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Parent making me feel pants

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Trixie1, Jun 11, 2019.

  1. Trixie1

    Trixie1 New commenter

    Hi all,
    Probably just needing to vent as probably being over sensitive...
    I am nearly through my first year at a new school (been teaching for 7 years). I’ve got a parent this year who has accused me of letting another boy bully her child. I have looked into it and couldn’t find evidence of anything except one incident of name calling, which the boy was given a consequence for. She has accused me of having favourites, talked about me indirectly on Facebook and written an e-mail of complaint about me to the chair of govs and head. She now doesn’t have contact with me and insists on talking to the head. I’ve never experienced anything like this before and feel devastated. My head is being ok but I also don’t feel supported as she is agreeing to meet with the parent without me. The mum is now talking about taking her son out. I am taking it all very personally and not sleeping over it. I am trying to be really supportive to the son and don’t know what to do next. He has issues himself and moved to our school after bullying at the previous school. I would hate to think he feels bullied and I’m trying to catch things happening but not been successful. Any advice on getting a tougher skin? Never felt like this
  2. mollyhog

    mollyhog Occasional commenter

    Sorry to hear this. I have similar - first ever complaint from a parent last year - she is still complaining this year and has got others involved. I'm actually very pleased that the head is dealing with her because she's a pain in the neck and nothing will ever be good enough for her because she is convinced that she knows more about teaching then I do. Shrug it off - some parents are just like that. Yes, it does make you feel rubbish, but just remember all the parents that are not complaining. Whenever she complains about me now I highlight 6 kids who are doing well / making huge improvements and I email home to say how pleased I am with their progress. I then get some lovely replies back from their parents. I guess it works both ways - people only tend to make contact when they have a problem, not when they are pleased with someone. Try to ignore it if you can.
  3. eleanorms

    eleanorms Occasional commenter

    This happens. Some people have such a poor life, or think of themselves so poorly, that they create a power drama with themselves as both victim and hero. This parent has probably tried it on with others, and they probably will again. They know you cannot fight them back. Maybe this young man was bullied at his previous school. Maybe it was same old, same old. Maybe they’ll move on and take the problem with them. Your headteacher really has no option but to meet with the parent. But using Facebook is tacky and mean. Six weeks to go!
  4. JessicaRabbit1

    JessicaRabbit1 Senior commenter

    Must be something in the water, I have the same at the moment - particularly awful parent who thought I was the bees knees at the start of the year but has now decided I'm the devil incarnate. What's changed? Her darling daughter's behaviour. I have had to speak to her a few times about low-level disruption and suddenly I'm an awful teacher. She has said some truly awful things about me - not to my face but to my line manager who has been fab - and it has knocked me for six because in 8 years of teaching I've never had this.

    I know how you feel, I'm not the most thick-skinned either and tend to take things like this to heart. What has helped me this week is talking to other teachers in the school who have reassured me that it's not me, it's her. They've shared similar horror stories about situations they've been in and helped me to realise that it can happen to the best of us.

    Talking about you on social media is not ok. Is there anyone in the school you can talk to?
  5. Grandsire

    Grandsire Senior commenter

    Wise words above.

    In my experience, you can’t please everyone all the time - and it’s also true that some parents can get a bit unhinged. I’ve had many, many parents who’ve said and written lovely things about me, but it’s the (thankfully) few truly awful ones I can still remember by name and even dream about sometimes! Generally, if they’re becoming unhinged about you, you’re unlikely to be the first. Ask other teachers how they’ve coped. Talking about it really helps.

    In my experience, bullying experiences can make some parents so hypersensitive that they actually ask their children each night, “Has X been unkind to you today?” - and the child then tries to think of something - anything... even making something up - to fulfil that parental expectation. In the past, I’ve known experienced staff have conversations with these parents about having different conversations with their children: asking What went well today? Who was kind to you? A child in our school came with prior history of being bullied, and for a couple of years, every single thing that happened to that child was ‘bullying’, and demanded the Head’s immediate attention. It can take a lot of input and reassurance and time to calm things down, but if you all pull together it can sometimes be done.

    Definitely report the inappropriate use of social media to higher authorities, though.

