Parents angry at you...

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by 1stYearTeacher, Sep 17, 2007.

  1. 1stYearTeacher

    1stYearTeacher Companion

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 17, 2007

    How do you handle parents who are angry at you? Today I had on parent call me and another write an email to the principal complaining about me. I have been crying for three hours. I don't know if I want to do this anymore and really don't want to be a teacher =/
     
  2.  
  3. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Sep 17, 2007

    First off, what were the parents complaints? If it was something personal with their child, then you just have to put your side of the story out there and make sure that you have documentation. To the parent that went directly to the principal, well she/he was out of line. They should have come to you first to work out the problem. My first year I had a dad come to me and said that I shouldn't be teaching and that his son wasn't going to be getting anything out of my class. Same year I had a parent pull her child from my class because I was a new teacher and she didn't think I was a good fit for her daughter. My principal was behind me 100%. My second year(last year)I had a parent go behind my back to the principal because her son was failing and she didn't know about it. Come to find out the student was keeping failing work from her. You do have to grow a tougher skin to deal with parents, and each year it gets better. Don't give up on teaching just because of the parents. I know they're a part of it, but its a small part. Last year, to that one bad parent, I had 1 dad want to meet with the principal and myself. I was scared!! But come to find out, he wanted to let the principal know what an excellent job I was doing. He was complaining about something else, but wanted me in there when he told the principal about his daughter doing better this year than in previous years. Many of the other parents always great things to say about their children in my room. It stinks that one or two parents can make you change your hole career path. I wish you luck and hope that you'll stay in the teaching field.
     
  4. jaruby

    jaruby Companion

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2005
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 17, 2007

    Take a deep breath and relax. If you are not doing anything wrong it will be ok. I'm a middle school teacher 170+ students every year do the math thats at least 300 parents. Some of them are not going to like something about the way I teach or even me. That's part of the job. If you want too, have a discussion with them and try to find a solution. I prefer to listen/read from them and say "Thank you, I will take that into consideration." This usually calms them down.

    Make sure you document everything and state your case to the principal, if you didnt do anything wrong dont worry about it or take it personal. Its just a parent venting and using you as the target. Remember, if their child wont learn it is almost always the teachers fault in their mind and its even easier when the teacher is new.
     
  5. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Messages:
    6,439
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 17, 2007

    Parents will always complain about teachers. This is why teachers need to keep good documentation. Not only that, teachers need to really think about their beleifs and stand behind them. Remember, parents and teachers both want the child to succeed..... if you can make the parent see that, you will have won them over.
     
  6. ~Nicole

    ~Nicole Comrade

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2007
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 17, 2007

    I use a "given that" statement. For example, on the parent call I just had where the parent was upset that her son missed a reward recess to finish up work, "given that *John* did not finish his work in class and failed to hand it in as homework he was required to stay in as outlined in the homework procedures during the Friday Reward Recess to finish it. I know that you want John to be successful this year, I can see that you really are concerned about his performance. I am concerned that he had to be redirected and moved to the safe seat because he was taking to other students. Does this happen at home? What strategies work for you?
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2007
    Messages:
    14,606
    Likes Received:
    2,712

    Sep 17, 2007

    Some parents just need to complain, although I'm not sure why. Occasionally they do have valid concerns, so you need to make sure that you understand their complaint. What were the issues your parents were complaining about?

    Lots of times we just need to put on a pleasant face and spell out the situation for parents. I really do think that some of them are shocked (SHOCKED!) to learn that their kid got a zero for the day because they were off-task, didn't turn in an assignment, or skipped classes. Parents want to believe everything their kids tell them--sometimes that stuff is true, and sometimes it isn't. As long as we teachers are telling the truth, can provide documentation, and aren't jerks about the whole thing, parents usually come around. At least that's been my experience.
     
  8. corps2005

    corps2005 Cohort

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2006
    Messages:
    706
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 17, 2007

    Relax and calm down :) Make sure you take the advice of the other posters and document EVERYTHING. List dates, times, people, the conversation, actions you took to solve the challenge, etc. Be as detailed as possible to cover yourself.

    Trust me, there will always be someone who is mad at you. Why just today I had 2-3 angrey parents called me "F***** white b****" because I did not let them into the school building. See, our school has a policy that the office must buzz all people into the building, and they must all have a visitor's pass, or they will escorted outside. Thus, I couldn't, according to the policy, open the door for them. The counselor backed me up. Believe me, you can't satisfy everyone, particularly the doting parents.
     
