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perceptions from parents

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Nathalie2007, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. Nathalie2007

    Nathalie2007 New commenter

    So, something I have been trying to work on for several years is this idea of being 'strict' and standoffish. I have seriously been open-minded and willing at accept criticism and work on me (at times I feel I have been trying to change who I am as a person never mind as a teacher)
    I am now several years in to working in the same primary school and have just came from what felt like a character assassination meeting with the principal. Albeit he is totally supportive and wanting to help and pave next steps (I am so grateful for this as I know this may not be the case in many schools) I now feel I am banging my head against a brick wall. I also wonder how much is influenced by previous chat, not realizing I have changed and worked hard at it? I truly believe you can be a caring teacher without all the hugging business and honestly felt I had made headway this year, stating many times this has been a great start to the year, what an awesome 6 months. I have being expanding my behavior management knowledge (its not about using or raising your voice) speaking privately to students when needed.
    I have morning check ins, I could tell you about each of my students lives, push them as well as support them when they have needed it. Students come to me for help and when they need things explained. I am up to date on parent responses via email and have worked hard on 'chatting' more with parents at the end of the day, filling them in on how the day went. Any time something has happened I have held meetings with parents, both formal and informal as well as quick check ins in the corridors. I have mentioned many times I am only here for the students and parents as they need me, please use me. And yet once again have been accused of being standoffish and short. Even heard that parents are scared to approach me, eh!? me! I am more terrified of parents and yet head out every day with a smile and a wave and stood to chat about the goings on in the world. I clearly have this massive disconnect and feel a bit of a fool for being so naive. I truly care about each of my students and work my ass off, but I feel once again ****. Anyone have any experience, next steps suggestions? Am I failing students? Is it time to give up and do something else?
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I am standoffish and short. It's who I am.
    I am also intolerant and impatient.
    Luckily I have a head who wouldn't ever tell me to change (though gives strong hints and sometimes clear messages about how situations could have been handled better) and knows I am utterly professional with both pupils and parents.

    I'd not leave teaching, but ****** off to a better school.
  3. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    it is no one's business to change the person that you are. FGS don't go down this route! You will never never be the person your head wants you to be, and you will destroy yourself trying. Just accept that one of the many insane, stupid, ridiculous things about teaching is that people think they have the power and authority to critisise you as a human being They don't, just laugh it off if anyone makes you feel like that, then ignore.

    entirely subjective opinion, and so what if you are? nothing wrong with that!

    again, so what? it's thier problem, not yours. If they want to speak to a teacher, and for some stupid inane reason have decided that teacher is unapproachable, well, tough, they are adults. their options are get over it and approach the teacher anyway, or decide its not so important and leave it.

    See, this is what comes of letting someone get into your head like that, and try to tell you what sort of person to be. You end up just feeling bad, and as if you have done something wrong, or misjudged something, you have not.

    No experience of this particular line of personal critisism, but other managers have tried to reconstruct my character in other ways. I'm too bouncy/not lively enough, I am too "disassociated" and don't react with normal emotions to emotional situations../ not resilient enough. I do too much pastorally and get to involved/ I am not empathetic enough to some little **** in my tg, and so on and so on and so on.

    notice I can put these things in pairs of opposites! I'm sure most people on here could
  4. Nathalie2007

    Nathalie2007 New commenter

    dunnocks and caterpillartobutterfly, your responses have made me feel already more human again. I don't feel so alone! All I want to do is come to work, fly under the radar and go home!
    rachelpaula008 and dunnocks like this.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You mention a massive disconnect and I think you're right.

    It's all very well to say that you care and that you're there for parents if they need you but THEY have to FEEL it. You have to convey it through body language etc. And you do say you smile and wave so you're aware of that. But it's evidently not convincing all the people who need to be convinced.

    You need to feel more relaxed about it. Look at relaxation techniques.

    When you are close to people remember to breathe deeply and not too fast. Unclench your fists and let your tongue drop to the floor of your mouth. Listen actively. Drop your shoulders. When it's your turn to speak then take it slowly. Make sure your toes aren't curled up inside your shoes.

    OK, it's not natural to you. But neither is driving a car or using a mobile.

    You can definitely learn and improve. You've reached a plateau but do try the physical things I suggest. Try to release tension. You have so much going for you but you have just got stuck.
    rachelpaula008 likes this.
  6. Nathalie2007

    Nathalie2007 New commenter

    Thank you grumpydogwoman, all things i continue to try and apply...hoping one day it will work. I get so confused by mixed messages from students and parents. I've a feeling I am marmite! I will get onto exploring relaxation techniques.
    rachelpaula008 likes this.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You don't need to try and be anything other than who you are. You really don't. If you try, you'll just come across as fake and stressed.
    Obviously try hard not to be short with parents, but if you are occasionally then don't beat yourself up about it. And standoffish is often a negative way of saying shy!
    Relax and be who you are...you'll be happier that way and so parents will be thrilled.
  8. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I know how you feel. I was always 'take me as you find me' but then I ended up in Special School.

    There was no way those ASD kids could divine from my demeanour that I was a consummate professional who wanted to do her best for them. I was. But they couldn't tell. They needed much more explicit signals so I had to learn to be more expressive. Much more.

    It's a communication skill. If you're a Physics 'A' level teacher you can probably be somewhat remote and seemingly detached. It won't be an obstacle to learning.

