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Difficult parents!!!

Discussion in 'Primary' started by Mitzi14, Oct 22, 2011.

  1. Mitzi14

    Mitzi14 New commenter

    I recently started at a new school and had the 'settling in' parents evening last week. I have a few disruptive children in my class and made sure I gave the parents of these children some positives and then went on to mention that they are often quite chatty or can lack focus. Obviously I put this in as nice a way as possible and the parents didn't express any more concerns. My head told me that he has had phone calls of complaints from these parents saying that I was really negative etc when I know I definitely wasn't. There is a big clique of parents in the playground and I feel that I am being used a scape goat because I am new. It is maing me really unhappy as I feel that my head isn't supporting me and this is really affecting my self-esteem as a teacher. Any tips on what I should do next?
  2. Ok I've got the same thing. I was about to start my holidays when I had a clash with a parent. And yes I felt pretty bad about it. Do you ever wonder how a bus driver copes taking abuse from the general public everyday? My solution in three steps:

    1. Go to senior teachers for help.
    2. Try to win the trust of the parents.
    3. Do some work on your own self esteem. (only you can decide what this means)

    Remember that if you criticise a child, the parent feels criticised.
  3. I had a lot of this when I started at my school. The parents of that particular class were dreadful and kept coming in for the slightest little thing, mainly to just come and rattle me, I think. It didn't help that the head was keen to hear their moans and groans as he almost trusted their judgement over mine. I was very young and inexperienced and I definitely wouldn't let any parent speak to me now they way they did back then. It really knocked my confidence and I found it difficult to click with that class, probably because I was worried about the parents for the whole year.
    In the end I just made sure I was really careful and didn't say anything that the parents might want to come in and talk to me about, I did everything by the book and ran myself ragged for a year.
    The best thing I learned (and I still do this today) was to get in first - if a child has been playing up, I speak to the child and then inform the head or deputy that I've dealt with the situation but am telling them so that they can be prepared if a parent rings up or comes in. There's nothing worse than an irate parent collaring the head when the head knows nothing about it! If you get there first then you can explain your point of view in a calm and sensible way rather than feeling that you're under attack and coming across defensively. This has worked well but I'm lucky enough to have a head who wants to know what's going on and who deals with parents on a regular basis.
  4. McCahey

    McCahey New commenter

    I think most teachers will have experienced this at some point. It's horrible, especially when you are half killing yourself to give a child a good education. Do these kids have a 'history' in the school? Even if the parents won't listen it will reassure you that it's not just you!
    Do you keep an incident log? This can be really helpful for spotting patterns of behaviour and for talking about specific incidents with parents. I invite parents into school one evening a week for a quick chat but stress that this is to let them know of the positives as well as any concerns. I always try and find a piece of good work to show them.
    I don't believe in keeping quiet for an easy life. It's not fair on anybody and especially the teacher the following year who then has to face up to a reality check with the parents and children.
    Finally, remember that some parents live in that happy land called 'Denia'l. Their little darlings NEVER do anything wrong!
    Try, try, try to enjoy half term!
  5. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Can you talk to the teacher they had last year? You may find they had the same problem.
  6. Alongside other good suggestions made you need to develop a thick skin and a teacher persona. So, always have a welcoming smile for parents; do not go defensive, instead always have a default position of listening and sympathising, meanwhile explaining why you took a certain course of action; do not apologise, explain courteously. Keep a professional distance and take nothing personally (even though it might be meant personally).It sounds like you need to do the same with the head. If you feel he is not supporting you the professional thing to do is to ask for his support and advice. That might remind him about what his role should be in this matter.
  7. Mitzi14

    Mitzi14 New commenter

    The teachers I have spoken to have all said they have been like this throughout the school. However it does seem that it has been swept under the carpet when it comes to informing parents as all the parents seem to think it is me that has turned them into the way they are. I really appreciate all the ideas-I think I will start keeping an incident book as it is proof of what I am saying. It's reassuring to know that other people have had the same experience as I felt as though it was just me!
  8. becky70

    becky70 Occasional commenter

    Possibly but some parents do try it on - they will say "he wasn't like that in Mrs. X's class" even though he was and they were told he was! They are more likely to do this with a new teacher.
  9. Mitzi14

