Reasons You May Complain About Your Child's Teacher(s) During Distance Learning

I am very fortunate to have had zero problems with the parents of my students during distance learning so far, and for the most part have been so happy to see such support and gratitude from most parents for our profession these days.


Some people, including some fellow teachers, which I do not understand at all, have the audacity to complain right now.

During a pandemic. 

A pandemic that allowed some teachers mere hours to prepare to exit their classrooms for months. 

So, just in case anyone has questions, I have some guidelines as to when it's okay to publicly complain about your child's teacher(s) during a time of rushed, mandatory distance learning.* There are times were contacting a school or teacher is definitely warranted, but other times maybe not. 

When you should most definitely consider complaining (to the school):

1. If your child's teacher doesn't make an effort to connect to your family or doesn't respond to emails in a timely manner (let's say 1 business day)
2. If the teacher doesn't give your child work (or much work... this will vary depending on grade level and subject, but let's say a worksheet a week is not acceptable)
3. If the teacher threatens to lower a child's grade; in the state of California this is not allowed
4. If the teacher does something to make your child feel less-than, insulted, attacked, etc...
5. If you don't have technological resources and the teacher refuses to provide a packet assignment for pick-up (or whatever your district has decided the alternative to be)

When you should most definitely NOT complain:

1. If you feel like too much work is assigned. Your child's teacher is working hard to prepare and post that work, and, as stated before, the grade cannot go down if an assignment here or there is missed
2. If your child will not do the work. The kid is yours- you are the boss. This would be an excellent time to revisit the expectations of your home and adjust accordingly (yes, there are exceptions with kids who have true behavioral or health issues, but if this is not a relevant concern, perhaps I may suggest limiting screen time until school work has been done?)
3. If you don't like the type of work being assigned. We are all working with technology the best we can without anywhere near ample time to prepare
4. If you feel like you or your child are getting "too many" notifications from their teacher. Again, that teacher is working really hard to deliver content, provide feedback, and build that bridge between school and home. 
5. Your child's teacher wants to have frequent Zooms/Google Meets- They want to see your kid's darling face and check their knowledge. Yup, it means setting up the tech if your kid is little and making sure no one drop an F-bomb, but, again, the teacher is doing this in order to check on your kid, not judge your home-decorating. Sometime you might have to skip them- teachers get this. 

Suggestions for acting on concerns:
1. Be kind and explain- We want to help, I promise. We do not want to be criticized or told what to do, though. If you and your spouse are working around the clock and are caring for lots of kids, tell us. A modified plan can be made.
2. Ask around- what are the other parents in the class thinking and doing? 
3. Do your best before complaining- Before getting upset from the get-go, let things settle down and see what your family can manage before complaining to the teacher.
4. Have your child talk to the teacher if they are old enough- Sure, a first grader is going to have trouble articulating concerns, but a sixth or seventh grader could probably begin this process, a parent then stepping in if they can't get things resolved.
5. Adjust notification settings- Before getting too annoyed, adjust the notification in your apps so you aren't getting as many, but maybe set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to check in manually so that nothing is being missed 

I get it- many parents are trying to juggle helping their kids with schoolwork while doing their own as well. Same here- I spend between 7-10 hours a day on educating my child and my actual students, and prepping lessons for both (my son hasn't gotten work from his school, since it's private and we aren't paying tuition). And I'm not saying to not complain- just maybe to your spouse or your friend on the phone as opposed to social media or making calls to a principal on the daily. We cannot as a society expect teachers to educate during this time if we are criticizing how they are doing it. 

*This does not apply to students with IEPs or when true exceptions in regards to health or behavior are factors

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