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Resolved a difficult situation with a parent? I’d like to hear from you.

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by classroomtwentyfive, Dec 31, 2019.

  1. classroomtwentyfive

    classroomtwentyfive New commenter

    Has anyone got any interesting parents evening/ parent communication problem stories to share? Or any tips on how they resolved problems with a parent?

    I’m looking to put together an article to support trainee teachers early on in their career, any stories or ideas to help deal with difficult situations would be fantastic.
  2. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    Bets advice I can offer:

    • Never fear to refer complaints/questions to the most appropriate person, even/especially if that is 'up the chain'; many parents are glad to feel that their complaint is being taken seriously; so send them to the Head of Department/Head of Year/Deputy Head as necessary.
    • Don't overrun the allotted time and make them/yourself late for the next appointment.
  3. lynne33

    lynne33 New commenter

    Any email complaints should be dealt with in person, with a more senior member of staff leading the meeting. Emails can be aggressive and it's easier to resolve issues face to face.
  4. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    always be grateful a parent is involved and interested, and always thank them for that, always reassure them you are glad they are an invested parent, and that children with invested parents always do better, and you are all on the same side.

    Say this even if you have just turned down a request, or found against them in a complaint
    CheeseMongler, tb9605 and Pomza like this.
  5. diddydave

    diddydave Established commenter

    As a Head of Year I had numerous difficult conversations with parents and I found that most of the time they needed someone to listen to them. Quite often I would listen and then repeat back to them what they had told me and ask them to confirm that I had understood correctly what the problem was. I found this technique worked well and reassured them that I had taken in what they had said. We would then discuss the issue and plan a course of action.
    tb9605, Pomza and Morninglover like this.
  6. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    @diddydave offers good advice above. People who complain to anyone ganerally just want to feel listened to. Even if their complaint is ludicrous, they generally leave happy if they feel someone has given them some airtime.

    • Always Invite in for a talk - it gives the impression they’re being taken seriously.
    • Make eye contact and nod while they’re talking, occasionally offering an appropriate facial expression - even if you’re really thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner, it makes people feel listened too.
    • Tell them you understand how they feel.
    • Send a quick email/letter after a meeting, thanking them for making the time to see you - even if you really feel it was the other way round.
    • Ignore stupid advice about not returning emails and calls and insisting somebody else deal with a situation for you - it makes you appear disinterested, incompetent, rude and incapable of behaving like an adult, and will always further antagonise an already annoyed person.
    • If you can do something for someone that doesn’t adversely affect anyone else (including yourself), then why not do it...?
  7. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    The job of a teacher is to teach children, not to give counselling to parents.

    I'd suggest that this post includes a list of almost everything that's wrong with schools and education today. Any teacher would do well to lake a note of all these points - and vow to ignore every one.
    Robak1991 likes this.
  8. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    Meanwhile, here in the real world, teachers do have to meet with parents who are sometimes difficult. It’s far better to invest 15 mins here and there, in order to maintain good relationships and get parents ‘on-side’, it’ll make a teacher’s life far easier in the long run.

    Teachers who are incapable of doing this, tend to be the ones who antagonise parents and leave colleagues to clear-up their mess. They then wonder why their HTs aren’t exactly thrilled by their performance...
    Mandela2, Flanks and tb9605 like this.
  9. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    Not at all - in the real world (which is where I certainly spent my career) the best thing to do is to refer problem parents to those paid (and given time) to deal with them.
  10. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    Indeed. However, children do not exist in a vacuum. Often conversations with parents are enlightening and leads to teachers being more effective as they better understand their students. Furthermore, if such meetings clear the air and lead to a positive view on the part of the parents, then it'll probably lead to the children having better attendance, better behaviour, higher rates of engagement, etc.

    Meeting parents is part of the teachers' toolkit - not a tool everyone has to use, but it's ridiculous to look down on those teachers who choose to use it.
    Mandela2, Pomza and Flanks like this.
  11. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    You must be an absolute delight as a colleague...
    Pomza likes this.
  12. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    Working on the pastoral side in the independent sector I was initially shocked to be asked for parenting advice, on occasions by parents older than I was at the time; found it embarrassing as well, but later realised that my advice was valued. I still have a sense of imposter syndrome.....
    Pomza likes this.
  13. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    I think we all do!
  14. Morninglover

    Morninglover Lead commenter

    I worked as a classroom teacher, a Head of Department, a Head of Faculty, a Head of Year, an Assistant Head and a Deputy Head over the 30+ years I was teaching (not all at the same time!). As far as I can tell I was popular with both colleagues and SLT - though as in any workplace, there were always some one got on better with than others.

    I was also popular with many of my students, especially those taking examinations as I was always able to go the extra mile to help them (something helped by not wasting time on awkward parents with frivolous complaints). When in SLT I was always happy to deal with such complaints, allowing classroom teachers to concentrate on their teaching. THAT made me popular with them, I can tell you.
  15. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    Ha, sounds exactly like what my ex-husband and I did in the room we signed our divorce papers! :)
    Robak1991 likes this.
  16. Robak1991

    Robak1991 New commenter

    I wanted to ask question about parents.

    I am getting really annoyed with the sense of entitlement that some parents have. They think they are schools customers and customer is always right.

    Having said that I understand what was mentioned before that some parents are just 'invested' or in other words are trying to micromanage teachers which is getting on my nerves.

    How to get over this? I had enough of parents giving me advice eg change the seating plan so that their child is happy. Just if you haven't noticed I teach quite a lot of students and it is not only your child.

    Is anyone else annoyed with this 'customer is always right' approach by schools?

    When have we lost sight of the main objective which is giving students the best education we can?

    I will hear voices now that parents are important part of childs life and so on. I want to akcnowledge that some parents do offer important insight and have some fair points however I don't understand why we have to please them all the time?

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