Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Outrage and Gluesticks

Ainsley's teacher done went and ticked me off.

I have been trying to give her the benefit of the doubt. I am an educator; I don't think my child is perfect; I am on her side. I firmly believe in sitting back and letting a teacher do his or her job and not interfering unless harm is being done. And my beef has nothing to do with how she is treating Ainsley or anything she does in the classroom. She's a good teacher.

But she's kind of a bitch.

Maybe that's harsh. But her written correspondence rubs me the wrong way. She's a big fan of exclamation points when telling me as a parent that I've done something wrong. Exclamation points, when used after a command of correction, can seem like yelling.

Initial! she's written several days in Ainsley's homework planner after I have forgotten to initial that my kid has done her homework. Fine. I have forgotten, I think, twice. Though if it were me, I think I would just write Please initial or Oops! and maybe follow that up with a smiley face to let the parent know I am being good-natured about it. But if Initial! were my only reprimand, I'd deal.

Then there was the time I committed the grave mistake of asking for schoolwork in advance for the two days Ainsley was going to be out for us to go out of town for Granny's funeral. That day, the day before we were leaving to put my grandmother in the ground, mind you, Ainsley had this note in her backpack:

School policy states we cannot give makeup work until after the days have been missed! We do not have time to get all that together before the absence! She will need to wait until Friday afternoon and then I will put all her work in a folder for you to pick up at the church office!


I realized my request for early work may have made the teacher angry; I remember that it used to annoy me as a teacher if I was struggling with time and hadn't run copies for that lesson yet. But I didn't demand it; I just said if there was anything the teacher could send with us ahead of time that would keep her from getting too far behind, that we had a long road trip ahead of us and Ainsley could do some reading in the car. But again, I let it go. And vowed to give this teacher a wide berth for a while.

And then came the issue of the gluesticks yesterday.

Ainsley needs more gluesticks. She should've brought extra ones in at the beginning of the year with her other school supplies!


I thoroughly went over her teacher's supply list. I bought what was asked for, including six large gluesticks. Just like the rest of Ainsley's supplies, they went with Ains on that first day in a Ziploc bag and I helped her transfer it all into her chair pocket.

The child started school with six (large! per the teacher's written list) gluesticks. I am certain of it.

I did my job.

I am organized. Ainsley is not so much. I know this. We work on it. My guess is that Ainsley lost them, or gave them away to others who found themselves without, or that other children took them from her chair pocket. Perhaps she ate them. Any of the above is within the realm of possibility. Any of the above necessitates my buying more at the K-Marts yesterday.

But none of those possibilities is my fault. None of those demands a reprimand to me from her teacher implying I didn't follow through with the parental responsibility of sending my kid to school with adequate supplies.

In the event I was making way too much of this, and just in case I was taking her tone wrong (so easy to do in written correspondence, as email has taught us all) I let Jason read it before I sat down to write a snarky reply or put a snippy voice mail in her box.

"Yeah, I see why you're mad," Jason said. "Why don't you write a nasty note back asking how in the world a kid can use or lose 6 gluesticks in one classroom between August and October?"

Let's not go that far.

I am torn now with how to proceed. I'm a little feisty. I don't generally let anyone walk all over me or talk down to me without fighting back in some way. I'm also easy to get my feelings hurt; I got upset the very few times as a kid that a teacher reprimanded me. I don't like it any more now that I am older and a mom myself. I left first grade behind 28 years ago. I have no desire to get a first grade teacher's scorn ever again. This makes me want to respond in some way and to let the teacher know in a nice way that I don't respond well to notes home with commands or reprimands terminated with an exclamation point not followed by a smiley.

I toyed with the idea of sending Ainsley to school today with about 100 gluesticks (large!) in a garbage bag just to make a point. I thought of asking to talk to the teacher in person, I thought of shooting her an email (though we're back to that tricky area of written correspondence and tone), and I thought of just plain shooting her. : )

Just kidding! (See how much better the smiley face makes my tone?)

Help me out here. Especially you moms, though anyone who has dealt with someone whose written tone comes across as off-putting has expertise here, too. What do I do? Besides sit here all day and smolder?


Robert K. said...

I don't know how old this woman is, but perhaps she's just oblivious to the fact that, in the internet age, exclamation points come across as yelling or anger. I think you should talk to her face-to-face and explain politely that you feel her written communication comes across as harsh (which you are SURE she did not intend, of course). Either she apologizes and changes her ways, or she really does turn out to be a total bee-yotch, in which case feel free to unleash your venom in whatever way you see fit. ;)

Library Lady said...

Excellent use of the winking smiley!

She is old enough to have one kid who just graduated from high school, and Ainsley's school does not provide each teacher with her own computer, so she may not understand the internet age's new etiquette of punctuation and capitalization.

I think I'm going to have to meet her face to face...Blurg.

DD said...

I like the idea of sending Ainsley with the sack'o'gluestickes and you can attach a note:


DD said...

Of course, you will want to spell check before you send...obviously, I didn't! :-) hahahahahahahahhaa

Karen said...

It's ironic that you wrote this today, around the same time as I was struggling with an e-mail I had sent earlier. I was trying to curb my usual overuse of smileys, and realized that my e-mail had a way more snarky tone than I had intended. And my efforts to correct my sarcastic ways only made things worse. At least it was to a friend who (I think) has forgiven me. :)

While I don't think that exclamation points necessarily show yelling or anger (I often use them after positive sentences or a thank you in e-mails), it sure sounds like this teacher has some be-autchy issues. Why on earth would you put an exclamation point after those sentences? Her tone is downright nasty. I can't give you advise on what to do though. I'm notoriously passive-aggressive, and I would write a downright nasty e-mail and then never send it. ;)