The teachers in today’s world are facing many challenges out of which the greatest challenge is to deal with difficult parents. Representing yourself on behalf of the school and getting to know your student’s families is sure a nerve-racking and hard experience. To make the job more difficult, they hardly get any training and counseling in it.
At present, there is no proper guidebook for the teachers. Gone are the days when teachers ruled the parent’s teachers meeting. Today, the teachers are being blamed for every mistake his/her child makes. So, to relieve some stress from your profession, following are few tips that will pull your sleeves tight.
Parental Engagement is Just Part of your Job
The profession of a teacher is just not limited to teaching. It is about to engage with the careers, parents and the families of the student. To become a great teacher, one will have to play many different roles, out of which engaging and handling parents play the lead role.
No matter what the parents say, listen to them patiently and then prove your point strongly. Stand your ground no matter what, but never lose patience or raise your voice as you are presenting yourself and your school to the outside world.
Never blindly follow your colleagues view about your students. Prepare yourself, know about the student in-depth and interview with many students and teachers. The final say should be your conclusions based on your research and never allow others to shape your view.
Do not focus on the word Difficult Parents. Instead, take it as a challenge and act wisely and smartly. No matter what, they are just parents who want the best of their child. They may be difficult for experiencing the same in their early years. It is just that they have high expectations for their child, and wants it to be fulfilled at your capable hands.
Time and place matters
The meetings are mostly conducted in the school premises and always results as formal conversations. Instead, the teachers can plan to meet the parents outside the school at their convenience. This would give a great and wide opportunity to open up with the teachers. The parents will be able to talk freely and you will be amazed to see their behavior and approach. The meetings should be more about learning and solving their problems rather than some interrogations.
This is also one of the most important things, the teacher must always keep in mind. If a student lacks basics or has difficulties in learning, do not wait till the end year. Involve the parents at the earliest. Through this, one can avoid many big problems in the future and also offer support to parents by counseling and guiding them about their child progress. Be alert always as you are the only person, the parents can be depended on. You have got the power and chance to change the future of the child. As soon as you see some negative behavior in the child, inform the parents and the higher authority. Few things that have to be discussed with the parents are
- The areas where the child excels
- If the child has an attention problem
- How strong the child stands in academics.
- Few specific difficulties
- Ways that can be helped to overcome the difficulties at home
- Interaction with other students
- Time taken to complete his tasks
- Give a chance to let the parents share their concerns and encourage them to ask questions
Listen to the parents
Just like how your words would like to reach listening ears, the same goes with the parents. They like to be listened and not dismissed. The teachers should show them they understand and present them with possible solutions. Try earning the trust of parents by just listening and you will be saved in the long run. Try making the parents understand that your aim is only to see their child succeed in the future and that you have no intentions to punish or harm the child. Make them understand by giving lots of examples and let the parents know about your expectations from you towards the child.
Apart from these, there are also a few basic tips when meeting the parents on their first meet.
- Always be polite. When parents approach you, make an effort by standing up and shake hands firmly. Ask general questions about them like how was the day and offer them some drinks. The point should be to make them comfortable instead of stressing them.
- The language plays a very important role in the meetings. Choose your words carefully for any word even by mistake would hurt the parents and the students deeply.
- Listen to them with a smile in your face. Ask them about what they would like to discuss at the beginning and troubles faced by the students at home.
- Do not start the conversation with the complaints of the child. This will only add fuel to the fire. Instead, start by praising the child for his achievements and then slowly and gradually let the parents know where their child lacks.
- Try working with the parents and not against them. The aim of the meeting should be accomplished and the parents should leave the place happy and satisfied.
- Make sure that you keep in contact with the parents and be available for regular chats and meetings. The profession of the teacher’s demands 24/7 job. So, one should always be ready to help anytime anywhere.
- If you get to face an angry, upset or an aggressive parent, the first and foremost point to remember is to never ever react. Be calm and instead ask for the reason for negative emotions. Assure them that you are always available to them and their child and wants only the best to both of them.
- Do not stare blindly at someone. They may feel a lot insecure and uncomfortable. Instead, sit by their side or look somewhere else probably desk or even take a casual walk. This way, you can make the situation less intense.
- Be prepared to know the full and true story before being confronted by the parents. Welcome them to discuss the matter and let them know that you are always ready to help.
Time is the most powerful tool in the world. It is something which cannot be brought but have to be given with full dedication and true intent. Make an offer to the parents by giving your time to them and their child or volunteering for something good. Though it is a small gesture, it will surely leave a big impact on them for many years.
Know that few people are just argumentative, abrasive or difficult. They wish no harm or do not want to hurt you intentionally. So, never take anything personally and carry it on in your heart. They are always like that by nature and one will never know what he/she faces in their day to day life for their nature. Instead of focusing on their behavior and nature, anchor it on the main issue and problems and try to uplift them by encouragement and motivation.
You can actually deal with difficult parents with ease and deftness by just being kind. Do not react to their insults and turn a deaf ear to their arguments. Make sure, you present yourself with kindness and smile, every time you meet or interact with them. It will surely make them uncomfortable seeing your smiley face and they will try to be good and polite as much as possible.
Never pressurize yourself. There may be situations when parents would want their child to upgrade a class or allow him to pass some tests or competitions. Stay strong in these situations and follow your professional ethics strictly. Do not get compromised on any situations and never go easy in these matters. The parents may try their level best to upgrade their child even though if he lacks the required requirements. Present your point strictly and also follow it more strictly.
The teacher must know when to close the conversations. Not all parents have a happy ending. Some may get angry, abusive or get emotional. But there are also few parents who may cause harm or be abusive. Stop your point and quit the conversation. It sure will reach the higher authority, but it doesn’t matter as they will support you and that is how the system usually works. Know your board policy or contract and be prepared for the worst case, if the parents go for the formal complaint.
There are a few cases where nothing just works. No tactics or tips. So the best and the smart move is to involve the administration, union representation or law enforcement for the betterment of yourself and others around you for there are some who are just overly irrational, abusive or dangerous. The most important of all, be safe.