An Early Mother's Day Gift
A Minute to Myself (181)

Parent-Teacher Conference

I was in the middle of writing this humorous slash ranting post about a parent-teacher-teacher-student-assistant principal conference I had the other day when I thought, hmm, the mother is a lawyer, the mother is irate, maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea to post this. Even though there is no way anyone could figure out who I am talking about, why tempt any issues. And so I switched gears; rather than write about what this particular student does to annoy her teachers who she does not like, or talk about how insulting the mother was to my colleague and me, I’ll skip right to the point that I think I was going to lead into.

Why do parents think that their attitude-rich, participation-free kids are any different in school than at home? Why do they think that their every interpretation of events in school is exact when they know that there have been evasions, half-truths, and even outright lies coming their way from said prodigy? Why do they think that we have to make their kids meet their expectations? And why do they belittle us when they expect so much from us?

Which reminds me of an incident I had this week with another student. He was mad that I apparently threw out his homework in my effort to derail his attempt to get his grade up. Yes, it seems that I did that to give him an undeserved zero because,it is clear, I do not like him. On day two of his contest of wills with me he looked through the folder where work goes if a student is absent on the day the materials are returned. Lo and behold, there it was. But with one little problem: there was no name on the paper. That must be my fault.

Why are we always to blame if something doesn’t go right? Why is my co-teacher blamed for her daughter not doing her work? And why am I told that I “should pick on someone your own size” if she knows that her daughter gets belligerent if criticism of any kind (and I mean “any”) comes her way? How come I have to figure out how to deal with this girl when both of her parents deal with her by yelling at her and buying her clothes? 

Seriously, I’m here to teach English, with some ethics lessons mixed in, but I am not their parent and I am not a therapist. And how the heck am I supposed to figure out how to handle the personalities of 125 kids when the parents can barely figure out their one or two or three children who they have had in their homes for years? Why can’t we go back to the good ole days of respecting teachers, bending our fragile children’s personalities to the teachers’ personalities, rather than trying to break the teacher down?

On the same day of my conference, another teacher was dealing with a student and parents who have escalated the “she can’t take this test because the final day to take it has passed” into a big dramatic scenario whereby the teacher is accused of doing something she did not do. (I know this because I was in her room at the time.) So now this teacher has to stress about her reputation and her relations with her students rather than to focus on preparing them for their exams.

Seriously, what is the world coming to? Since I started teaching four years ago I have found the vast majority of the teachers I have worked with or took classes with to be committed to teaching their students, and have cared about their students as people. We spend hours trying to come up with lessons that will excite and intrigue, and to get them to remember those things that don’t excite anyone but need to be remembered. Why is this not seen?

And this is the thanks we get. I shouldn’t focus on the few parents who are nasty to me in meetings or barely veiled condescending emails, but that seems to be the nature of human nature. I should focus on hearing what they have to say, see if there’s any validity, and then figure out how to improve. But honestly, what are they doing when they get home? Are they thinking about how to better discipline or instruct or guide their children or do they feel satisfied that they got a professional to jump through their hoops? We’re professionals for content, not raising kids—that’s the parents’ job. How about the blame game not being so one-sided? How about parents acknowledging their own lacking and seeing if something that they have done could have somehow, maybe, resulted in a child who is belligerent, disrespectful and entitled.

There is a difference between parenting and teaching, and parents need to understand that. And kids need to understand that, too.

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, except for the few goodies from my school, I received one bag of chocolates and a “thank you” card from one student. I will try try try not to let some parents get me down, and I will try to focus on my successes. But it’s darn hard when I’ve got nasty mom reverberating in my head and only the silence of barely uttered “thank you’s” from other parents.

Maybe next year on the syllabus in addition to paper and pencils I should write that students are required to come every day with a positive attitude and a desire to learn.



You teach high school, don't you? These kids are quickly reaching adulthood -- they SHOULD be held to a more adult standard. Seems like a large percentage of parents really suck at their job.
Have you ever seen the movie, "To Sir With Love"?
Might be good to watch it and see if you can crib some new ideas.
By and large, teachers do not get the credit or support they deserve, I feel for you.


Based on your post and my sister's experience, I think it's the people with the absolute worst parenting skills who go "on the attack" with teachers.
Hang in there. It's almost summer.


I'm sorry for what you have to put up with. My husband teaches in primary school and I know that pupils start causing big problems already when they are as young as 8 or 9. I think the problem is lack of respect. Lack of respect of kids towards adults, pupils towards teachers etc. and course, among us, the so-called "adults". Wish you all the best. Ciao. A.


Obviously you know that it goes much deeper than disrespecting teachers...but it is one of the results of this world that we live in...parents are the only people that could change this, but it takes ral work to do this. But most parents are spending too much time medicating themselves with the latest and greatest prescription mind-numbing drugs and not dealing with their own problems, society has been left to deal with their children...who have been taught that they are not at fault for anything....if someone doens't approve of how they behave (or the work they do) than that person is a "hater"...


It's the denial thing. Parents don't want to admit that their child is failing in some way, so they look for someone to blame.

We teach our son to treat school as his job. He needs to be prepared, have the proper materials, do his homework, etc. His biggest complaint (he loves his teachers) is the level of behavior in the classroom being generally pretty bad. His teachers have to spend time every day reprimanding the kids who are screwing around and it takes valuable teaching/learning time away.

When I was a child, if we complained about school or our teachers, my parents didn't want to hear it. We were supposed to suck it up and deal with it. Too bad parents aren't teaching their children to show proper respect for their teachers.


These are the people who will be running our country when wwant to retire. Ack.

But you did make me glad I teach in a blue collar area where my difficult parents try to intimidate me by acting like they can beat me up...


Fifteen years ago, when my son was still in grade school, I got a call at work from his teacher about some fracas he'd been involved in. I listened to her and then said, "I'll talk to him this evening. Don't worry, this won't happen again." To my horror, she burst into tears. When I finally got her to calm down, she told me I was the last of the parents she had to call about the incident, and the only one who did not give her an earful of abuse. Unfortunately, this kind of drive-by parenting has been going on for a while, and I'm really not sure what the solution is.


How about you and the rest of the teachers out there getting paid the wages they rightfully deserve? That's teacher appreciation!

I can imagine this all getting out of hand. I'm sure they all feel that the silliness of their child is misunderstood. It's a slippery slope. I don't know how you do it.


I put up with parents for 32 years and then I retired. Even after being retired for 2 years, these parents still irritate me when I think about the way they acted and the some of the things they said to me. As soon as you meet the parents, there is little doubt as to why their children act as they do.


When I read your article it spoke directly to me and how I feel about education these days. The children we are seeing now are very disrespectful, angry, unsympathetic and undermotivated to do anything; they appear to be in a world of their own and are angry at you for trying to bring them into this world.
Parents on the other hand either are ignorant of their children's behavior or are pretending. Anyhow you take it we never hear the truth from either party. Decisions have to be made on incorrect information including address and telephone numbers.
Gratitude is a thing of the past,no matter what you do they are not satisfied because they expect you to perform a miracle and change what they have done to the children. The children are worst versions of the parents and they seem to think everyone must change to suit their needs; what ever they do you should fix it but don't bother them with it.
One combination we see in children now: lying, cheating, stealing and promiscuity

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)