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Letter from a difficult parent. #1: I’m a teacher too

At some point it’s likely that you will encounter a parent or guardian who has specific concerns about your ability to cater for their child’s needs. Whilst they may come across as difficult or even uncooperative, keep in mind that they just want what’s best for their child’s education.

 

More posts in this series on how to deal with difficult parents:

#2: My child is very able

#3: My child has health issues

 

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Letter from a difficult parent: I’m a teacher too

Firstly, I know too much. I haven’t just looked up the information about schools and levels and national standards, I really know about them. I’m a teacher myself, so I know about where my child should be, the curriculum they should be covering and what the Ofsted report really means. They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but with my child, it is a lot of knowledge that makes it hard for you. You simply cannot fob me off with jargon or standard phrases because I can read between the lines. Please don’t give my child end of year levels that are ‘dumbed’ down so as to show more progress at a later stage. I will know when they are wrong and I will challenge you over them. You might see me as being demanding, but I just want things to be done properly.

You ought to remember that homework is my biggest link between home and school. What my child brings home is the clue to how well they are doing and what they have been covering in class. I might tell you that the reading book is too easy, but it’s not that I’m being difficult, I realise how hard it is to hear so many children read and make sure they are all reading books they should be reading, I’m actually just trying to help you, by pointing it out. I will also write helpful notes on the homework, to show you where there was help given or where my child struggled. I do know it is different at home, where it is one to one, so I like to make it clear in order for the homework to be helpful to you when you mark it. I am a difficult parent, how are you going to help me?

 

After reading through the scenario, think about how you would approach a parent such as this:

  • What would be your automatic response?
  • How would you try to tackle the situation?
  • Would this be the best for everyone involved?

 

Teacher’s response:

I know who you are, I’ve heard all about you and I’m not going to run away and hide. I will give you the time you need to talk to me, but it will have to be planned. I realise there is a lot you will want to say so I want to give you a proper opportunity to speak to me, not just a few snatched moments before or after school or in public.

I know you are a teacher and I respect your experience. I will listen to you when you let me know about the homework being too hard or too easy and I like the notes you write on it. It is very helpful to see what your child is doing at home and how much help he needs. I know that you understand the levels and the jargon and I will talk to you openly and honestly. I will tell you quickly if there is any sort of problem where I feel your child is not achieving as they should and not leave it until parent consultations to spring things on you. I will also tell you when your child is doing really well and show you things you will be proud of.

I also know that you have particular expertise and whilst I understand you want to be a parent whilst at this school I will ask your opinion if it is relevant. I know you know a lot about reading for example, so if you think a particular book would be great for your child or the class, let me know.

Finally I want to say we value having you as a parent and we understand the needs of your child. All of the staff will do everything they can to support your child right through the school.

 

How did your response compare to this example?:

  • In what areas were you similar?
  • Were there any differences in your approach?

 


Have you had any problems with parents who teach?

How did you deal with any situations that arose?

Share your experiences and guidance to teachers facing similar issues:

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Further expand your knowledge of how to effectively work with parents by booking onto one of our courses:

 

Jacqueline Harris

A passionate advocate of high quality teaching and learning for all children, Jacqueline has been raising standards in reading and writing in schools involved in the Communication, Language and Literacy Development Programme (CLLD) for many years. She specialises in phonics and the use of high quality children’s books, and improving leadership and teaching in schools.

Jacqueline has a comprehensive knowledge of teaching and developing literacy skills in all pupils from pre-school to Year 8 and an ability to use data to target areas needed for raised performance. She has been a subject leader for maths, history, geography, modern languages, gifted and talented and RE at various points in her career. She also has extensive experience as a Deputy Headteacher, Local Authority Consultant and Initial Teacher Trainer.

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