Harassing Parents

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by applefanatic, Nov 13, 2010.

  1. applefanatic

    applefanatic New Member

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    Nov 13, 2010

    The parents at my school write constantly and harass us, demanding answers.

    The principal never says "enough."

    Today, I sat for one hour until I started to cry and had to listen to a mom and dad tell me off repeatedly as the principal did NOTHING.
     
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  3. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Nov 13, 2010

    That is slowly becoming the trend in education. Principals are very overwhelmed and do not want the parents going to the super about these concerns, so they either just listen or they also cave in to the wishes of the parents.

    My suggestion, inform your principal of the situation prior to the meeting and refer some of the emails directly to the principal. I started doing this and my principal became a lot more supportive with one of my parents.
     
  4. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Nov 13, 2010

    How horribly frustrating. What would happen if you spoke up for yourself during these meetings? Would your principal correct you or allow you to do it?
     
  5. Reality Check

    Reality Check Habitué

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    Nov 13, 2010

    I would suggest you start sticking up for yourself at meetings like that one. You're not a human punching bag and people like to hide behind this, "Well, you're the professional" cliche'. Yeah, you're the professional alright, but you're a human being first and foremost and that doesn't include being on the receiving end of abuse.

    I recently had to attend an I.E.P. meeting in which the student, sitting next to her mother, was upset with the teacher of one particular class. Apparently, the girl has serious mental issues. Well, she accused the teacher of "threatening her." The student was then asked to describe the nature of the threat. She responded, "Well, she told me that if I didn't complete my classwork, I would fail." A different teacher of hers then spoke up to the student and said, "You know, I didn't write a referral when you threaten me in the hallway." The girl got a quizzical look on her face as if to say, "What threat?" The teacher continued, "When you said to me, 'That's how teachers get shot.'" The girl and the mother were outraged that the teacher considered that a threat. The assistant principal sat there and said nothing. I felt it was her opportunity to say something along the lines of, "I would've encouraged Ms. So-and-So to write that up as a disciplinary issue." But, nothing. I could get paid the $98K that assistant principal is getting and say nothing.

    If nothing else, and I have done this myself so I'm not offering any advice I haven't used personally, once the abuse starts, simply gather your things, stand up, and say, "This meeting is over." and leave. If your principal or assistant principal is in attendance and asks you later why you did this, tell him/her/it what you expected out of them.
     
  6. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    Nov 13, 2010

    I can relate! I received an email form my principal before I left work yesterday saying that I needed to upload my grades more than the required every two weeks because parents are complaining. Most of the parents that are complaining are helicopter parents that check the online grade system multiple times daily. So I guess I will start try to upload at least once a week. But some weeks that is just not possible. :(
     
  7. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Stick with your contract and involve your union. Oftentimes a union member is willing to attend these meetings and stick up for you even if your admin is not.

    About updating grades, ask your union what is expected and have them talk with the principal about this. You do not have to go above and beyond your contract.
     
  8. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Nov 13, 2010

    Harassing parents?

    Yes, I do it all the time. I harass them to get their kids to come to school and do their homework.

    Many of them are grateful to me for it.
     
  9. beccmo

    beccmo Comrade

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    Nov 14, 2010

    I am soooo looking forward to conferences this year since I know there are such parents coming in to see me. I have been forewarned by the SpEd. teachers of one who will berate, trying to get you to change everything you do so his child will have to do nothing to get an A. It irked me when this teacher came and asked that I totally modify all my tests for this student, including no essay questions (ironically our last inservice was about the value of using such questions). I am already following this student's IEP. It almost felt as if he wanted me to give this student only multiple choice questions with one or 2 choices for answers. Seems dad was already on his back about my class. So my answer to this teacher was "Sorry, but no."
     
  10. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    Nov 14, 2010

    I guess this thread bothers me because I don't think parents worrying about their child or writing notes is harassment. I have a parent that at the first parent teacher conference had sent over 20 notes. I never thought they were harassing me...they were just concerned aobut their child.
     
  11. webmistress

    webmistress Devotee

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    Nov 14, 2010

    :yeahthat:
     
  12. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    Nov 14, 2010

    You'll notice that the OP is a high school teacher. When you have over 150 students each day, just trying to keep track of the grades is a big challenge. If parents add pressure on behalf of their children--who at this point should be expected to advocate for themselves at least some of the time--it becomes onerous.
     
  13. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Nov 14, 2010

    I've taught both high school and primary grades. With primary grades, yes, most teacher contact that parents initiate comes from a genuine concern that a normal parent might have for their child.

    With high school it's different. There's a lot more "My daughter needs an A to get into Berkeley", "Why did you give my son a D, now he can't play football."
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 14, 2010

    You should not subject yourself to meetings where you get laid into for an hour. If you're unable to stand up for yourself, then you need to excuse yourself. An "I'm sorry, I have another appointment at this time. I'll have to get going now" can go a long way towards preserving your sanity and emotional health.
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Nov 14, 2010

    The OP didn't say that parents writing notes or worrying about their child were harassing the teacher. I think we all agree that those behaviors are typical, or at least ideal, parent behaviors.

    As others have said, parents of high school students aren't always just expressing concern over their child's performance. Very often they are demanding answers and explanations for why their child is failing or got written up, even though the evidence for those things is clearly presented on online grading websites or on the referral form which the parent received.

    I have encountered parents who demand daily contact in the form of phone calls so that they can be made aware of their child's performance. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to call a parent every single day. They can get a weekly or bi-weekly report if they want, but that's the extent of it. I have nearly 250 students and I simply do not have time to be making those sorts of phone calls with that frequency.

    I've personally been present in parent conferences where the parent stood up over me, leaned down towards me, pointed his finger in my face, and shouted at me. I've been called a liar, point blank, in a parent conference by a parent. I've been sworn at and accused of all sorts of colorful behaviors, all untrue and unfounded. I don't deserve that treatment. I expect my admin to support me on that and to not allow parents to continue to treat me that way. Thankfully my admin is good about that stuff and has refused parents access to me when the situation called for that.
     
  16. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Nov 14, 2010

    I'm sorry that happened. Having a concern--even one that is 100% warranted and in need of advocating for their child--still needs to be done respectfully and with a principal either mediating or keeping it pleasant.

    In situations like that I always feel powerless because I get so mad I know if I speak I will cry. Hugs to you.
     
  17. wrice

    wrice Habitué

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    Nov 17, 2010

    Sorry for your situation.

    In difficult conversations, I try to steer the course so that facts and unbiased observations are emphasized over accusations and blame, goals and moving forward are emphasized over history and he-said-she-said, and that a basic tone of care, support, and collaboration are emphasized over antagonism. Repeatedly try to stick to these basics, no matter what emotions and name calling the parents might throw out, and if they continue to be irrational, relist your facts, goals, and methods of support, and excuse yourself from the conference.

    If the principal isn't helpful, sometimes colleagues who also teach the student in question can be more supportive in a difficult conference.
    Good luck!
     

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