It is only the naïve new teachers that really think that parents will be on their side. They make the mistake of using logic in their thinking. They believe that parents will want what is best for their children and will help the teacher improve their child’s academic performance. Yet they fail to take into account a number of factors. First of all, parents are not cut from the same cloth and sadly, not all of them care about their child’s school activities. Then you have the whole ‘parents protecting their young’ issue which is not only confined to the animal kingdom. Here are a couple of different scenarios and tips on how to deal with them.
You will have the parents that are defensive and refuse to believe that their child is responsible for any ill behavior. They explain that their son/daughter is an angel at home and that you must have some sort of agenda, that perhaps you are jealous of their child and are out to get them. When dealing with such people, it is important not to allow emotions to get involved. Instead, explain to them specific examples of their child’s poor behavior/performance and let them come to their own conclusions. Even though you like having your own teaching style, when it comes to parents you must always follow the school line, so refer to their child’s grades and rules as policies.
Then you will have the parent who is forever checking up on their child’s progress. They harass you with calls, bombard you with emails and generally, take up far too much of your time. The problem is, the more you give in to their demands on your time, the more they will expect off you. Remember that you have many other students to deal with who also need and deserve your attention. With this in mind, keep your responses to a minimum and ensure that they are short and succinct. You are obligated to keep in touch with them but once a week is more than enough. Always save your correspondence too so that you have it on record that you spent plenty of time discussing their child with them in case they want to complain.
Unfortunately, you also have the parents who just don’t give a damn for one reason or another. It is normally these parents who are the ones you need to talk to the most. If a child is being neglected at home, then their academic performance usually suffers. You cannot get involved in domestic affairs and all you can do is send them a letter which you should document. Of course if you feel that the child is being abused at home then you need to seek advice. Otherwise though, parent absenteeism has nothing to do with you.
Teachers who once thought meetings with parents would be a bed of roses learn to dread them. However, they can still be a very useful way of ensuring that your class is keeping up to speed as good parents will be very concerned with their children’s performance. Such parents can be a pleasure to deal with and could even give new insights into the student that may help you understand them better.