Parent complaints

Discussion in 'General Education' started by 2ndTimeAround, Nov 22, 2014.

  1. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    Nov 22, 2014

    How do you respond if a parent complains about a decision you've made? After you've considered the parent's point of view, do you get upset? Nervous? Hurt? Frustrated? Irritated? Understanding?

    I get at least one complaint a year. Depending upon how helicopter-ish my students' parents are.

    During my first year of teaching I would get a bit nervous. I wasn't confident in everything I did so I did second guess myself.

    The next year the parent complaints were so ridiculous that I quickly learned not to take them to heart. It did not take long before I gained proper perspective. Now I typically blow off what I consider silly and send polite emails in response. I'll make it clear that they were heard but that I'll continue to do what I feel is best for everyone in the classroom. That includes me.

    How about you?
     
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  3. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Nov 22, 2014

    I agree with what you do. If you have 25 students you can't have 25 parents running your class. What if you have 100 or more students? It just doesn't make sense. ONE person has to make decisions. That has to be the teacher.
     
  4. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Nov 22, 2014

    I'm pretty good with accommodating parents up to a certain point, and then I will be able to provide clear justification for why I do what I do.

    I guess I've been lucky that I haven't really had many problems with this. I had one parent complain that I don't post every assignment in digital format on the online gradebook the day that I assign it, and instead have my own way of obtaining make-up work that is easier for me (a file rack in the back of my room that they can grab copies from).

    In her case, I was able to blow off her complaints and ignore them after saying that I simply don't do it that way (and neither does any teacher except for one).
     
  5. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Nov 22, 2014

    I'm lucky that our parents are not complainers. They're actually pretty appreciative that we're willing to teach at our school and do everything we do for their kids.
    I did get one mother complain, but it was totally my fault. I screwed up. Unfortunately I didn't really get the chance to fix the situation, I got to improve it a little, but her daughter was accepted back to her home school. I still feel bad that this mother probably remembers me as a bad person / teacher. I did learn from the situation though.

    Another mom was really stuck up and rude with me, and wanted to lecture me on how to deal with teenagers, etc. I was able to not fall into her rudeness and systematically improve the situation and our relationship. (it took about 2 months last year). Since then she loves me :)
     
  6. houseofbooks

    houseofbooks Companion

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    Nov 24, 2014

    :agreed:

    I've already had a parent complain about the "popcorn reading" in class, but sorry, it works for the other 26 students in the room. It would be impossible to fulfill every single parent request. I'm polite about it, of course, but the line has to be drawn somewhere.
     
  7. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Nov 24, 2014

    I have had to draw the line many times. I had this one parent complain because his son wasn't eating enough at lunch. First of all, I can't force him to eat!! 2nd of all, all the students get free lunch and there are only a few options so it's not like a restaurant! Also, the parent said, "if he won't eat his lunch, just give him cookies". UMMMMM no.
     
  8. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    Nov 24, 2014

    One of my profs always told us that we had to have a reason for anything we did in our tutoring lessons. That way, even if we didn't exactly follow what *she* wanted us to do, we had our justification for it and she was usually ok with it. Teachers need to know why they're doing what they're doing -- whether it's seating charts, classroom management, or a lesson format or subject. Sometimes people nitpick just because they don't understand the reasons behind what you're doing.
     
  9. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Nov 24, 2014

    My first reaction is to get defensive. I never respond to an email or phone call right away. After I've calmed down, I usually try to understand where the parent is coming from. I also tend to get really upset and hurt.
     
  10. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I think that's a good policy in general. This way if an administrator asks (or parent) you can always justify and defend yourself and appear to have been making a choice, not just reacting after getting upset.

    I try to live by this and imagine my P always to be in my classroom, but sometimes I still give the response "I don't know, I got really frustrated". Thankfully, she understands that we're all human.
     
  11. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    Nov 24, 2014

    I worked for a time as a cashier in retail. The total number of difficult parents in 20+ years wouldn't come close to the number of rude people I have met complaining about things I had no control over in that cashier line in a month. After being a cashier, I find parents to be really nice. True some are rude and a bit irrational, but I don't get too bothered by it. One of my first parent complaints, the parent was completely right. She actually said something that helped my teaching a lot. I guess then, I have tried to listen to parents to see if I can learn something--when I can't, I just let it go.
     
  12. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Nov 30, 2014


    I think this is the right approach, I would just suggest that even for the silly/idiotic parent complaints, you don't mentally just ignore them. Even if the content of the complaint is stupid (which it probably is), it indicates something about the parent's perspective. If you can give them information to change their perspective (and know what to say to influence parents in the future), it could be helpful.

    * reading your post, I don't mean to say you're not doing this (maybe you are), but I still wanted to highlight the point.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2014
  13. GTB4GT

    GTB4GT Cohort

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    Nov 30, 2014

    Interestingly enough, i teach in a rural area. I have never had a parent complaint. Unfortunately, I tend to chalk it up to parental apathy rather than than teacher proficiency. some of you may scoff but i actually would relish some meaningful parental involvement.
     
  14. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I think it's hard when so many parents have so many different expectations of what good teaching looks like. You can't always please everyone. I actually had a parent once ask to take a picture with me and the child at a classroom event and then went to my P and said-see, she doesn't like my child, you can tell because of the face she's making. She would go in and meet with my admins because I gave her (the parent) a "look". I'd have to get pulled out of class and answer for it. It still bothers me to this day whenever I see that parent in the halls!

    The following year I vowed to do a better job of establishing relationships from Day One and since then I've been pretty lucky.
     
  15. BioAngel

    BioAngel Science Teacher - Grades 3-6

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    Dec 4, 2014

    ^ This is me... just how I am and I don't exactly like it about myself, but I can be an emotional worrier. I have become more confident about making decisions and will explain myself to parents, but it can be tricky if the parents go to the P to complain and she doesn't always have my back. (Doesn't happen that often though)

    Other times I know that some parents are completely out of their minds and I don't worry about those. We have one parent in particular who has gotten on everybody's case- she even spoke down about me to another (new) teacher at the school- so I really don't let her emails get to me at this point.
     
  16. txmomteacher2

    txmomteacher2 Enthusiast

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    Dec 4, 2014

    So far this year I haven't had any complaints (that I know of) Last year was a whole different story. We had a ton of SAHM's that had nothing better to do than complain about us teachers and the school. The group was lead by one of my parents. Luckily my principal knew exactly how to handle her and her "mafia" Although by the end of the year most of the parents had grown tired of her and so they were trying to get away from her. Especially after an incident were she was caught lying to EVERYONE about something I supposedly did.
    Three years ago I did have a parent that sat in my room from February until the end of the year. That parent had been a thorn in this district's side for a while before I got the child. It wasn't about me, it was all about them. They blamed us for their child's unsuccessful academic career, when they hadn't even bothered to enroll him in school for a majority of his kinder and first grade years.
    I have never been one to worry about parents. I was a parent long before I was a teacher and so I think I handle parents pretty well. I know and understand their concerns and try really hard to convey that from the very beginning.
     

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