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Home : 2002 : Feb : 22

    Dealing with parents
    By Kathy

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    Here's what I "try" to do:

    1. Thank the parent for contacting me. (This can be sincere. I'd rather have them come to me than go to someone else. I encourage my parents to ask if they have a question.)

    2. Restate the problem for clarification. (This is what I hear you saying.)

    3. Ask them what they would like me to do about the situation. (Like you say, sometimes they can't come up with the "perfect answer" either!)

    4. Reclarify the solution agreed upon. (It's not always possible to bend, but if I can do it without sacrificing learning or principle I'm usually willing to try.)

    5. Thank them again for contacting me and tell them I'll be in touch with them in a couple weeks to see how things are going.

    6. Follow-through with the contact.

    That's my "master plan" which has worked pretty well in my 20+ years. I have had excellent luck with parents during my teaching career and I think most of that is just keeping the lines of communication open. I actually had a principal tell me I was the only teacher in the school a parent hadn't complained to him about. (Which was certainly not the most "professional" remark on his part!) But that was a surprise to me since I certainly heard from them enough myself!! So getting the "suggestions" firsthand isn't all bad!

    Having said all this, I can sympathize with you! I'm afraid I don't handle criticism well so it's a real challenge to follow the "plan" with a smile. Some of my "favorite" notes over the years:

    #1 Please make sure I give their child time to get their coat on before they leave. (Of course, I stand at the door and tell them they don't have time to get their coat before leaving!!)

    #2 Please make sure the child doesn't take scissors home as she might hurt her sister with them. (Of course, I stand at the door every night reminding the kids not to forget to take home their scissors!!)

    #3 Please keep their child in from recess until further notice. (This from the parent of my most "hyper" child. When I followed up on this one, she said he was getting his clothes dirty when he played!!)

    #4 One parent gave me a lengthy explanation about how boys and girls were different. (Well, duh!!)

    #5 (My all time favorite!!) Teachers don't really care about the kids. They're just in it for the money. (This comment was so absurd, I had trouble not bursting out laughing!!)

    So chin up! The notes and calls will come...though I have received considerably less than I did my first years teaching. One thing I have discovered--parents who volunteer in the classroom usually have only the highest praise for teachers. They see the "real world."

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