Peer Groups

    Re: Angry/difficult parents and meeting
    Ellie Mae

    I am very sorry that you have had this bad expericience.
    Unfortantly, moments like that sometimes are part of our job.
    I'd like to address a few things you said.

    1) Concerning your lack of a mentor. Everyone needs
    someone. I had a poor mentor my first year. Several times
    she came to me. I found myself an "unoffical mentor". This
    woman is still my mentor, and she always will be. It doesn't
    matter how accomplished I become, I still go to her. Why?
    Because every one needs a sounding board they can trust.
    Find yourself a mentor. Just choose someone who is
    experienced, effective, and has a good attitude.

    2)Yes, there is something you can do to have better
    relationships with your parents. The secret to all good
    relationships is communication. My parents are my first
    objectives every year, yes, even before my students. Why?
    Because their child's success and to a large degree my
    success depends on their support. I call every parent
    at the start of the year and introduce myself. I always end
    by asking this magic question, "Is there anything that you
    can tell me about Johnny that would help me help him this
    year?" Keep a notebook handy. You'd be amazed at what
    they'll share! Keep the lines open all year. I send a daily
    email to 21 addresses everyday.

    You sound hurt and discouraged. Remember this is your
    calling and you're changing lives! If you'd like to talk
    more, please email me at

    On 11/22/08, teachinNC wrote:
    > I have had a very difficult year with a few parents this
    > year. I have had a lower/challenging class and I have
    > noticed that some teachers have an easier time making
    > parents like them or at least not making them
    > dislike/making them mad. Do any of you veteran (or other)
    > teachers have any tips you have learned over the years
    > about how to handle parents, esp. of low children? I
    > notice that if the child is doing well then the parent
    > likes/loves me. If the child is a struggler/low student
    > sometimes the parent lashes out/dislikes/wants to blame
    > me. I did not have a good mentor at all for my first year
    > of teaching. My principal just explained to me this year
    > not to mention the word retention at all in at-risk and
    > other parent meetings. No one, not even my teacher
    > education program had ever taught that to me.
    > Yesterday I had a difficult angry parent meeting with the
    > parents and my principal (who is wonderful/backs her
    > teachers 100% thank-goodness). of a boy who ended up as a
    > 1/2 running record last year. (I teach 1st grade). The
    > mother seemed to hate me to start off with. She was
    > seething venom. She wouldn't even make eye contact with
    > me. Part of it stemmed from a meeting 6 weeks into the
    > school year in which I told her her child was 2 reading
    > levels behind and might have to be retained. She suggested
    > a tutor and I told her a tutor was no guarantee (meaning
    > we would have to have him reading a lot, staying in Title
    > I, etc.), but I offered to get her some names in case she
    > wanted to try and I did. She turned that around to say
    > that I said nothing would help him, not even a tutor. When
    > I realized my mistake about him being retained and that he
    > would not be retained no matter what because examining his
    > file more closely I realized he had already been retained
    > in another state and finished part of his second year with
    > us, so our policy is to not retain again until the 3rd or
    > 4th grades. I called her to tell her that and calm her
    > down (she had had a meltdown and called the guidance
    > counselor and talked her ear off after our first PT
    > meeting). She said she felt I had washed my hands of him
    > after 6 weeks of school. She threw that in my face at the
    > meeting with the principal even though I had explained
    > that to her already--she was obviously out to get/wound
    > me/make me look bad in front of my boss. I am trying to be
    > nice to her and forgive her even though she complained to
    > the principal about me. When we had our meeting I took
    > responsibility for my error/apologized to her that we had
    > gotten off on the wrong foot and did point out that I
    > stayed on a Friday night at 5:00 PM to call her up and let
    > her know that no matter what--he would not be retained and
    > that we would do everything we could to catch him up. Now
    > I am walking on eggshells and hope I never see the woman
    > ever again as long as I live.
    > I am hoping next year that I
    > can do better at getting along with parents of
    > academically low students. It is Saturday and I have also
    > felt very depressed about all of this, feel the woman made
    > me look bad in front of my principal and wonder if I will
    > get re-contracted next year since there are budget cuts
    > (my state has a 15% budget shortfall and I am not tenure
    > yet.) Any advice or encouragement would be greatly
    > appreciated, I feel somewhat down and defeated as there
    > have been other other unfair things done to me by parents
    > this year that have nothing to do with this situation: For
    > example: On the first day of school I had a parent try to
    > talk to me while I was helping 6 other children put
    > supplies up and the rest of the children were waiting on
    > me--it was a stressful time. I met her child and spoke to
    > her for a few moments. The child had a happy first day but
    > at the end of the day the parent asked the principal if
    > she could have a different teacher. She didn't feel I
    > would be "loving enough" for her daughter. The principal
    > said the child's kindergarten teacher felt I would be
    > great and refused to move her. Mom got stubborn and left
    > one child at the school and put that child in a different
    > county because mom and dad were separated due to a
    > divorce. This is an example of the kind of upsetting
    > things that have been happening this year with parents.
    > Another parent who is white trashy--a moocher who lives
    > off of different relatives until the get tired of her told
    > the principal that she didn't want her child in my class
    > because a parent of a boy told her I have reading contest
    > where children are expected to read 5 books a night (a
    > lie) and that she didn't want to do any extra reading like
    > that (He does no reading at home beyond maybe his basal
    > sometimes.) This was also a few days into the school
    > year). This is another child who had previously been
    > retained. The principal reassured her and got a copy of my
    > homework sheet which was like everyone else's and the boy
    > stayed in my class. I am starting to wonder if this is
    > normal (nasty, nasty complaining parents) or God wants me
    > to quit teaching?!!!! No wonder people leave this
    > profession after the first 3-5 years! My husband would
    > love it if I would quit but I don't think it would be
    > financially responsible to do so, plus I like teaching
    > most of the time.