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Dealing with parents

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by lucyy505, Nov 24, 2015.

  1. lucyy505

    lucyy505 New commenter


    I'm an NQT teaching maths and I'm seriously considering leaving the profession.

    I have got 2 difficult year 9 classes and I've been consistently following the school's behaviour system 2 warnings then a lunch detention. If they do not attend the lunch detention with me they get put in an after school.

    I am having to constantly put the same children in detentions for missing homework and misbehaving, which is exhausting as I'm having to give up the majority of my lunchtimes to deal with the poor behaviour. Some of the students are not coming to lunch detentions and are ending up in after school but I'm now getting parents complaining that their children are in detention all the time.

    Two parents have complained to my HoD and asked for their children to move classes and accused me of being a terrible teacher. However I've been graded outstanding or good with outstanding features in all my observations.

    I feel like I'm being judged constantly. I'm working at least 13 hours a day 7 days a week. I'm feeling sick about going to work and the other day I collapsed with exhaustion at my dance class I refuse to give up. At the moment I can't see any reason to carry on teaching other than to pay my rent.

    What can I do to help get these parents on side? I'm tempted to just stop giving detentions and let these kids run riot as they won't be complaining about me at home and I will be left alone to get on with teaching.
  2. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    What are the children required to do while they are in detention, lucy?
  3. lucyy505

    lucyy505 New commenter

    They normally complete the homework they didn't do in the first place or I have to set them other relevant work on the topics we've covered in class as per the school policy.
  4. SchoolBoyError

    SchoolBoyError Occasional commenter

    Certainly don't do that! The children and parents will be testing the boundaries. Invite the parents in and discuss the quantity of detentions with them, their child and your HOD. Have a copy of the school's policy to hand ready to give them to take home. Be impartial and unemotional and explain little Johny gets a detention because of x, y and z as outlined in the school's policy. If he would like to stop getting detentions he simply needs to do x, y and z again, as illustrated in the school's policy.

    I've done this a lot, albeit in Primary, but when the parents realise that I'm not picking on their child and actually it's their choices the focus shifts. If they don't like the school's policy, that's something for them to address with the SMT...
  5. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Good advice.
    Happyregardless likes this.
  6. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter

    Good advice.

    I often used to phone parents too to keep them in the picture, not just to complain about lack of homework or behaviour, but when they'd done something well etc. I always found it easier to report bad behaviour if the parents knew I appreciated the good things too. Yes, it took time but it was worth it in the end. Often I would phone in the evening from home-obviously without giving my number.

    You KNOW that you are in the right so just stick with that thought!!

    Good luck!
    notsonorthernlass likes this.
  7. Twinklefoottoe

    Twinklefoottoe Senior commenter

    Where is the HoD in all this? If this happened in my department, I would certainly check exactly what the NQT had been doing. Then once reassured that they were dealing with the situation perfectly and in line with the school policy, I would first reassure and praise the NQT (with a copy to the Head) for dealing with some difficult students and their parents in a professional, well-documented fashion, and reassure them that it is unacceptable for DTs to be eating into so much of your planning and free time, an issue I'd raise at the next HoDs meeting. I would also volunteer to do some of them, or arrange a particular day for DTs and be speaking to students directly if it is a persistent offence.

    Then I would write / phone the parents and explain that it has been fully investigated, the problem is their children not doing their homework etc and that the solution is for them to do it, as it is not optional. Explain the school policy is being fully and correctly followed. The parents should be fully supporting the school.

    It sounds like you have a dud, lazy, cynical, don't-bother-me HoD, so maybe you need to have a conversation about how they can support you, to nudge them off of their fat ar-se.
  8. lucyy505

    lucyy505 New commenter

    Thank you for all your advice. I've been feeling like I've been doing something wrong even though my mentor and professional tutor have been telling me to keep ploughing on. I didn't know how typical it is to keep having parents ringing up all the time, I've had about 15 calls and emails in total this term, or if I've just been unlucky.
  9. lucyy505

    lucyy505 New commenter

    My HoD has been telling me I'm doing the right thing and has told the parents when they've spoken to him directly that I have followed procedure and not allowed their children to move classes so I don't think that he's just sitting around doing nothing. Everyone is so busy and stressed and dealing with their own problems that I just think there isn't time for him to deal with all the calls from parents. The parents seem to be very involved in our school.
  10. muso2

    muso2 Established commenter Community helper

    Poor you - it's not a nice feeling to have complaints and when it's cold and dark it is even easier to feel despondent. If it's any comfort, I do believe it's easier after the first long term is out of the way, and since you only mention year 9 (who are notorious for being difficult for new teachers) I hope that means your other classes are going better than them! Don't give up!

    It sounds like you're doing all the right things, and seeking support from your hod. The only things I would add to previous posts, which give good advice, would be to ensure that once detentions are served, you try to re-establish a positive relationship with the students involved, praising for small things, or just taking them to one side and sayingvyou're expecting great work from them this lesson, etc. Also, it may be worth you going to observe some other teachers, maybe outside maths, maybe with specific kids you have found uncooperative, to get some extra ideas for strategies that you could use. And asking for some additional informal observations for yourself, not necessarily for whole lessons. If your Hod is teaching when you are, ask for some suggestions as to who would be good to come and watch you. I found, and still find, it really useful to watch and have feedback from a range of different colleagues.

