Just giving you a little warning. A furious Mrs. S. came into the building looking for you, but I directed her to the principal’s office where she is now unloading her complaint.”
I thanked my coworker for steering the mad mama to the principal’s office. Though the news stirred up a small amount of anxiety, I didn’t let it distract me from my stack of work.
Driving home though, I had time to imagine the various reasons why Mrs. S. was so upset. Though I’d thought we’d had a fairly decent relationship as far as parent and teacher, I’d been having to redirect her son a lot this past week. He’d been acting rather rudely, unfocused and giving the least amount of effort to his work.
The next day, I expected the principal to fill me in on the encounter with Mrs. S. But, the day went by without any news, reprimand or warning from my boss. But before the end of the day, I approached the topic with the principal with a bit of trepidation.
Thankfully, my principal understands that there are always two sides to any story. She told me that after Mrs. S. had unloaded her fury, she told her that she should contact me to get the full picture of what her son had told her about me. I thanked my principal and went back to my classroom to make a phone call to the mad mom, one of my least favorite, yet necessary parts to my job.
Thankfully, mad mama’s anger had subsided and she was ready to talk. First she expressed her frustration with what her son, L. had been telling her. “He says you are always on his case and yesterday, he came out to the car in tears.”
“Did he tell you that I had to reprimand him for making fun of one of his classmates who has a speech impediment?”
“No, he didn’t tell me that.”
“Did he tell you that he had to rewrite his essay because he did not follow the instructions?”
“No, he didn’t tell me that.”
Then Mom went on to reveal to me the struggle she was having with him at home; his snarky attitude, his refusal to obey and laziness.”
“So,” I surmised, “We are both dealing with the same thing.” She laughed and agreed with me.
We also admitted that holding his toes to the fire, so to speak, was the best thing we could do for him.
With a smile and sign, I hung up the phone.
Why bother to clear up misconceptions? Though I dislike dealing with mad mamas, doing so clears up those misconstrued ideas that cause rifts between parents and teachers, and reunites them to the same side, benefiting the kid.