    Mitzi14 New commenter

    Good point. I think also because I'm young they see me as an easy target.
  10. If you get a class of them (the parents that is not the kids) it's a nightmare. I had a yeargroup of very difficult kids, made much worse by the steady line of parents every single morning wanting to complain about something or other (and worse still 90% of the time their kids had wound another child up to provoke a reaction and give them something to complain to their parents about). It's really hard - in my case thankfully my head would always back her staff, especially when pre-warned if anything had happened so she wasn't trying to deal with it cold and unforewarned.
    Worst I had was when something had kicked off during my PPA, the covering TA hadn't bothered to tell me and had headed home at 3.30, I was rushing off to make a doctor's appointment and a very irrate parent collared me to demand to know what had gone on, and despite seeing me make a note to chase it up with the staff member and children concerned in the morning (as it's impossible to do that at 3.45 when everyone involved is no longer on-site) and me telling her it would be dealt with and apologising profusely that I really had to dash to make an appointment -she followed me down the street (past our delightful receptionists in the office who would never inconvenience themselves by challenging WHY a parent was wandering round the school 30 minutes after hometime) and to the door of my car STILL in full flow!
    Rationally though I knew what this class of parents were like - I'd seen them pull the same tricks with the previous year's teacher... all the joy added to by a TA who'd love to stir it up as well with glee at being privvy to what goes on in the classroom and revelling in "but of course I'm not allowed to tell you" (delivered with a wonderful smirk immediately provoking a fresh wave of paranoia and outrage).
    Just a vile concentration of personalities and I'll admit there were mornings I'd make sure I wasn't in the classroom immediately before school just to cut myself a bit of a break from it all (since the office staff would just let everyone wander into school, even parents known for being abusive toward teachers).
  11. If I anticipate trouble, I always ask the previous teacher before seeing the parent. A useful idea is also to have the previous year's report on the desk. I don't read it out, but parents seem less ready to argue with paper.
    Best greeting "Mm yes. After talking to ( last year's teacher) I was a bit concerned about how he/she would be this year, but overall he/she seems to have matured/ grown up ( depends on parent which words I use). Perhaps this is just a blip, but let's monitor him/ her/ this shall we? I usually find that once they know that we have shared our concerns, things settle down again.Would you like to come and see me again in ... and see how things are going? Or shall I just contact you if things aren't going too well?
  12. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Totally agree with this. If parents can make out it is you them of course they will do so. The alternative is admitting they have known all about it for years and yet failed to address it at all. No-one is going to do that are they?

    Relax and enjoy your holiday. They are only horrible parents...at least you only have to see them a few times a year.
  13. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    This is really good advice. Your group of parents are probably just as anxious as you - there's always some comment that gets me all upset/hot under the collar from both sides of the fence!! Plus, I think, sometimes, they just want to know that you like them (the kids, that is) - even if you don't much.
  14. mystery10

    mystery10 Occasional commenter

    I think it's horrid that parents go to the head rather than discuss it further with you if it's still bothering them after parents' evening.
    Don't take it personally, just assume that,like you, these parents want the best for their child and they don't really know how to go about it.
    Then also take it as positive that these parents have complained. It means they do care about their children's education. Although it seems terrible to you they have complained, it is better than them just laughing, shrugging their shoulders, saying "boys will be boys" or something facile like that, and the discipline problems with those kids gets worse.
    Why not take some proactive steps and involve these parents more? Tell them what steps you take when their children misbehave, discuss some combined approaches you could have so that they can reinforce good school behaviour at home? If the children have work to catch up on as a result of misbehaviour, send it home for completion?
    You might find you turn around the work of the children, and the opinion of the parents. And if it doesn't work at least you have shown the parents that you are giving it your best shot and it is their children that are little *******.
    I have been told that a child of mine is "very chatty", "not showing his / her potential as a result". As a parent it is very hard to know what this all really means, what the implications are, what I should do about it, why the teacher is telling me etc etc. When this is landed on you in 5 mins of parents' evening and then half-term hols almost immediately straight after it's hard to know what to do. I wouldn't complain to the head, but I can imagine some would just to understand a way forward as class teachers are less accessible than the head.

  15. 'tis my experience that children tell their parents only the version of events that represents the child in a good light... as do we all... when telling someone our version of events.
    Worth bearing in mind. Though I haven't perfected a method of telling a parent that little Johnny is lying his pants off.

  16. clear_air

    clear_air New commenter

    Just re-read your original OP - how about doing the negative things first, and ending with the positives next time? Leave 'em on a high note rather than a damp squib?
  17. upsadaisy

    upsadaisy New commenter

    I have often found that teachers often don't want to tell parents the real truth about how their children are doing at school. This does no favours for the children, but of course makes an easy life for the teacher, as those parents won't come in and complain.

    I often found in KS2 it was worse, when I had to break it to a parent that their child was really struggling. I often found that having some evidence of what level of work was expected and then a comparison of their own child's work helped and didn't seem like I was being mean.
  18. lillipad

    lillipad New commenter

    I've found it easier to tackle parents face to face, invite them to stay after school after all the others have cleared off. Then ask them for their point of view. Discuss it calmly and rationally (Hard sometimes I know) and then show them evidence. If you've got evidence, they can't exactly dispute it can they! Plus i've also found, be overly nice to them. Always greet them with a big smile and friendly hello, they find it harder to be nasty to you if you're always very friendly rather than defensive!
  19. A very experienced teacher once told me to say; 'If you promise to believe only half of what they tell you about us, we promise to believe only half of what they tell us about you!'
  20. What would you do as a parent if your child told you something quite worrying about their teacher? For example, they started screaming and shouting over a silly mistake a child had made, then started crying and ran out of the room. The most worrying thing was that the TA didn't react as though this was out of the ordinary apparently!

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