Classroom Management

The Age Of Entitlement

When I first started teaching years ago I was gifted with classes that had almost 100% parent involvement. If I needed items for activities, parents signed up. If we had classroom parties parents not only volunteered to organize them, but they also showed up to help.  Over the years, this participation slowly declined. Parents were frazzled and basically shoved kids through my classroom door. I then started noticing what we now call ‘entitlement’ – students who expected things from me with little or no effort, and everyone expected to win.
But lately I am noticing something that is even worse than entitled kids: the age of entitled parents.
Yep, our little darlings not have been raised by these entitled parents to expect everything handed to them, but the parents expect this as well. Little Johnny got a bad grade? It’s the teacher’s fault. Susie didn’t get an award for meeting her math facts goal? Well she should get something for effort. Classroom needs supplies? Not the parents’ problem. There’s a party being celebrated? Parents don’t show up because it isn’t their responsibility. I’ve even been told that students shouldn’t be expected to grade their own work since that’s what I get paid for. I will never understand this form of thinking. Why would parents not want to be a part of their child’s education? Why would they not want to take advantage of special occasions, celebrating their child and making memories?
In order to not lose my sanity with classrooms of this nature I have had to reorganize my policies and increase my expectations, not to mention get hardened with parents.
At the beginning of the year I lay down clear expectations for my students. I have even turned them into a creed and we recite them each day. Students know exactly what is expected from them. I also send these expectations home and have parents and students sign them. I include a note outlining these policies and how by signing them the parents understand, agree and SUPPORT me in this endeavor. The children must bring this signed form back to me the first day of school as their ticket into the classroom. (Thankfully we have a parent orientation a week before the first day of school that is mandatory per administration and I have an opportunity to discuss any concerns at that time. If parents don’t show up for parent orientation it is administration’s problem, not mine. If parents have any concerns after they leave parent orientation they have a week to seek me out and go over anything with me.)
So far this year has rolled along smoothly. If there is ever a concern or an expectation hasn’t been met all I have to do is pull the form and remind the parent about it. If a child complains because of a lack of responsibility on his or her part, I walk them over to the displayed expectations and point it out. Everything is very black and white.
Do I like being this way? Not really. I’m more of a ‘color outside the lines’ kids of teacher. Has it saved my sanity and frustration level? Definitely.
How do you deal with entitled parents and students in your classroom?

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