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perceptions from parents

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

  1. Urbanfaerie

    Urbanfaerie Occasional commenter

    Have they given you examples of the things they think you need to change? If all they've told you is that parents are scared to speak to you, that doesn't actually give you anything to work with. Some parents will be scared to speak to teachers because they had experiences during their own school days.
  2. FriarLawrence

    FriarLawrence Occasional commenter

    I'm going to come down in the middle here. I do think that developing relationships and communication skills is important, and 9 times out of 10, when I've come across a teacher who is having issues with their classroom practice, it's down to this. The kids don't have to think you love them, but they have to think you care, that you're competent and knowledgeable, and that you have lines which they will not - will NOT - cross on pain of seriously inconveniencing themselves.

    I'm certainly not a "strict" teacher in the sense that I don't shout (pretty much ever) or rely on detentions or sendings out. My behaviour management is damn effective, but that's experience more than anything else, and is rooted in the fact that the kids tend to trust me to teach them well. The one absolute for me is that no matter how positive and encouraging I am, I am certainly NOT their mate.

    But I have colleagues who are plenty strict, and plenty scary, and who the kids respect the hell out of to the point of adoration. It's perfectly possible to have amazing relationships with kids while still putting the fear of god into them. Sometimes I wish I could be more like that.

    So in short, if you feel your relationships with the kids are good, don't change. If you feel you're teaching them effectively, don't change. It's not your job to be a fluffy bunny - but sometimes as @grumpydogwoman says - developing your skills of communication and empathy is never time wasted.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    The OP is really struggling with this and has asked for help. It must be awful to feel "terrified" of the parents. The HT clearly values the OP and is trying to be helpful and the OP is appreciative of that.

    This isn't the post of a standoffish person at all. It's a person who cares and wishes people could understand that. The OP knows it's all about perceptions and that what the parents think they see isn't a true reflection of how the OP really feels about the pupils.

    Terror is a terrible burden to bear. The OP is actually frightened in social situations. No wonder s/he's not coming across as well as s/he might. Yes, it's mortifying when we feel we've been character-assassinated. The OP is evidently a very sensitive person who worries about these things.

    If the OP were contented in him/herself and satisfied with the status quo then s/he wouldn't have asked for advice. The OP doesn't want to feel this way. Awkward and ill at ease. I don't think it's helpful to advise him/her to do nothing. That's not working brilliantly.

    I'm not suggesting a personality transplant.
  4. Nathalie2007

    Nathalie2007 New commenter

    Dear all,

    Thank you so much for all comments experiences and thoughts. The last few days have been pretty rough but comments here have made me feel like I am not alone.

    I really appreciate all comments. I have always been one with a plan and albeit these comments completely took the wind out of my sails I believe I
  5. Nathalie2007

    Nathalie2007 New commenter

    Dear all,

    Thank you so much for all comments experiences and thoughts. The last few days have been pretty rough but comments here have made me feel like I am not alone.

    I really appreciate all comments. I have always been one with a plan and albeit these comments completely took the wind out of my sails I believe I can bounce back. I've not done anything bad!

    The commentator who mentioned being shy. You hit the nail on the head. Shy and an over thinker! ! Not the best traits for this job!!

    It's Christmas. Nothing can change until next year. But thank you so much for comments. It's been awesome to read different ideas and view points.

    Thank you.
  6. opalfeet

    opalfeet Occasional commenter

    Have to say I agree with caterpillar and Dunnocks here.

    I think that we should be able to keep our personalities without having to be false and gushing.

    Students have always found me a 'bit scary', I am not overly friendly. I like to think I am polite and respectful, although I still believe I have the authority to tell students what to do and I should not have to pander to them.

    Sometimes students don't like that at the time, sometimes they go home and tell their parents they are being picked on.

    However, over time I have found that students learn that I genuinely care about them. I think it is called tough love. Students often don't like me at first but over time they develop an understanding and some even decide I am their favourite teacher. I have had many students voice their opinions and tell me that they really appreciate that I have been strict or tough. I believe parenting styles used to be like this too. I like to think I am authoritative, rather than authoritarian.

    However, I think I have let myself down by trying to change due to being in a different environment where students are pandered too. Personally, don't think it has worked- it actually makes me feel stressed. I think I am a worse teacher for it and I don't believe my relationships with students are any better.

    So thanks to @caterpillartobutterfly and @dunnocks you have helped me reflect on this.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I think this is very possibly the situation the OP is in.

    They are now stressed and worrying about the way they are perceived by parents, when actually they are clearly a very decent and caring teacher (we can see this from the list of extras offered by the OP and listed in one of their posts). In a great many schools the OP would be being praised for their clear, no-nonsense personality and supported with the shyness when it stops them being effective.

    A different school where the head is more supportive of the various characteristics of their staff would probably work wonders.
    opalfeet likes this.
  8. opalfeet

    opalfeet Occasional commenter

    I disagree. I like teaching because there are so many different characters. I expect students to be polite, respectful to others and to not disrupt lessons. Beyond this I do accept them as they are; some students never smile, some are shy, some are aloof, some are funny, some are outspoken. This all makes for an interesting classroom and it is what makes the classroom and the world a more interesting place.

