When I was in school, my parents almost always supported my teachers’ rules. If there was a problem, they almost always stood behind the teacher, upholding the class procedures and consequences. Today, unfortunately, too many parents complain about the teachers when their kids are in the wrong.
When I taught high school, I had one student in particular who came late to class, slept through lessons, and didn’t turn in assignments. But when she got an F on her term paper for not following the guidelines and doing it properly, her mother was promptly on the phone with me, telling me that I was in the wrong and needed to change her daughter’s grade.
Scenes like this are becoming more and more common in an already difficult profession. So chances are that if you haven’t already encountered complaining parents, you will. The following tips will help you devise a plan to deal with parental conflict when it arises and stay confident in your class rules and consequences.
Outline Classroom Objectives
Outline your classroom objectives at the beginning of the year, listing the rules, procedures, and consequences for your classroom. Give each student a copy, go through it with them in class, and make them get a parent’s signature, showing the parent has read it as well. If a parent questions your methods later in the year, you can pull out a copy of the handout, as well as the parent’s signature, showing they were aware of the classroom procedures from the beginning.
Keep a Record of All Assignments Given
Keeping a record of all homework assignments and projects is not only a good idea to show your advisors and administration what you’re doing, but it’s good to be able to show parents as well. If a parent wants to know more about what’s going on in the classroom and what’s expected of his or her child, you can easily go over the assignments you’ve given, even making copies for the parent to take home. This way, the parent has a tangible record of what’s being required, instead of just taking the student’s word for it.
Make Sure Consequences Align With School Standards
It’s a lot easier to enforce rules and consequences when you have the support of the administration. If your school already outlines a school-wide practice for discipline, adhering to it in your classroom as well will provide built-in support. If a parent questions your methods, you can easily point out that not only is it the standard in your classroom, but the policies run school-wide. This takes some of the pressure off of you as an individual teacher, and also makes it simple to get additional support from other teachers, supervisors, and principals.
Enlist the Support of the Administration
If your school does not have one cohesive policy for discipline, but instead it’s left up to the individual teachers, make sure your administration has copies of your procedures and consequences. Go through your policies with your superiors and make sure they support the measures you’ve outlined for your students. That way, if a parent complains, you can easily get additional support from administrators if needed. This provides you with an extra level of support and backing that’s helpful when going against a particularly agitated parent.
Remain Open To Meetings
Teachers are people too, with personal lives and commitments, but having some level of availability for parents to talk out their concerns is important. Have a time when parents can come and talk to you about concerns that may arise throughout the year. Most schools have conferences around the time report cards are issued, but this can be a busy time and not the best to address deeper concerns. If parents know that you are available and willing to speak with them, they may be more open to what you have to say, and hopefully more supportive after meeting with you.