Problems Parents Cause For Teachers

I’m not talking about all parents here at all, but ‘parents’ as a group seem to be yet another direction from which negativity comes towards teachers that stops them from doing their jobs effectively and causes extra problems. I’ve written about some of the more common ones here.

Not supporting school rules
I think that if it is law that a child attend school, then it should be law that they follow that school’s rules. It is one thing to have a student not follow them and having to deal with that, but when that non-compliance is backed up by a parent, it causes major problems.

Uniform is the most common issue in this area, so that parents will argue that it is insignificant. When that argument is taken seriously, it undermines the teacher’s authority and sends a clear message to the student that only the rules they agree with have to be followed. Aside for making life difficult for teachers, this bears zero resemblance to the way the world of work functions.

Not teaching children ‘the basics’
I was shocked when recently a colleague of mine complained that her university student child did not know how to deposit money in a bank and had to phone her to ask, stating that she expected school to have taught them that. There are many issues that parents feel this way on, from the rise of children starting school without being potty trained, to this incident.

Parents are responsible for teaching children how to live and get by in everyday life, and there are increasing numbers of parents who think that it is the responsibility of teachers. Do you really want to have your child’s time wasted by making trips to the bank to practice depositing money, just in case one of them might possibly inconvenience their parent or a bank cashier by asking them?

Taking student’s word as gospel
Parents who believe their children over teachers when it comes to accounts of classroom incidents have the effect of undermining teachers and their child’s sense of responsibility for their own actions. Senior managers in schools are increasingly taking this seriously as well, adding more weight against the account of the teacher.

Teachers are professionals, who want their classes to behave well and achieve and anyone who thinks they give false accounts because they are building a case against a student they just don’t like really needs this point bringing home. On the other hand, students are generally still developing socially and morally and are highly likely to lie to avoid being in trouble. It is very easy to see who’s account of events should be taken more seriously.

Complaining over nothing
Parents absolutely have the right to complain to a school, and it’s an important process that needs to stay in place. However, it is often abused to the point where it’s a way to add weight to the argument from parents that a school’s rules or procedures shouldn’t apply to their child. Any small complaint is also taken very seriously by school managers, so that a teacher can be in trouble simply for the volume of complaints made about them, whether they were upheld or not.

Making assumptions
I’ve written before about dangerous assumptions that are made of teachers, and how these are not just amusing myths to be dispelled, but that they actually cause problems. When they come from parents they are often from a place of contempt, stating that teachers have too much time off which causes them childcare problems, or that they have a vendetta against their child which is why they are always in trouble.

Abuse at parent’s evenings
I’ve also mentioned this before, so that parent’s evenings are seen as a chance to give the teachers back some of the abuse that they’ve been dishing out to their children all year. There’s zero protection for teachers from this kind of abuse, which is more likely to be verbal but physical violence is also not unheard of.

I’ve seen a lot in the past few weeks teachers complaining of constantly being contacted by certain parents, who are making excessive demands for feedback and assessment. Often teachers are able to be contacted directly, via email, and are required to respond or risk having formal complaints made against them. This adds significantly to workload.

Are parents of your students giving you problems? Have you been subject to excessive complaints which have been taken more seriously than they should? Have you been subject to abuse which has been taken less seriously than it should? I can provide personal support via email, if you want it.


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