Working with parents is a very large part of the job of a teacher. Sometimes parents disagree with your methods, something that happened with another child, the workload/homework etc. In this blogpost, I hope to share some tips for working with a parent who is angry.
If a parent tries to approach you on the playground/ in the corridor to discuss an issue then apologise and explain that you cannot meet them at the moment but you will call them after school to arrange an appointment. This gives the parent a chance to think about what they want to say and it gives you a chance to make sure you are prepared for any meetings. (Make sure to have your notes ready, samples of the child’s work etc.)
Let them talk
If a parent is upset/annoyed/angry about an issue then let them talk. Don’t interrupt – just let them voice their opinions/concerns/problems. Listen carefully and jot down some notes so you can refer back to them when the parent is finished.
Smile and thank the parent for bringing the issue to your attention. Stay calm – even if you feel you are being treated unfairly.
You don’t have to have the perfect answer/solution to the problem/issue right away. Thank the parent for bringing the issue to your attention and give them a time frame for when you will get back to them. (A week is probably a good amount of time for you to have a chance to think things through, put a solution in place or seek advice from colleagues/management.)
We all make mistakes. If you didn’t make the right choice/ handled a situation badly then admit you were wrong and apologise.
After a week or so, ring the parent and ask about the issue/problem or discuss the steps that have been put in place to try to resolve the issue.
If necessary speak to the principal/vice principal/ year head about the situation.
Sometimes the problem/issue has nothing to do with you, sometimes issues/problems can be blown out of proportion and maybe the real issue is something completely different. I know it can be very difficult but try not to take it personally.