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In tears over comment from parents again(23 Posts)
I’ve never had the highest self-confidence. One of the reasons I wanted to become a teacher was to become more outgoing and authoritative. And it’s worked, on the whole.
But lately I’ve had some really difficult comments from parents, attacking my character in a number of way.
That sounds tough for you. What level do you teach at and what kind of support do you have?
I really hope you have a good line manager who has your back? Some parents can really overstep the mark and it can feel very personal and at times extremely rude.
Can I ask what elements of your character they're attacking?
Some parents can be absolutely vile to teachers and other staff in school. Rest assured they will be vile to anyone in life they deem to be either beneath them or daring to criticise their darling offspring. Make sure you get support from your HOD and anyone else you can talk to. They shouldn't have you in tears.
I do have a very supportive LM, couldn’t ask for for more really. I’m okay, just worn down and looking for reassurance it’s not just me.
The thing I find hardest is the implication I have some personal issue / issues with a child. I don’t hold grudges against any child - I don’t even think like that. The lesson ends and I move on. I just try to be the best teacher I can, for all of my students.
I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am for the free healthcare I’ve been receiving recently - and wondering why we don’t have the same respect for teachers.
I am not sure everyone is massively grateful to all healthcare providers either. We are in public service and sadly some people literally think of us as servile. I think you have probably learned not to take things kids say to heart? Try to do the same with difficult parents if you can. Sometimes you are bearing the brunt of their own stresses in reading little Dorinda or Horace.
OP, following a couple of similar incidents in the school where I am CoG, I sent a stern note to parents explaining what would happen if they were rude to staff. Sadly I have had to ban some parents and siblings from school premises for their behaviour. Do not suffer in silence.
Thanks piggy, I definitely don’t take comments from kids to hearts these days - I suppose it feels harder from other adults, and I can’t really retaliate so feel the situation is out of my control / power
Thanks latte. I’ve had experiences with similar before - used to work at much ‘rougher’ schools and had a parent threaten to come down reception and beat me up. The more middle-class sniping feels harder to deal with in many ways
There is nothing worse than an arsey parent, in the school I work at (not as a teacher, but support) the head has no problems banning parents from speaking to teaching staff if they feel threatened in anyway. Hope you can get some support. X
I should add, I don't do it lightly but the final decision sits with me and I will not countenance death threats, threats of violence etc. But not will I allow vexatious and repeated complaints.
As staff you have a right to feel safe and happy at school and one of my jobs is to make sure that happens.
Parents cannot accept that their child is not perfect. Therefore it must be you in the wrong. Once you accept that, the comments roll off your back easier.
This is horrible. You need to get your SMT on board with this.
They need to make sure that ALL parents are aware that personal verbal attacks on staff are unacceptable. Needs to be written clearly in information to new parents, on the website, in newsletters and other communications. You , and your colleagues , have the right to work in a safe , supportive environment.
One thing we did in the past with parents who were known to be nasty was to make sure that any interaction between them and teachers eg parents evenings , requested meetings, was monitored , preferably by a member of the SMT, but if not by another staff member. It is probably slightly easier to do this in a primary setting , but not impossible in a secondary.
They could seeing you as the person that 'picked on' them as a child, not as their child's teacher.
If they felt that a teacher had it in for them and made them miserable at school, when their kid moans that Miss PC gave them detention when they're weren't even doing anything, they could assume that
a) Their child is upset and they don't want their baby to be upset
b) Their child is always lovely at home and could never be a complete little shit or bone idle brat for anybody who was nice to them
c) That all teachers are the same as the one that gave them detention or made them cry aged 13.
What sort of things are they complaining about? Behaviour Management? Sanctions? Grades?
It could be that you do have things you could work on - it could be that you are being subconsciously harsher on them because you know they don't have the same degree of deprivation and disadvantage that your previous students did, or that you react strongly to argumentative little wotsits because they're so much better at digging at you subtly over hours.
Or it could be simply that they just haven't realised a lot of lovely children undergo a complete personality change once they travel in packs through the school gate and have to shut up, sit down and do as they are told; some of the kids with the worst behaviour records for rudeness/disruption in class can be absolutely lovely to the staff that they don't see as making them do things they don't want to do - and also behave brilliantly at home.
I found moving from an Inadequate school with huge levels of deprivation was a completely different world to the Outstanding, much higher average income, fewer single parent families, almost no PPG student, school.