    If kids can see that you have the support of your Hod and other senior staff, they are less likely to keep moaning to their parents.

    And keep dancing!
  11. owltutors1

    owltutors1 Occasional commenter

    Hi, I am so sorry to hear of the position you are in. The first year of teaching is definitely the toughest, but you will get there! It is so overwhelming and you are definitely thrown in at the deep end, but it sounds as if you are doing an amazing job so far with your outstanding lessons!
    Please don't give up - a consistent approach with behaviour management can seem like the problems will never be solved, but you will be surprised at what a good bit of resilience and perseverance will do.

    Please make sure you are talking to your mentor regularly and getting as much as support as possible.

    Not long until Christmas :)
  12. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    I'd consider that lucky. I get one or more most days!
    Happyregardless likes this.
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You sound like me in my very first term teaching maths, only my nightmare was a year 10 class. I can still picture those children, in that room, flatly refusing to do anything I asked them. I can even name you the worst offenders. Not sure I had a lunchbreak to myself all term, they were always in detention. I used to pray they wouldn't turn up, so I could palm them off the hod.

    But you really don't need to leave the profession. Think about your other classes...they are fine, so it can't be you. Your hod thinks you are doing the right thing, and is happy for tricky children to be in your class, so you clearly are a great teacher.

    I promise you it gets easier. Not sure why it does, but it definitely does. Hopefully in 20 years time, you'll look back and cringe with a smile on your face, just like I do now. (Yeps I somehow have got to be that old!) How on earth did DR in year 10 tell me to F*** off every single time I took the register? No child I teach now would dare do such a thing even once! Seriously, you'll be fine. December is always the worst month as well.
  14. Katierobertson

    Katierobertson New commenter

    It is easier just to be older. Parents don't often challenge the authority of someone closer to their age but often challenged my beginning teacher who was a wonderful teacher and colleague.
  15. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    A tip from my first HoD: go down your class list, look at each name, and see how many nice kids you have. Sometimes your feelings about a set are dominated by the half-dozen who cause the most problem, and you forget the ten kids who do everything you ask!
  16. lucyy505

    lucyy505 New commenter

    Thanks for all your advice. The amount of phone calls are escalating and they seem to be all talking to one another as they are saying similar things and saying I heard that so and so had this resolution etc. HoD and pastoral are now involved and I'm having people in my lessons all the time who all keep saying I'm doing a fantastic job and following school policy to the letter but the calls are getting more frequent and more rude. There seems to be a group determined to out me. It's not the children (who are 99% lovely) it's the parents. Some of the more persistent parents' children though are now messing around in class and not coming to detentions or talks with me or any other staff members as they just say oh mum will ring up and she says I don't have to listen. My mentor is tearing her hair out trying to help me and saying she doesn't know what else I can do. I'm at the end of my tether.
  17. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    When I got to the point where kids were saying that their parents told them they didn't have to listen to me, I called in the parents for meetings, and had the HoD with me for them. Individual meetings to discuss individual children. Have to hand their grades, their expected grades, exactly what they are doing in lessons - specific examples - how you and the school are handling this (school policies by the letter). Every parent should sign a school agreement in my opinion before they start school, so you can point to this and say 'you have agreed that you support the school policies'....

    Parents are usually less lairy when they are called in to a meeting about their child than they are behind the safety of the phone. See them individually, refuse to discuss any other child than theirs. Behaviour agreements can be drawn up with pastoral/dept. team and signed by student and parent - with clear details of what will happen if child does not make improvements.

    At least you do have the support of the school behind you and you have been told you are doing exactly what is required of you. The bottom line is that if the parents don't like it they can move their children.
    marlin likes this.
  18. dumpty

    dumpty Star commenter

    I agree it is best to call them in talk things through so they can be part of the solution. Many parents I find do appreciate this once they can see there is no focus on their kids alone and then things can turn completely in your favour as they will help. Mention the kid's good sides and how he would become even better if he did so and so.

    One overseas HT I worked for would invite the parents in to witness their kid's behaviour and the teacher's reality ( they would watch from a distance or through an open door) and this was incredibly successful, without fail, at getting parents to see the light and subsequently get on your side.

    Probably some law against that in the UK?
  19. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    If a child said that to me, I would ensure that they were out of my class and straight into the disciplinary procedures ASAP - if necessary I would march them into the Head's office and make them repeat what they said to me, and tell the HT that until the parent apologises to me personally this child wouldn't be in my classroom.
    purplecarrot likes this.
  20. Clive_Candy

    Clive_Candy Occasional commenter

    Of course, some kids are the way they are because the parents are the way they are which is probably because their parents were the way they were. Sometimes you're on a hiding to nothing contacting parents.

    I hope your boss has the experience to know some parents are no better than their kids and spending any time talking to them is a waste of breath.

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