September 7, 2011

On Parents and Educators

Last night, I came across this great article on CNN called "What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents." It highlights many of the biggest frustrations teachers and administrators have with parents and gives suggestions for how parents should handle situations differently.

I can't tell you how many times my coworkers and I have said, "My job would be so much easier if I didn't have to deal with the parents!" Parent-teacher conferences, in every school district I've ever known, are always followed up with staff outings to the local watering hole because we all need a good drink after those meetings. 

Now, before every parent out there gets offended, please know that we, of course, don't mean every parent. In fact, most parents are just fine. But, like in every other facet of life, there are always a few that ruin it for the rest of you.

My biggest complaints have been:
  1. Parents who care more about their child's grades than about what the child is actually learning. These are the ones who will question every lost point because the most important thing in life is that their 12 year old receives straight As (notice, I said receives, not earns).
  2. Parents who have a simple concern, but rather than discussing it with me first, they go straight to the Principal to complain. And then I get called into the Principal's office (yes, this is still scary as a teacher) about something I have no idea is an issue.
  3. Parents who take no responsibility for raising their children themselves. We call these the Dry Cleaner Parents because they want to drop them off at 8:00 and pick them up in perfect condition at 3:00. Any behavior, academic or social-emotional issues need to be dealt with during the school day because it's our issue, not theirs.
  4. Parents who act powerless to help their children, even when the issues are simple. We had a child a couple years ago who fell asleep in class every day. His parents told us that he has a diagnosed sleep disorder, but then they also mentioned he stays up all night playing video games or on his ipod touch. "What are we supposed to do?" his father asked us in dismay.
  5. Parents who assume, "Those who can't, teach," and treat us with zero respect. We once had a parent angrily lean across the table and tell us, "You don't understand how the real world works!" and then went on to explain how he was so great because he wrote a master's thesis in like two days. Little did he know, he was sitting at a table of people who held master's degrees and experience in Corporate America.
The bottom line, parents, is that you need to stop treating your childrens' teachers as the enemy. Trust that they have your childrens' best interests at heart and that they, like you, want to help them succeed. It makes it easier for everyone when we can work together to accomplish our goals.


  1. Amen! Amen! Amen! {And I'm a parent!} I know lots of the parents you refer to in this Erin! I vow to be a parent that is receptive to teachers feedback and rather than blaming ANYONE, work at helping find solutions.

  2. I would love to be your childrens' teacher, Samara! :)

  3. I agree with all that you said. You are an exceptionally intuitive teacher who is able (and willing) to address your students individual needs.

    My children have had excellent teachers tell me things I wasn't thrilled to hear about my kids (yet true); but they also had teachers that were mean, unfair, and did NOT have my child's best interest at heart.

    Um, "Let's have a parent conference to discuss your child's messy desk and wasting of paper." Never mind the child had recently scored well in the 90's in all areas on the standardized tests but was getting C's in class. And the issue is a messy desk?

    Unfortunately, there are the few crappy teachers that ruin it for the majority of teachers like you, Erin. I hope and pray that you are able to rise above the nasty parents that continually challenge your altruism. The students need you. Hang on to that.