  9. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Sep 17, 2007

    My mentor told me that she tells parents, I'll believe half of what your child tells me about you, if you believe only half of what they tell you about me.
     
  10. jeanie

    jeanie Companion

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2005
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 18, 2007

    I also always, always, always acknowledge their frustration or disappointment. " I understand why you are disappointed... I am (or would be) too. This is what happened." (If someone was calling me names, I would say. "I can tell you are really upset about this...." It often calms them enough so that the conversation can be continued in a more positive way. Try not to take it personally. If you continue to model respect, you may eventually get it. If the conversation is highly abusive, I would maybe ( maybe ) say "I'll let you calm down a minute. Then we can talk." I might leave the room and get another teacher or principal on standby.
    I always make sure that what I do as a teacher is for the good of the students, or backed up by school rules. If I have made a mistake, I admit it, apologize and give them hope that it will not happen again.
     
  11. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Messages:
    6,699
    Likes Received:
    66

    Sep 18, 2007

    I have parents who get angry with me from time to time, we all do. It's a hazard of the job. My master teacher told me not to take their anger personally. It's really hard to do that, but it's how I deal with it. I know that they are angry because of their child's grades, behavior in class, etc not me personally. (Even though some of their attacks get personal.) I had a meeting with a parent yesterday where I was attacked because their child received a C on their mid-six weeks grades. Instead of just contacting me to see where his grades are now (mid-six weeks was 1 a week and a half ago) he called the principal to complain and I was called into the meeting. He proceeded to list everything that I am doing wrong and how I needed to learn how to treat children. His child is terrified of him, but he is an alcoholic and probably isn't even aware. He was pompous, condescending, derogatory, and just plain rude. I had recalculated his grades to give his parents an updated average, all were A’s except science. Dad seemed to be ok about that, but ended the meeting telling me how glad he was that I listened to him and how he "knew his son would be treated better" after this. I started to ask him if by that he meant I stopped hugging his son in the morning and evening, stopped listening to his stories, stopped giving him high 5s when he did well, stopped joking with him, etc. I don't know how a child that is so sweet and caring came from him.
    Anyway, that's the long answer, try not to take it personally. I have a figurine on my desk, an Angel attached to a rock that says, "Life if fragile, handle with prayer." It's my touchstone when I get angry with parents, I'll sit there and pray. It helps. And when nothing else gets it done I call my best friends (who are teachers) and talk bad about them. Sometimes you just have to get the ugly out before things will smooth over. Just remember, you are doing one of the hardest jobs around, and you are doing it well. Good luck!!!
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2007
  12. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 18, 2007

    Last year, I had a *huge* male parent who yelled at me all kinds of things and then went to the office to complain about me. My principal knew this parent, thank goodness, so she just told me to document everything in case he went to the district to complain. For two months after, he kept sending his kid with messages for me, "tell your teacher she's stupid...ignorant..." and so on. The little girl liked me so much, she hated doing it but was scared not to do what he told her. One of the other teachers suggested I have her write it, not say it. So the next day when she came to tell me what her dad had said, I said, honey, you are going to have to write it down, or go tell the office, but you can't say it to me. She wrote it down, I took it to the office, they conferenced with dad and that was the end of it. It will work out, 1st Year Teacher. I'm sorry it is happening to you.
    P.S. The child and I were both relieved! :)
     
  13. January_Violet

    January_Violet Comrade

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    331
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 18, 2007

    Parents are the one element that I HATE about teaching. Most of the time, they will be more trouble than helpful. Like the others said, you have to get a thicker skin, even though it hurts on the inside. Typically, the parents who complain the most and the loudest are the ones who aren't doing what they suppose to do.

    Hang it there and know its them and not you.

    BTW, when you have "one of those" types of parents, please copy everything and OVER document.



     
  14. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,170

    Sep 18, 2007

    What an elegant solution!
     
  15. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,052
    Likes Received:
    217

    Sep 18, 2007

    Okay, as a parent -- teachers have control over the kids lives for six hours a day, and in many instances act as a substitute parent during that time. Teachers make a lot of judgments about behavior that might not be directly related to education. They have the power to punish or reward the students, and parents often have little control over the selection of their child's teacher.

    Given this, parents are nervous. I'm giving my child to a stranger's care -- you bet I'm nervous. Imagine if one of those parents you have trouble with were a second grade teacher instead, yelling at children rather than adult teachers, or telling children they were useless and stupid. The child could well be utterly defenseless, with no way to "grow a thick skin", know that they can complain, or option to change "careers". And whatever happens could affect the child far into the future.