For a start, I was having to deal with children who would simply cry at me anytime I said 'No' and expected to go home as soon as they said their tummy hurt or they had a bruise on their knee. Mum was always able to leave work (if she worked at all) and be there in the car within twenty minutes or Dad could take the rest of the week off to look after them - no telling me there was no point calling because she wasn't able to take calls/couldn't afford to leave early/might lose her job and, in any case, they had their siblings to pick up from Primary and look after until 8pm - and, of course, their parents were, having given them that nice, safe, gentle life, extremely defensive of them if they thought they were being treated harshly or unkindly.
In comparison, with the kids at the Inadequate school, somebody speaking to them firmly but not unpleasantly was probably the kindest things they'd heard all week. So they wouldn't be complaining.
I also think that the parents of your new school are probably very good at tapping into exactly the right words to get to you, as maybe you come from a similar background? Somebody threatening to come up the school and Sort You Out is horrible, but it's alien and obviously wrong, whereas the slight derision and change in tone to make you feel shit is exactly what hurt you when you were a child You don't have the same level of defence against that sort of bollocks.
Whatever way it is, if you've looked, reflected and decided that it is unfair and you are doing things right, you would be entirely reasonable to work on pretending/letting them think their words have absolutely zero effect upon you.
Totally feel your pain re: middle-class sniping! I work for the NHS and I can assure you that we often get a barrage of hateful comments. You learn to have a thick skin or you can't survive. I think, unfortunately, that we do have the same respect for teachers as for health workers. Possibly more to be honest. Assaults are quite common in the NHS and can be minimised though there is work going on with the local police force to try and change that. It's no comfort I'm sure but you are at least not alone in this boat. I hope you LM can see through the passive aggressive middle-class BS and see the actual bullying.
@LochJessMonster I’m going to try and think about it that way.
@viques thank you, I’m definitely going to protect myself. Last year I had a really difficult parent at parents evening - she was really quite nasty to me. These days I wouldn’t tolerate it, I would have ended the meeting, so I’m getting better at setting boundaries. Recently I’ve just not responded to shitty comments.
Thank you @MitziK for your very insightful comments.
Funnily enough I come from a very working class background - single mum, benefits, council house, FSM, childhood neglect - the lot! Your comment has made me think that perhaps the middle class sniping is actually tapping into some insecurities I still have regarding class and my social position. I was always the odd one out in a sea of privilege (grammar school, extremely posh uni). It made me laugh when a parent threatened to ‘do me in’ because I grew up with that sort of language. I find the scathing MC comments far more bruising.
I’d never say my practice is perfect, there are things I can always improve. But I’m not the person I’m being made to feel I am.
You’ve really given me a bunch to reflect on, thank you.
@73Sunglasslover you must be right of course but the idea of abusing someone giving me free, essential healthcare... I can’t get my head around it.
My pleasure. I'm from a background like yours.
I've probably had a lot longer to cultivate the ability to keep a foot in both worlds; I've dealt with bigger and tougher, whether it's in terms of aa smack in the face or whether it's in terms of insidious pecking and trying to inflict a death of a thousand cuts.
The more middle-class sniping feels harder to deal with in many ways
I agree with this. I once worked at a school where some parents would constantly complain about the most ridiculous, unreasonable thing, which I know took it's toll on the staff over time. This was a very well-regarded private school, which is why I always have a wry smile on my face when I see posts where people suggest/assert that working in an private school will somehow be an easy ride.
I can't directly relate from a teaching point of view but I've seen some pretty horrific instances as a parent on the playground. I work in isolation in online retail and when customers send vile messages and accusations it's hard not to take it to heart and overthink, especially as I work on my own. I believe in many ways in teaching you're on your own too because you're the one adult in charge standing in class.
I had some really good advice about writing out then learning standard script responses for various different scenarios and it's significantly helped me step back from the response and remove emotion.
I wonder if a few scripts and stock phrases could help with firmly but fairly dealing with your interactions too.
I've only experienced this in private schools. Reflecting on @MitziK's insightful post, there is a subtle but definite class difference between me (MC, encouraged to be grateful and not demanding at my grammar school) and the monied parents I now deal with - who are 99% charming but in my first year one did try to bully me. At soon as I involved SLT they sat on it hard.
You could maybe ring the Education Support Partnership for advice. It's free, I think.
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