Teachers get a lot of interesting emails and phone calls. And is it just me, or has it been a whole lot worse over the last year? We all understand that parents have the best interest of their child at heart, but sometimes the things parents say are totally ridiculous. And it’s really, really hard to compose a professional response, especially when we can’t stop laughing.
See if you recognize any of the following comments.
1. “Can you call us every night and tell us what the homework is?”
Of course. I have nothing better to do. Said no teacher ever. I understand that some students need additional supports, but in general, knowing that night’s homework is the child’s responsibility. And I don’t know about you, but I provide my students with planners with that information.
2. “When is my child going to get an award?”
Excuse me? I always hated when we were required to give every child an award. I mean, I tried to spread the wealth when it came to recognition and honor a wide variety of behaviors, but I don’t appreciate when there’s an expectation of something for nothing.
3. “He didn’t have time to study. He had basketball practice.”
Maybe we should re-examine those priorities, mmm-kay?
4. “Why can’t you just teach math the way I learned it?”
This is often uttered in the same breath as “I was never good at math.” Hey, did you ever consider that those two things might be related? I know “new math” can be tough to wrap your head around, but we know rote memorization by itself doesn’t work. They’ll learn the algorithm, too, but not before they understand the concepts behind it.
5. “She’s never gotten a grade this low before.”
Oh, is that so? Let me take a look at their transcript and current grades in other classes.
6. “If you give him a B, he’s not going to get into his first-choice college.”
Maybe if he can’t meet the admission requirements for his first-choice college, he shouldn’t be admitted? Isn’t that how it works? (P.S. He earned a B.)
7. “She’s gifted.”
What parent doesn’t want to believe this about their child? Unfortunately, some parents have quite a bit of bias when determining the extent of their child’s talents. Sometimes, younger kids show a strong ability in certain subjects. Eventually, their peers catch up to them, but Mom and Dad will cling to the fact that, five years ago, for about a week, their child was the best in their class at adding two-digit numbers. While it’s fantastic for parents to have such positive opinions of their children, it’s also healthy to understand their weaknesses and the fact that as kids grow, their abilities change.
8. “He said he’s not the only one who’s misbehaving, but he’s the only one who gets in trouble.”
Teachers don’t share disciplinary actions with students. Just because a kid may not see or hear another kid get in trouble, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t. Also, let’s be honest: Sometimes, kids may not have a complete—or truthful—recollection of the entire situation.
9. “We’re actually going on vacation the week before Spring Break. Will he miss anything?”
No, we’ll just sit and wait for his return. We definitely won’t be trying to finish up a unit, complete with review and test, before break or anything like that.
10. “And if he will miss anything, can you get it all together before we leave, so he can do it in the car?”
A good teacher keeps their lessons flexible and is able to respond to the needs of their students. I may have a general idea of what my week will look like, but it could easily change. And let’s not pretend that everything I do can be recreated in the form of a worksheet. Every time I have supplied a student with a packet of work, the student has returned with a blank packet.
11. “She said the test had things on it that you didn’t teach.”
Oh yes. This sounds like exactly the kind of thing I would do.
12. “I think you should …”
Umm… how about I don’t tell you how to parent, and you don’t tell me how to teach?
13. “I just want you to know, we support you.”
OK, the truth is, most parents are pretty awesome! For every one that just doesn’t seem to get it, there are many, many more who do. And we teachers really appreciate their understanding and support.