    I'm not the type of person to yell or complain. It can be used as a form of punishment, and punishment has all sorts of difficult side effects (one of which being resentment, and the last thing I'd want is a resentful teacher taking out their feelings, intentionally or not, on my child). If I were to ever use it, though, I would be exceptionally harsh, as cruel as possible. Weak punishment is worse than useless.

    None of this is to say you're wrong, or that the parents are being reasonable. It's quite likely, almost certain really, they aren't. If they're not introspective, they have no idea that they aren't. If they are introspective, they may be unreasonable intentionally, or at least not trying to temper it.
     
  16. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Sep 18, 2007

    Can you tell us what they're complaining about? Is it something concrete? Behavior problems? Inexperience? Test grades? Let us know and we'll try to help.

    Also, you call yourself a New teacher hopeful... are you a full time teacher or student teacher?
     
  17. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 19, 2007

    Thank you, I'm lucky the other teacher suggested it. You wouldn't believe the relief this poor girl displayed when it stopped, she was her happy little self again like a big burden had been lifted from her. She wrote a letter at the end of the year that was so touching, about how much she loved me and how I had "made" her feel so smart and confident. I thought, we must be doing something right...
     
  18. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 19, 2007

    OP, how's our new teacher doing?
     
  19. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,170

    Sep 19, 2007

    Tough situation, 1stYear. My sympathies. I'd ask if this is a high-SES area - the level of entitlement that seems to drive the complains would be consistent with that - but you're probably better off not specifying.

    Document everything, and keep us posted, please.
     
  20. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Sep 19, 2007

    1) How am I doing?

    I'm glad to see that you are getting better and you have other teachers in which to turn too.

    2) The issues:

    Have you been able to tell the parent exactly what happened? Students who get in trouble often elaborate what really happened in the classroom to take the attention off of their behavior. I think this parent is just making empty threats. I would document what behavior was done and what the consequence was so that you have something to back you up.

    Parent/Child two - this child told their mother that I called them the worst class ever. .

    My sister had a child do this last year (her first year teaching). Once my sister explained that to the parent, the parent backed off. I know that parents have to have more sense than to believe that their child's teacher would throw things at them.

    I wish you luck in the remainder of this assignment...don't let those parents get you down!
     
  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,052
    Likes Received:
    217

    Sep 19, 2007

    1stYear, I hope my post made clear that you shouldn't lose confidence in yourself. Speaking as a parent, I can comfortably say that parents can be nuts. Some might even feel they're not doing their job if they're not nuts. They'll also go after neophyte teachers, or teachers they sense aren't confident, or substitutes.

    Sounds like there are two who are real issues. Offer to meet them, with the principal, and hear their concerns. Have a written set of your classroom rules, and relay some of the items below (particularly if they're blaming you for things done by other teachers). If you meet them, and look confident and like you have a plan and treat them calmly (which can include calmly walking away if they're being ridiculous), either you'll win their respect or you'll win the respect of anyone watching. Either helps you. Heck, if you manage all that and don't vomit during the meeting you should at least win your own respect.
     
  22. Katekat

    Katekat Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 22, 2007
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 19, 2007

    Some parents love to complain, especially if their child is in trouble. The first time I had parents get mad at me I handled it the best I could at the time (this was at the YMCA programs I direct and not at a school) but after they left I felt the same as you did, ready to cry and stressed. Now that I have more experience my confidence that I am making the right decisions has grown and I now see complaining parents in the same manner I would see a child who is throwing a fit. lol Something to be dealt with usually unreasonable on their side (for example "My child shouldn't have been suspended. He stayed up late last night and was tired. If you had let him sleep before and after nap you wouldn't have had any problems with him!" "Ms. Mom, Joey may be tired but he is still able to understand that it is unacceptable to bite another child and hit a teacher") I do my best not to let affect me personally. Also, something I’ve noticed being an after school director is that many parents who complain to me about their childs teacher usually seem to feel threatened by the teacher (for example maybe the teacher spends more time with the child than the parent, or the parent works two minimum wage jobs and sees the teacher as a big shot who doesn't understand what "real" life is like, or any behavior problems must be the teachers fault and not a result of the fact that they have no control at home). Don't take it to personally, it's not always truly about you! :hugs:

    At the Y we are not allowed to take away food as a discipline, however this is mostly because snack is part of our program. If they bring in candy from home and are eating it on the bus then we will take it away because we are still providing our snack for them. Since I can not take away snack one way I deal with them making a mess repeatedly is to have them be trash collectors during free play. They know if they can not be responsible for their mess and are purposely making a mess they will be picking up a mess for the first five (or longer depending on the situation) minutes of free play.
     
