The Story Behind that Pesky Parent Email

“Hey mom, did you see the grade on my recent quiz? I got a 10% and I am not sure why. I asked the teacher and I am still not sure why or if I can do anything to improve. My grade dropped from an A to a F after the quiz was put into the gradebook.”

As the young man shared this with his mom, she listened carefully. He usually avoids talking about school. Up to this point in the new school year, he had actually been very conscientious about turning in his assignments. That was a huge improvement over other years, where sometimes he didn’t even bother to get the “free” points by turning in a signed syllabus.

“Man,” the mom thought to herself, “I am worried that he will get discouraged and stop trying. I wonder how a grade could drop from an A to a F in one day. I could understand if it was the second week of school, but this is a month into the year.”

“I bet this teacher doesn’t know my son very well because he has so many students to get to know. Maybe if the teacher knew more about his story, he might be able to connect with him to help him improve. I wonder if I should contact the teacher?” The mother debated how to best help her son.

The next day, when they had a chance to have a deeper conversation, they talked about what he could do to improve. They also talked over the idea of sharing some information about her son’s history and struggles with the teacher. After much discussion, the son agreed to think about his mom emailing the teacher.

The mom composed an email to the teacher, sharing that her son had always struggled in school and how impressed she was with his effort so far this school year. She asked the teacher for guidance on how to best help him. She hoped that her email would also pull at his heartstrings a bit so that he could make a connection with her son and encourage his success.

“Well, there are a few ways this could go,” she thought to herself. “The teacher may reach out to my son and help him. Or, he could get defensive and things would not get better. Worst case scenario, in his defensiveness, he would look for things my son does wrong and things would go further downhill. My son is not easy to get to know and sometimes he is impulsive, the teacher might not like him already. Oh boy, maybe it is too risky. Maybe I should just delete the email.”

She shared her thinking with her son, and the risks the email posed. He thought the outcome would be positive, and he told her to send the email.

“You are right. Let’s assume the positive. I am sure this teacher went into education to help kids become better people and because he loves all students. That is why all teachers go into education, right?”

I will let you finish this story…how do you think it ended?

Think of teachers you know, what action plan do you think they would come up with?

Can you imagine a teacher getting defensive, making the situation worse? How could we support a teacher like that?

Can you imagine a teacher helping the student turn things around? How might they go about doing that?

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