How comfortable are you..

Discussion in 'General Education' started by 2ndTimeAround, Jul 5, 2014.

  1. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Jul 5, 2014

    telling a parent "no."

    With little explanation, no "I'm sorry, but..." just a flat out "no"?


    On my class rolls for next year I have three students with very demanding mothers. One mother I've had before, meaning I've taught her other child. The other two mothers I know from outside of school and I've seen them in action. All three are the type to keep screaming until they get their way. And scream as loudly as they can, to whomever they can.

    I typically explain my policies before anything becomes an issue. If an exception arises I have no problem with students and/or parents calling my attention to a situation. But I don't believe for an instant that I am in the customer service business and that I need to make everyone happy. I'm getting much better at telling people "no." Fortunately, my administration will usually back up the teachers.

    How about you?
     
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  3. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    I have 150+ kids a year. I don't have time to deal with attitudes- I get enough of that from their kids! :p I have problem saying no. If a parent continues to push and gets nasty, I tell them "I'm sorry, but I no longer feel comfortable discussing this with you" and forward the whole mess to my department chair. I've only had to do that twice in 4 years, but I'm glad I have her to lay the smackdown.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I have no trouble saying no. Unfortunately, I know that admin probably won't back me up, so I don't bother saying it.
     
  5. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    that's good to hear HIstory. I'm assuming your administration is good with support.

    I've had a couple of problems where I didn't get full support. And it was because other teachers got involved :( I have a colleague that never seems to get any support when it comes to parents. I don't know all the sides to the stories, of course, but hearing the kids admit what they've done (and not done) makes me support my friend's side.

    One time that admin overruled my "no" happened several years ago when I was a new teacher. I had a student that refused to do any homework for my class. She was on the volleyball team and would claim that volleyball was keeping her from doing it. As a result she wasn't doing so well in class (chemistry - you have to practice those word problems!). Well, she and a few others bombed a test. I offered a retake of the test but only if the students came to one of two reteaching sessions after school. None of the students had transportation issues. Suzy said she couldn't attend either session because of practice (not a valid excuse in our school which I explained to her). When she didn't get to retake the test she whined to her coach who whined to the asst. principal. Her mother whined to admin as well. He in turn insisted that I allow her a chance to retake the test since she was working "so hard" and "represented the school on court." Uggh.
     
  6. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I don't ever tell parents no without explanation. If they ask me something, I'll explain my thinking. It makes my life easier if I can get parents to understand my thinking, and I'm not so overloaded with parent questions that it gets overwhelming. If parents keep "giving me guff" after I've explained myself, I forward it to an administrator, who will generally support me.
     
  7. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I like the phrase "That won't be possible", repeated like a broken record, instead of "no". And I have no problem saying either.
     
  8. monsieurteacher

    monsieurteacher Aficionado

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    I generally give a reason with my no, but then stay firm.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    'A flat out no' isn't really my communication style. I don't apologize, nor is telling someone 'no' uncomfortable for me, but I do make it clear that I've heard them and then I clearly communicate how whatever issue will be handled.
     
  10. mathteachertobe

    mathteachertobe Cohort

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    I am also someone who explains the reasoning behind my decisions and policies. I have a lot of students, but parents only try to intervene for them a few times a year. Almost always, the parent acknowledges that the student told them the answer was going to be no. I simply don't modify policies mid-year, as it's an issue of fairness.
     
  11. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I don't communicate that bluntly with parents. I still say phrases that mean 'no' but my experiences in the service industry have taught me to speak as politely and empathetically as possible to parents, and let them know that I'm on their side, even when I have strict boundaries.

    It takes very little effort on my part (I can repeat myself like a broken record if I have to), but the dividends of a supportive parent are immense.

    My policies are already all laid out in my syllabus, so I will pull that out and stick to my guns firmly, but definitely politely.
     
  12. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    This is what I do as well. I know, without a doubt, that my administrators will be in my court, but they do expect me to be able to communicate the reasons behind my decisions.
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    I generally go with "Unfortunately, that's against my/the school's policy," and point them to where said policy can be found.

    They can get as loud as they want, but as long as it is in writing and accessible to parents, my admin backs me up.
     
  14. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    here's another thing that may help

    I always send home a letter at the first of the year outlining class rules, grading policies, etc. I require that the students and his/her parents (or guardians) read, acknowledge and sign it. I know that often times the students may have forged the signature but in either case it's a tool that's handy to have. It can help diffuse situations (even if the parent did not see/read/sign it they usually won't admit that to the teacher). by communicating expectations upfront (or attempting to) you can usually get in front of these things.
     
  15. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    I don't know how comfortable I'd be. I don't really deal with parents like this at my school, actually I've never really come across a parent like this. This is one of the main reasons I love where I teach. I think now that I'm a little older and confident about my job I would be more comfortable standing up to parents like this, but definitely not when I first graduated from college. I come across some pretty lousy parents, but for the most part they all listen to what I have to say and they never, ever tell me how to do my job.
     
  16. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    It gets much easier to say "no" over the years. I consider I would be a dead corpse in the classroom if I never learned to say "no" to the students, and I don't think parents are much different.

    I do try to make sure my "no" is pleasant. I really try to listen to the parent, and find that is often more important to them than my decision. I often repeat back what I hear them say, so they know I have listened. If possible, I see if I can throw in a true compliment about their child to make it clear that I do see the good in their child.

    I often try to make sure I have clear policies that are in the classroom so I can let the parent know that is against the policy in the classroom, and I can't make an exception for one parent.
     
