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Student keeps complaining about me - but I don't know why

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MrsFBrown, Mar 7, 2012.

  1. Hi,
    Just want to get some opinions on this.
    <address>I'm currently working in a school on a maternity contract. As I started halfway through the year not all my classes have been happy to lose their old teacher. Within my first few days a parent went to the SLT and complained that their child was not being stretched enough. (I was teaching an "easier" topic than the previous term's). My HOD told me to push them a bit harder, which I did. Within a week the student (or parent. Not sure which) went back to the SLT member and complained that I was now giving them too much homework. HOD then told me to pull back again. Which again I did. Last week it was parents evening. Said student arrived for appointment with both parents in tow. Had a very pleasant conversation with all three of them. I made a specific point of asking all three of them if they had any worries etc about my subject/class. All of them said no. However .... yesterday my HOD told me that the same parent has now emailed SLT again (this is the 3rd complaint from the same parent in 6 weeks) to say that I was very negative about the course I'm teaching at the parents' evening. I have no idea what is being referred to, yet once again I find I'm being "investigated" - i.e. asked in detail what I said to the parent and being observed in the next lesson with the class (this is what happened each time before).</address><address></address><address>I feel I've stumbled into bizarre Kafkaesque situation. Has anyone any ideas on what to do? I'm beginning to feel that this student just plain dislikes me for some bizarre reason. However, the SLT and HOD seem to take it all so seriously it is damaging my self-esteem.</address><address></address><address>Thanks</address>
     
  2. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    1. Demand (don't ask, demand) to see the evidence, ie. the email.
    2. Go straight to the head and
    The HoD and the rest of them are paid to support you. It's high time they did that.
     
  3. I agree about demanding copies of said emails. If they are not forth-coming call your union and have them get hold of them. There could be any number of things happening here, but from the info you provide I would say it is most likely to be the HOD not wanting you or the parents/ child not wanting you. It may be an idea to discuss your situation with your union or even give the Teacher Support Line a call - they can provide excellent advice. Keep smiling & I know it isn;t easy, but try not to let it get you down.
     
  4. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Don't know where that "and" came from. Maybe I should proof-read posts before pressing "send".
    As far as I'm concerned, unless you actually see evidence of a parental complaint, it doesn't exist. The HoD and SLT (nice, vague, faceless collective) are actually undermining you. Tell them to put up or shut up.
     
  5. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    Taking over mid-year last year, I had one set of parents who initially seemed to contacting me/HoD every week over homework being too easy or too hard. Fortunately my HoD was very supportive. I suspect the parents were aware that it is not always easy to replace a teacher mid-year, and were worried about whether I was any good. I think they realised reasonably quickly that their child was in safe hands.
    Sometimes a parent has a concern which can quickly be allayed by management checking things out and responding to reassure them. Unfortunately that often seems to be turned into a complaint which management want to be seen to be acting on.
     
  6. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    A very good point, and it depends sometimes on the integrity and standpoint of the member of the managment team, but please remember that they are there to support the staff.
     
  7. Hello everybody and thanks for your support. I took your advice and insisted on seeing the complaining emails. I thought they were very spiteful and personal. I had to insist on my HOD having the parent in.
    When the parent turned up it got even more bizarre. Tried to convince HOD that I was not controlling class even though HOD has been in at least 10 times in 6 weeks,. Parent then stated that class behaved differently when another teacher came in. Parent said I had given the pupils a task and that their child wasn't sure what to do. I pointed out that they should have asked if they didn't know. HOD pointed out that pupil is at stage (GCSE) where must exercise some indepenent thinking. Parent also said they were very disappointed with me because I had previously stated to them that it was a "nice class" (they are implying that it is not). I felt quite angry on my class's behalf as parent was making derogatory comments about them based on feedback.
    We brought the pupil into join the discussion and it appears that they are having a difficult time adjusting to change from old teacher. Parent does not seem to recognise this and believes it is my fault. Also, we have changed from KS3 to GCSE work with resulting change of focus. Parent complained that I haven't told the pupils what KS3 levels they shoudl be aiming for even though I explained twice that we are no longer on KS3 and are working towards GCSE criteria. I have a completely different teachng style to old teacher who made them sit there in silence whereas I try to get to them to talk to each other and learn from each other in modern "OFSTED" style. Parent seems to believe this means the class is out of control.
    Turns out parent is head of a small nursery school and apparently believes this gives then insight into how my class should be run and is trying to do so third-hand.
    I am extremely angry at how this parent has been vindictively emailing SLT complaining about me based on her child's stories. The child is bright but very reserved and apparently needs to be given lots of instructions in order to feel safe. HOD has said to me that it is obviously the family's problem but they don't recognise it. However, SLT will take parent's view as gospel.
    I really don't know what to do. I have taught at brilliant schools and have had fantastic references from them but now I feel this is going to ruin my career. What protection do teachers have against this type of character assassination?
    At my wits end.
     
  8. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Let's break this down:
    So this parent knows all this for a fact, despite never having been in your lesson and having no right to be there either, but simply believes whatever her precious little brat says.
    The child is really going to do well in the real world.
    You've every right to feel angry. Perhaps it's time the parents of the rest of the class knew about this particular mother's insults to their children.
    So this parent is so utterly thick that she hasn't worked out that her precious little cherub is actually out of key stage 3 and in year 10. Perhaps, emotionally, the child - like her mother - is still in the pre-nursery stage.
    Of course it is. Rather than blame themselves for their many shortcomings and inadequacies, they find it easier to blame you.
    If you're in a union, seek advice. After all, an email communication does not protect its author for charges of defamation and libel.
    Oh the poor lamb, and with a mother like that, no wonder.
    Sheer cowardice and completely dishonest. Does the L in SLT stand for lame or lazy?
    It is bad enough when a numbskull of a parent behaves like this, but a stop can be put to it by a strong leadership, not the excuse for leadership that you have. Consult your union. There's nothing wrong with your teaching and plenty wrong with your SLT. You deserve better than this.

     

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