Oh, parent teacher conferences – the absolute worst time for us all. Every teacher I’ve ever had dreads the experience even if a child is a saint. Parents are never thrilled about it because it’s usually a waste of time. And as the child who always had to attend these things, all the fake-ness made me sick.
The following Teachers on Ask Reddit shared the worst conference experiences they’ve had with a parent.
Interested in more stories. Take a look at the original thread at the end of the article.
A decade ago, I had an 8th grade student who was in all remedial classes. Her life’s ambition at the time was to be like the girls on Jersey Shore and to have a part on a reality show. I didn’t have her for any academic classes, only a less than 30 minute homeroom. One day I called her mother to try to get a form signed and returned, and I let her mother know that she had been in trouble in homeroom for some very loud, very sexually explicit talk that she wouldn’t stop after being repeatedly warned.
The mother went berserk. She demanded to know exactly what her daughter had said, and I was ready with some quotes. That morning the kid had been going on and on about “a super big dildo.” The mother demanded a conference immediately, so I let the team leader know, and he scheduled one.
The teachers who had the kid for academic classes were astounded. They had been trying to get the parent to come in or at least respond to anything all year but she was ‘never available’. The parent, before the conference, attempted to call me multiple times daily, leaving furious, accusatory messages about all the terrible “lies” I was telling. She claimed that I was a sick person and that her daughter knew NOTHING about sex and had no idea what a dildo even was.
The day of the conference arrives and the parent shows up red-faced and fairly vibrating with anger. The academic teachers start to speak to her about her child disrupting their classes, never completing assignments and more but the parent cuts them off. She announces that her child has some shocking news to disclose about me.
I was about 6 or 7 months pregnant at this time. The child lifts her head and with tears in her eyes says that I had traumatized her, because I said that I hated my baby and wished I could just get rid of it, and that she couldn’t even look at me without wanting to cry, because of how awful I was.
It was like a crazy scripted reveal moment from one of the reality shows the girl was obsessed with. It was utterly surreal.
I cut her off. I told her that it was laughably transparent that she was trying to take the heat off of herself by making outrageous and irrelevant accusations, and that I was disgusted that her mother would fall for something so ridiculous. Then I told the parent to pipe down and listen to the academic teachers because her kid wouldn’t make it out of 8th grade if something didn’t change. I had the girl put into another homeroom on the spot, got my enormous self upright, and waddled the heck out of there.
When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher was accused of failing a girl because she was black. The girl herself never said anything about it, but her parents sure did.
When it came time for a conference, everyone was there: the girl, her parents, the principal, a counselor, my mentor, and me.
My mentor let the parents have their say, explain their reasoning (there wasn’t much) and continue to accuse her of being racist.
Once it was her turn to reply, my mentor reached into her bag and pulled out a family portrait. It was of herself, her black husband, and their biracial daughter. She just set it on the table and the girl’s parents immediately stood up and left.
I haven’t seen anything like it, or as hilarious, since.
I had a student who was confirmed as being sexually abused by her stepfather. He was a convicted sexual offender on parole who was living with the mother and 2 other children when he was found to be raping his stepdaughter and was immediately sent back to prison and charged with rape.
The mother came into the yearly conference and immediately started complaining that her daughter’s grades had slipped from all As and Bs to all Cs, Ds, and Fs. She said her daughter was “lazy” and a “liar.” I wanted to jump across the table and punch her over and over again!
The mother claimed to the police and again in court that her daughter made it all up. The daughter only came forward when she discovered that her stepfather had started raping her 9-year-old sister. She had kept quiet until then because he threatened to rape the younger sister if the older daughter (aged 13) said anything. He started molesting her when she was eight.
But the mother just kept harping on how her daughter was lazy and uncooperative. I’ve never wanted to harm another adult as much as I did that woman.
Mine story is a little different. No angry parents, just ‘ew’.
I was teaching Grade 7 during my internship and was speaking to the parent of a high needs student. Without going into too much detail, the girl we were speaking of had little to no long term or working memory, and limited ability to communicate needs and wants.
Anyway, her mother was complaining to us about the bus driver and told us “Anne had scabies last month and I don’t think he even bothered cleaning her seat on the bus…”
My partner teacher and I just stared at each other for a second. The mother hadn’t informed the school about the kid having scabies…we hadn’t cleaned her desk, the couches, or anything else. And I let this kid hug me every day.
I took like 6 showers that night.
