Entitlement Leads to Drama

As a teacher, working with parents is a significant part of the job.  It is a partnership that helps foster a positive attitude in the student toward school.  No one would be surprised to learn that when parents don’t support a teacher or a school, the student suffers.  Now add the “entitlement” factor to the partnership.  Entitlement is when parents work so hard to “support” their child that they forget to hold him or her accountable for things that happen in school which results in the child feeling like he or she is “entitled” to certain things when other students are not.    Here is a case in point, which actually happened to me today.  My student, let’s call her Sara, refused to do any more work in her writing class this morning.  That prompted the teacher to ask her why.  To which she responded, “I don’t have to listen to you.”  The teacher, as per the behavior policy at our alternative school, asked her to take some time in the “time out room” so they could problem-solve the situation.  Sara refused to do that and took out her cell phone to call her mother.  Sara then roamed the hall of the school, refusing to listen to any teacher directions.  At this point, our staff calls this a choice to leave school for the day  and the problem-solving happens the next day before school.  Sara then refused to leave the building.  It took 35 minutes, and a call to the SRO to get the student to leave the school.    She then rang the bell repeatedly and demanded to be let back in.  We have strict rules and in this situation, we did not bend them as caving in to the demands of this student would result in further behavioral incidents like this.

And now comes the parent part.  I called Sara’s mother to let her know what had happened; Sara’s mother was less than positive with me and the rules we have at our school.  I reminded the mom that this school is a special school for students with challenging behaviors and we handle all situations with very specific responses that have been in place since the school was formed 30 years ago.  We do not make exceptions to rules because then other students think we are treating people with favoritism or discrimination.  The mom continued to be angry and defensive on her daughter’s behalf and refused to accept what had happened, believing that we were trying to lock her daughter in a room–which never happened.  After the mom was finished with me she repeatedly called the school to talk to the principal; when that didn’t work she called all the administrators from her daughter’s sending school district and demanded a meeting.  I was called by one of the district officials so she could find out what happened.  She informed me that this is a regular pattern of behavior for this family; when the daughter wants something (or doesn’t want something) she makes up a story and then the mom calls everyone she can to get things changed.  Well, they are both finding out that pattern of behavior doesn’t work in this school–which is probably why she was referred here in the first place.

If only this mother could see that she’s helping shape her daughter’s feeling and belief of entitlement.  If only this mother could help support positive change in her daughter’s behavior.  If only…

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