    And I haven't caught more flies this way... at all. In fact I find that students try and exploit the situation when I try and change how I am- perhaps, because it is false and it simply isn't me
    Effiepie likes this.
  9. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I suppose I should consider mysely very lucky then that I have always been able to develop good working relationships with the vast majority of my pupils and got on very well with their parents too.
  10. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I'm not a teacher but was accused of being 'difficult' by a collegue in a different situation. I was somewhat puzzled by this until I remembered an incident where I had challanged what her co-worker (they were both agency staff) had told me, as it was blatantly untrue. I'm pretty bloody-minded and just stood my ground. What he was saying was ridiculous, but he was hoping to manipulate me into doing what he wanted by lying to me. When I brought this to the attention of the person who'd said I was 'difficult' and the more senior person we were with, she basically crumbled. She 'left' shortly afterwards even though her employer didn't have a replacement for her.

    What I took from this is that there are some people who will say anything to try and get you to behave in the way they want, even if that's not a good way to behave, because it suits whatever their agenda is. It sounds to me like you're doing a cracking job, with a good balance of friendliness and professionalism. I suspect your head has had her ear bent by a disgruntled parent, perhaps one you disagreed with (I expect, because they were wrong!) and your head is too spineless to disagree with them herself, so has attacked you instead.

    When did we end up in this awful place where everyone has to be the same, and be whatever is considered PC at the time? I get fed up of people trying to hug me all the time. It's just not me. I like hugging people I know well, but not every soul that crosses my path. But this is considered unreasoanble by the brigade who want to hug everyone. You're also supposed to be on facebook, watch the X-factor, etc, etc, and are 'weird' if you don't. The best teacher I ever had was a right old g it.
    sally90 likes this.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Blimey O'Reilly, once people know you're kind-hearted and well-ontentioned you can be as brusque as you like. People will have got to know you.

    But the parents don't know us. For them first impressions are very important. Some of them may have had a bad time at school. Very few are actually relishing a confrontation with the teacher. They come across as stroppy because they're nervous!

    In over 30 years I can count the truly bolshie parents in single digits. Maybe 2 individuals. And one of them was more anxious about her son than wanting to have a pop at me - if I really think about it. And I taught in some extremely "interesting" schools. Very interesting indeed.

    It's a people-facing job. How you are with kids who know you is one thing. That relationship develops and they have come to know they can trust you. But parents are adults. They don't deserve to be taken for trouble-makers or stirrers. Nor does every teacher know best. The adults are on your turf and they do want the best for their kids even if they don't know how to go about it.

    You don't have to hug people. That is not the opposite of being stand-offish. You can show some genuine warmth and compassion without being a wimp or hugging anyone.

    Who are these people who want to hug everyone? I don't know them. If I've a right to be more detached then they have a right to be more empathic. That's up to them. They don't need to be derided any more than someone more reserved deserves to be excoriated for that!
  12. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I've had two or three very difficult PE interviews in almost 20 years - not bad really.

    One was a girl whose name I just couldn't remember, one was a bad tempered oaf of a man who wouldn't accept his child wasn't perfect and the other one was a poor little girl whose parents had recently separated and who unwisely decided to both attend the PE. The girl sat in the middle - her parents sat about 10 feet apart from each other and wouldn't acknowledge each other or make any eye contact - it was awful.
  13. opalfeet

    opalfeet Occasional commenter


    Well then it seems we interpreted the op very differently as it appears that she is clearly interacting with parents in a polite and respectful way- unless of course the op is lying.

    @peakster you may be lucky. I have spoken to many angry and awkward parents in my short career- many who have listened to their dear darling's story who have prepped them prior to parents meetings and phone call conversations. This ultimately ends in me having to pacify the parent (some successfully and some less so) and try to get them to understand that ultimately we both have their child's best interests at heart.

    I have spoken to three very aggressive parents- if that is what you mean by difficult.

    To this day, I am not prepared to accept responsibility for the way in which I was spoken to. There are ways of speaking to parents, sure. However, some parents are anti- schools and anti-teachers and will not hear a negative word against their little darling students- it's not their child, so it must be the teacher. This leads to their anger being directed at the teacher.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2016
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I hope I have never suggested the OP was impolite or disrespectful. It was certainly not my intention to do so. The OP has an excellent attitude and awareness that there may be tweaks or improvements to be made and willing to adapt.

    I was surprised though by the number of respondents who seem to regard it as a badge of honour that they have maintained a somewhat haughty attitude to parents and students throughout their career and have never even considered the effect their demeanour my have had on those parents who have arrived in some trepidation.

    My way or the highway. If you're that inflexible about interactions with parents then how hard do you work on developing other aspects of the job?

    I think I see my responsibility to the parents and wider public in a different way.

    Here's hoping the OP can feel comfortable in the workplace and continue to make a valuable contribution.

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