    Some kids get hiked from school to school to school (one kid I taught was at their fifth school in four years, not including time being home-schooled!), with the parents never realising that the problem may lie elsewhere than the schools themselves. They seem completely oblivious to the fact that it would be most unlikely that ALL the schools could be failing their precious offspring.

    You can’t please everyone, and it’s not long until the holidays. Hold on, and remember all the success stories I know you’ve had.
  6. Laphroig

    Laphroig Lead commenter

    If you are not already a union member, join now.
  7. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Occasional commenter

    If you only have one complaint out of all the children you teach, I’m sure the head knows you are doing your job effectively and will get to the bottom of why this is happening.

    Bullying is an issue all staff must take responsibility for, not just a classroom teacher. You have all the pressures of curriculum delivery. This seems to be the job of a head of year to investigate and sort out. Also, if the child hasn’t told you of any more incidents, you’re unable to deal with them.

    I had a child this year who’s parent complained about me. The child acted normal in my lessons and I had no idea she thought I hated her. Turns out, she didn’t have enough points to go on the rewards trip due to poor behaviour elsewhere and she blamed me for not giving her enough points.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    To me after reading the OP, the thing that stands out is that this child had a record of this happening at the previous school and the poster has now become the target.

    Your head needs to deal with this and be stern with the parent and stop this at the source - parent(s).

    Please do not take any of this personally as you can see it is quite a common problem but I can understand how you would be upset but understand that it is the parents and child with the problem or issues.

    Ensure you keep records of everything but keep them at home not on the school's system.

    The academic year is almost over now. Will this be the last year you teach this pupil?

    If so, the end is in sight.
  9. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I would (as well as listening to the advice above) speak to your Union, so they know the history of this. If the parent is writing lies about you on Facebook OR in letters to the school, this could be libel. I'd want to know how my union would support me if I decided to take out an action against the parent for libel... (I'm not suggesting that this should be done now, only that it has to be considered if the parent is so unhinged that they carry on or get worse...)
  10. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    Parental complaints make your life hell with poor SLT and often leads to capability. It's impossible to avoid as well in most state schools with poor behaviour etc. One of the reasons I left the state sector.
    lardylegs likes this.
  11. ThereAreBunniesInMyHead

    ThereAreBunniesInMyHead Occasional commenter

    Parents like that are exactly the reason why I keep meticulous records of any behaviour / attendance / poor work / bullying etc. So I can always prove on paper or via email etc that I have dealt with it in the way in which the school requires.

    I had a parent complain this year that his daughter (aged 16) had been given a mark of 0 for a small piece of written work that counted towards her coursework grade. Apparently she had told him that she didn't know it was due in and I hadn't reminded her. The parent tried to go to the head, copied loads of people in on the email etc. So I calm replied, copying all those people back in, attaching copies of the multiple detentions I had set her for failure to complete the work, copies of the phone log showing when I had called and left messages on the dad's mobile (he never answered, so I left messages), copies of emails showing the dates and messages I had sent to his email account asking him to remind her about the work (he never checked his emails), a copy of the letter I had sent home that term telling them clearly about the work that was overdue, and a screenshot of the EIGHT times I had sent her reminders about the work on the school's VLE. Strangely he didn't pursue his complaint after that! lol!

    Keep records of anything you do to intervene in situations like this. Make sure your union is informed so they can advise you too.
  12. geraldbeattie

    geraldbeattie New commenter

    I know that it can be hard, but try to understand that it isn't you. This parent is complaining about a teacher and not you personally Trixie. They would and will complain about any other member of staff who isn't jumping over backwards for their little boy who happens to be his teacher. Sounds like the Head is trying her best to smooth the waves and to keep you out of the firing line. The Head is probably supporting you by reducing the problem. By all means ask the Head how a meeting has gone and was anything agreed or discussed. Remember that there are other pupils in the class who need your attention and treat him exactly the same as them, rather than concentrating on him and his mother's opinions. As others have said in six weeks it will be all over. She may move him and someone else will be next years target.

    ROSIEGIRL Senior commenter

    I think we all come across parents like this now and again.

    The problem is hers, not yours.

    Try putting it into context. Let's make it simplistic. You've been teaching for 7 years, so if you're Primary, that would be 7 classes of approximately 30 kids. So that's over 200 sets of parents and there haven't been any problems like this.