    But I just saw it as a new skill. A string to my bow. I am naturally a stoical and undemonstrative person but that didn't work for my students so I had to learn something new. I'm the same person. I didn't change. I just acquired a new ability.
    phlogiston and sabrinakat like this.
  9. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    One of my colleagues at school is all about control. She has great classroom control (I wish mine were half as good) but it's an aggressive control (she bangs a ruler on the table to get quiet for example) and she has a real phobia about noise in the classroom. It's mostly heads down - work from a book - don't make a sound stuff.

    I've never seen a whole lesson but the odd bits I've seen - the atmosphere is very confrontational and the kids (even the very clever ones) hate her lessons. She is also very harsh on the kids and has little empathy with them. She also has no sense of humour whatsoever.

    She does very limited practical stuff because that would mean letting go a little and she really struggles with that. She isn't very good with parents either - if they don't see things from her point of view she can be short with them.

    She really needs some CPD on developing relationships in the classroom but would never accept there was a problem.

    She's a good teacher but her methods are not for me.
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Just don't see it as changing who you are. That isn't even possible.

    It's just learning something new. It could be dancing or Italian or astro-physics. You don't become Italian or a dancer or an astro-physicist but you can do it when it's required.
    chelsea2 likes this.
  11. install

    install Star commenter

    Stay just as you are - teachers need to have some distance. Better this way then being accused if being too friendly.

    People sadly play games and some HTs even join in with those games when it comes to personality assassination.
    bonxie, opalfeet, drek and 1 other person like this.
  12. digoryvenn

    digoryvenn Lead commenter

    I have had 'personality assination' too. It is not nice to say the least!
  13. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    It is not your job to be liked by students nor are you duty bound to like them. You are paid to teach your students in a professional manner without favouritism or prejudice. As for parents considering you hard to approach then that is their problem - are they using 'hard to approach' as another way of saying you stand your ground and won't be swayed or influenced to favour their little darlings? As for some children not liking you well just live with it. For every little so and so that claims to dislike you for their own particular reasons there will be far more who hold you in great esteem but don't want to appear uncool by professing their like for you to their friends. You are a teacher - continue to teach to your very highest standards knowing you are doing the best job you can and just forget about what others think.
  14. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    The thing that strikes me about this is who are these parents who supposedly find you difficult to approach? Is that every single parent, or is the majority or in fact one person? And how was this information come by - were they polled?? Keep on being you, you know that some people/parents have issues of their own with authority figures, and keep on teaching well because this is what you are employed to do.
  15. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    I'm not a fly on the wall so it's difficult to give an opinion or advice; what to one person may be professional behaviour may to another be thought of as 'distant' or 'not very approachable'. I think it's important to have a very professional approach to both pupils and parents and that necessitates a certain distance. You have to be able to praise the children but discipline them, too. You need to be respected. I think staff who are too casual or friendly with pupils or parents can store up problems for themselves and actually lose some of the children's respect.
    Some schools are more formal than others. You need to feel comfortable and supported in your working environment - it needs to reflect enough of your aspirations and values for you to be happy.
  16. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    But there are many kids who hate noisy classrooms and really can't work in them, for example, I've known kids with hearing problems etc who say they much prefer it when the teacher has control, as so many classes can just be chaos. I have to admit I hadn't thought about this much and liked the idea of 'friendly, lively' classes until I learned how some of these kids felt.
    drek and sabrinakat like this.
  17. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Also lots of parents wouldn't even recognise their kids' teachers and lots I know wouldn't have time to give feedback at the end of the day.
    frangipani123 likes this.
  18. sjk17

    sjk17 New commenter

    I had a similar situation some years ago at a school where I was given constant feedback by my head about how people felt they couldn't approach me (parents, other teachers, TAs etc.) It's only now, a few years down the line, that I realise that it was different. There was no problem with parents or other people, the problem was one that he had with me. He was chipping away at me constantly. Nothing I could do was right as I wasn't one of his chosen few. It's probably nothing to do with you at all. I am a deputy now and I am very good at my job but still remain a little standoffish and distant with parents. My current boss knows this and if parents say something she just says, that's the way he is.
  19. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    There are many ways of looking at this.
    Heads tend to get feedback from only a few parents, usually those from the intelligence and behavioural extremes. Most haven't got time to interact with many parents and have their own agenda when they do.
    I am guessing that you have found a way of working with the children that works for you, and sound professional from your description.
    Parents can be harder to win over. Always try to start off with something positive when you talk about their child, and even if there isn't much positive find ways to talk about how you are supporting them in their raising of their child and the maturation journey.
    frangipani123 likes this.
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I am clearly a lone voice here. I worked in local authority schools and was paid from the public purse. Consequently I was a public servant.

    If a student insists that we take them as we find them and they are not willing to develop social skills? How do we react? They argue that they are an excellent mathematician/artist/linguist so we must be content with that. I will tell them that this is not sufficient. No matter what their talents they ought to understand that soft skills are important. It is a talent all of its own - to put people at their ease. It may not come readily to some of us but we should not shy away from it. Call it professional development.

    I used to be that autocrat, that teacher who thought everyone must accept me and my aloofness. You catch a lot more flies with honey. It isn't a betrayal of your character and temperament. It is a string to your bow. If the pupils are required to learn to smile, to listen, to be respectful then it's hypocritical to suggest that we don't need to follow suit.
    1 person likes this.

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