  23. eduk8r

    eduk8r Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,168
    Likes Received:
    1

    Sep 19, 2007

    That's it, then, they are ganging up on you because you are a substitute teacher. I'm sorry that this is happening to you. It sounds like they aren't giving you respect because they feel you're not a "real" teacher. (I subbed for 4 years, I saw it all.) Are your administrators backing you up? Have you invited the parents to come in and help out? I know you probably don't want them in there, but that might get them to see that you're just doing the best you can and that you are a "real" teacher. I will keep this in prayer. Once again, I'm sorry. Please don't let the loss of confidence take permanent hold. Every teacher and especially every substitute teacher has gone through this at least once. It's hard. Don't forget who you are.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  24. 1stYearTeacher

    1stYearTeacher Companion

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 19, 2007

    Thank You for all the advice. I'm not going to give up yet, it's getting better slowly. I just need to remember WHY I chose this career and I hope that will keep me going.

    Can anyone please tell me how to delete my post from here. I am afraid of identifying information. Thanks
     
  25. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,170

    Sep 19, 2007

    Why don't you just edit it? When you're signed in, you should see three blue links under each of YOUR posts: "edit", "reply w/quote", and "quick reply". Click on "edit" and your post will be opened and you can take out anything you think might be too obvious.
     
  26. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,052
    Likes Received:
    217

    Sep 20, 2007

    smalltowngirl, eduk8r

    smalltowngirl, eduk8r -- Perhaps you should modify your own posts as well, since 1stYear was afraid of identifying information being public and you quoted large portions of the post.

    1stYear -- you should be very careful about posting identifying information (though I'd be quite surprised if anyone could actually identify you from what you did post). You may not be aware of this, but search engines cache pages -- so Google may have come in and picked up the page and stored it on their servers where people could see it. Not extremely likely, but the possibility is out there.

    Unless, of course, Amanda has a nice little robots file to keep polite web spiders (Google's are polite) from caching these.

    edit: looks like her robots file doesn't disallow showthread.php, so I think Google et. al. would pick it up. Again, not likely, and someone would need to know what to do to get it even if it were retrievable (if Google's spiders haven't been around in a while they wouldn't have it). But something to keep in mind.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2007
  27. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2007
    Messages:
    17,362
    Likes Received:
    46

    Sep 20, 2007

    I took out the majority of the post so you don't have to worry about being found out. But I agree with 3sons. There are so many people on this site, many with the same issues. It would be difficult for another teacher or admin. or a parent to track you down. For one, principals probably don't even have time to scan each post here to see if any of them are their teachers. But I understand why you would want to take the post down on the off chance that something was caught.
     
  28. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,170

    Sep 20, 2007

    Interesting, 3sons. "Polite" and "spider" are two words I would not have thought to collocate...

    I suspect that editing rather than deleting might raise fewer eyebrows ("oooo, what's X trying to hide, hm?"), but that can certainly be debated.
     
  29. 1stYearTeacher

    1stYearTeacher Companion

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    Messages:
    129
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 20, 2007

    I had to provide the information that I did to get good advice. My reason for concern was one of the parents is actually a teacher, so you just never know!
     
  30. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,807
    Likes Received:
    1,170

    Sep 20, 2007

    Hug to you, 1stYear.
     
  31. Yank7

    Yank7 Habitué

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Messages:
    870
    Likes Received:
    0

    Sep 20, 2007

    Don't drive yourself crazy. It happens to all teachers.Parents complain for all type of reasons. They tend to believe their child
    ,many times without giving the teacher a chance to explain.Yesterday I had a child in the student government group I work with,not my own class, tell me he stabbed himself with a pencil.I looked at it and he drew a little blood. I told him to wash it off and let me know if it was still bleeding.When he came back it stopped bleeding and there was nothing there when I looked. When the child went home he told his mother who carried on like crazy about the incident. It turns out his teacher sent him to the nurse latter in the day ,and she saw nothing. Of course I heard about it from our AP the next day. When I met with the group the child was fine! It is part of the job of being a teacher
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. SAM PARKER,
  2. MrsC,
  3. Ima Teacher
Total: 439 (members: 3, guests: 417, robots: 19)
test