    Some people have real issues and over a lifetime of teaching we all come across them. This mum has history. It's her, not you.

    Be sensible about protecting yourself - as others have said, keep records, keep talking to management and have a chat with your union for advice if you want to.

    But most of all, remember you haven't done anything wrong. And roll on summer holidays!
  14. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    How to develop a tougher skin? I am not sure it is possible, but I hope the reassuring words of most posters here will help. You have done all you can for this boy. From his mum's point of view, she is afraid that what happen3ed at the previous school will be repeated, so that is probably why she is lashing out in your direction. The important thing from your point of view is how your Head deals with this. I think she has to meet with the mother and listen to her complaints, but she should then back you up. You mentioned that she is talking about taking him out - I think that would be a good result from your point of view provided that the Head is clear that it is not your fault. That is the key thing - you have done your best and none of this is your fault.

    The advice about keeping records of anything to do with this is good, as is the advice to get your union alongside you now. It is likely that none of this will be necessary, but better to be safe. The union will also be able to advise you on whether you can or should do anything about the Facebook stuff.
  15. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    I agree that keeping a record is vital but the amount of time and energy it was taking to log so much every day was ridiculous all in case you end up ''on trial' by SLT.

    I was asked to send emails to a member of SLT once of times I tried to contact home about a really disruptive pupil once because their book was poor (they did no work, scribbles etc) so I found 5 emails where I did this plus emails to the head of year and HOD about it. Apparently that wasn't enough though - I should have rang home (which I did but the only contact number the school had was one that just rang out every time with no option to leave a messave) but I couldn't ''prove" that. Oh and because the Head of Year didn't reply to my emails twice about the kid I apparently should have gone to find him on my full timetable while he was on half a timetable with hand picked classes, knocked on his door with cap in my hand and begged him to do his job as the SLT member said 'he is a busy man.' obviously I was never busy being a mere teacher at the chalk face.

    It gets to a stage where you should probably carry around a recording device all day to log absolutely every move you make.
  16. the hippo

    the hippo Lead commenter Community helper

    I would agree with those who have already suggested that a paper trail is needed. Keep records of all communication with regard to this awkward parent and her child. Make double sure that you have followed the school's procedures and that you can show that you have done so.

    Yes, of course it is dreadful when a parent makes all kinds of false and hurtful allegations. Welcome to the club! The good news (and I know that it will only be cold comfort) is that parents do not hang around forever. Their children grow older and move on. Sometimes teachers need to move on as well, so try to find a better school if your SLT are not going to support you.
  17. Trixie1

    Trixie1 New commenter

    Hi, just wanted to say a big thank you to all of your advice and support. I am going to keep referring back to them when I need to....and also start counting down the days left having to deal with the situation.
    Thank you
    lardylegs, Piranha and SundaeTrifle like this.
  18. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I think exactly the same, but more too.
    It is clear from opening post that the HT has opportunity to steer how OP feels, and the fact of them not seeming supportive has allowed OP to achieve an easily imagined distortion of where they stand in this.
    So either the HT does n't want to be supportive (not good) or they don't know they need to because they do not know about the Facebook issue.
    In your shoes I'd approach HT and, not fond of this term, but "demand" to know what action they will be taking about this parent venting on social media.
    There ought to be a school policy, and usually it is designed to protect both the school and their staff from this sort of yacking. Maybe the HT is not aware.
    Present them with evidenceof what this parent is saying on FB and tell the HT that you want something done about it.
    Don't ask them. Tell them.
  19. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    In which case I'd bet anything his previous teacher was made to feel the same way you feel now. Doubtless his next teacher will too.

    Treat Facebook for what it actually is - an advertising platform where people draw attention to themselves for various reasons. It isn't real, nor will it ever be.

    Before Facebook they gossiped outside the school gates before home time. Now they just read the gossip on their phones outside the school gates at home time.

    That said, published untruths can be treated as libel, so union advice (and letting the HT know you're taking union advice) is a handy step to take.
  20. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Well I could say you ‘allow ‘ this parent to affect you in this way - not sure the exact meaning of ‘ pants ‘ ??
    grumpydogwoman likes this.

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