  17. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    This. My Admin often has to bow to parents' demands so I know what battles to fight and which to let go.
     
  18. Teacher Chele

    Teacher Chele Habitué

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    I've found that if I am nice, but firm enough to show that I know what I am doing parents respect me. My favorite phrase is "I would be upset just like you are, if this were true, but let me explain the whole situation. " Don't ever make excuses.
     
  19. Bella2010

    Bella2010 Habitué

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    I have trouble with it. Invariably, the parents I've ran into this situation with are the ones who grab onto one thing and won't let go. Like I'll tell them no, explain it, and they keep going with the same thing, still expecting me to change whatever it is they're griping about. Twice they've ran to admin, and I've had to reverse my decision. Kind of made me wonder if the battle was worth it.
     
  20. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    What am I saying "no" to?

    I do everything I can to be welcoming to parents. They pay my salary and send me my clients. I'd be nowhere without them.
     
  21. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    It's funny you mention customer service because I actually worked at a retail store that taught employees never to say "no", and instead offer an alternative or solution to the problem (not always possible, but possible in most situations).

    I give reasons or offer alternatives when I say "no" whenever possible.
     
  22. ecteach

    ecteach Devotee

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    As a special ed teacher, I have to be very comfortable with this. You wouldn't believe the things parents ask for in IEP Meetings. I once had a parent ask me if I could put in the IEP that I will provide the mom with my cell phone number and return any call not answered within one hour. Um....that would be a NO!!!:blush:
     
  23. MrsJay

    MrsJay Rookie

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    As a new teacher, I really have not had too many run ins with telling a parent no. I hope this school year my admin backs me up with any decisions I need to make.
     
  24. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Agreed...I tend to get a lot of parents asking for their child to never get below a B regardless of their actual scores and things like that.
     
  25. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Still, there are some requests that simply cannot be honored, don't you agree?
     
  26. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Your clients?!!! I am stunned by your choice of words.
     
  27. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    I agree with the use of this phrase (although I soften it with "I'm afraid it won't be possible"), but I would also make sure there are a list of things that ARE possible. For example, "I'm afraid it won't be possible for me to tutor Dakota as soon as she gets off the bus each morning. However, I can arrange some time after school next week if you can provide transportation for her to get home."
     
  28. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Well, if you were me, you would be saying "no" to things that would put their children ahead of the others, giving them an unfair advantage. Or things that would take up extra time of mine, have no educational value for them but that their children missed the first time around due to their own bad choices.
     
  29. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    The only two times I've had to get hardcore with the "no" after the "that won't be possible + reasoning" and send it up the chain of command have been:

    1. Student straight copied and pasted a Wikipedia article and tried to hand it in as a research paper after many, MANY discussions about plagiarism and cheating. The parent was furious that I was giving the student a 0 and wouldn't let them redo it. This was the second research paper of the year (I give one per semester) and I HAD let students, including this one, redo it after cheating on the first semester paper.

    2. The parent wanted to the student to take the final exam 2 weeks early so they could leave for a vacation. In that case, it wasn't even my decision. We'd been told very clearly that any requests of this sort had to go through the principal for approval. The parent simply didn't want to go to the principal and was mad that I wouldn't just do it under the radar and mark their kid present for the 2 weeks afterwards.

    Some people just won't be reasoned with.
     
  30. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    As a teacher, I rarely had to say no. However, as an administrator, I have to say no relatively often. You'd be amazed at some of the requests I get from parents and teachers.
     
  31. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I can imagine such a thing existing which is why I asked what we're saying "no" to. I honestly have not had such a request in 11 years of teaching except when parents have asked for placement in a full program. In that case I'm not saying no for any reason other than logistics.

    As far as the term clients, it is obviously a metaphor but I stand by it. My job is to serve them, hence the term "public servant."
     
  32. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Why? It is our job to serve the community. They pay the taxes that pay us. I have always felt many teachers would do a better job if they were more customer service oriented. Our teaching is like a product which we have to adapt to meet the needs of our students and community expectations. We need to market ourselves and our schools and provide a good, quality product and compete in a marketplace which now provides a lot of different alternatives.

    I agree with previous posters that a no should be avoided. It doesn't mean you are going to do what they say, it just means that you word it in a way that is less offensive.

    For example,
    -that is an interesting idea
    -let me think about it
    -that would be great, however, .....
    -I will consider it
    -unfortunately, policy.....
    -maybe we can think of a compromise that will follow rules
    -explain why the rule/policy is in place to protect children or follow guidelines
    -I understand how you feel, nevertheless....
    -I am sorry, my hands are tied because...
    -I know you don't want me to get in trouble....
    -In the best interest of your child,...
     
  33. live

    live Companion

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    Jul 7, 2014

    Like others have said, my 'no' is usually followed by reasons and alternatives.

    I'm a young teacher (who looks even younger than my age), so I've had parents who tried to take advantage of that. I actually had a parent say things like, "You must be new to this, but..." If things were passed along to admin by any teacher, they usually gave into even the weirdest requests.

    This year I have more admin support. I'm also at a better school and I'm more known within the small community. I work well with parents and kids so I'm taken seriously despite my age. So when I say my variation of 'no,' they've been nothing but willing to work with me.

    It was hard for me at first, but I'm becoming more comfortable saying 'no.' Probably because I have that support and I'm more confident in the things that I do as a teacher.
     
  34. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    I am blunt and brutally honest. A no is a no. But, that does not mean I do not look for a compromise or a happy medium.
     

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