I had a meeting with a student who was failing 10th grade English and her dad. He marches into my classroom and says “I don’t like my daughter’s grade. What can you do to make this right?”
Dude. This isn’t a restaurant. I’m not going to compensate for your daughter’s grade because you threw a fit. If your kid hasn’t done her work or come to a single tutoring session, that’s not my fault.
My wife is an elementary school teacher and suspected that one of her students may be autistic. The kid wouldn’t communicate well at all, had issues with using the bathroom, and showed other classic signs of autism.
My wife had a conference with the mother and explained that she would like him to be evaluated, but the mother refused and said that if her son did have autism, my wife was the one who caused it.
My wife has learned to handle those situations much differently now. Being accused of causing autism will do that.
I’m a seventh and eighth grade teacher in Philadelphia. This young man’s mom had gotten him identified as “gifted” – when I taught him, he was failing multiple classes, refused to do any work, slept through classes, and took no responsibility. She came in to conference (all the teachers are in the same room and parents circulate), ignored everyone except for two of us. She interrupted an ongoing conference the math teacher was having to berate him for being a race-traitor and bringing down her son out of ignorance, came over to me (I’m the English teacher) and when I stood up and extended my hand, she just looked at it.
She then looked me in the eye and told me “No. You’re not even worth it.” She turned around and started out of the room, cursing the staff to no one in particular. The Spanish teacher tried to talk to her and got cursed out, so the Spanish teacher called security to have her escorted out of the building. The mom then tried to use evasive maneuvers to avoid security, but was eventually caught and escorted out, told she was no longer welcome on our premises. She tried to sneak in to the next conference, but was caught.
Follow-up story: This was her middle child, her oldest had already graduated from the school (Kindergarten to grade 8) and her youngest was in 3rd grade. When the youngest was in 5th grade, they went on a trip to Canada, and she followed – against direct instruction from administration – in her own car. She showed up at the place they were having dinner (where there wasn’t a seat for her, so she sat at her own table and ordered something for herself).
She then tried to stay at the hotel where the kids were staying, and when there wasn’t an extra room, she tried to go in where her kid was. When that (obviously) didn’t work out to her expectations, she took her kid and drove back home that night…
So, yeah, she sucked.
I had a mother come in on parent/teacher night with her daughter in tow (this isn’t allowed but a lot of parents do it). The girl is on an Individualized Education Program, but I’d never had to offer her any accommodations or modifications. She was a terrific student with a 99% average. I told her mother as such and said I would also like to see the girl speak up more and not be afraid of her voice. She was always volunteering in class but when she spoke, she did so in a whisper. She was confident in her knowledge but not confident in letting people hear her.
The mother said “What can she improve?” I laughed but the mom looked very serious so I just said, “Honestly, nothing really. She has a 99% average. There’s not much to improve on.”
The mother said “I understand that, but what about everything else? How is her organization?” I replied that I didn’t know of any problems with organization, seeing as she turned in all her homework on time and was obviously prepared for every test and quiz. Her mom pressed me further to tell her something her daughter was doing poorly at, so I apologized for not having anything to add other than that her daughter was a model student. I gave the poor girl a wink as they left and hoped she’d find the humor in the situation.
This doesn’t sound like an awful conference experience. But the following week, the girl’s performance tanked. She couldn’t find her homework, she was suddenly scrambling to study in the moments before the bell rang, and she started second guessing herself whenever she volunteered an answer to a question. It was like hearing her mom’s assumptions that something was going poorly completely psyched her out. She would never be good enough. It sucked to see.
When I was student teaching I sat in on conferences with my cooperating teacher. One girl showed up to the conferences dressed up nicer than I’ve ever seen her at school, sat up straight, and was smiling from ear to ear.
It was really awkward when the main teacher told her parents she was reading below grade level, failing math, and had not passed a spelling test this quarter. She had the confidence and presence of a valedictorian, though.
I had a conference with a parent about their child’s performance and the om kept asking me if I thought there was something wrong with her daughter (first grade).
I explained that she was capable but needed to do the homework that was sent home and could use some extra practice in a few areas. She continued to ask if I thought something was wrong with her. I continued to say no.
At the end of the conference she asked one more time, and added ‘because if you think there is, the doctor is ready to give her medication…you just need to fill out this form’.
I was a first year teacher and I have a very young face. When I go out with my sister (5 years younger), I get carded and she doesn’t. When you look like your students, you have to do whatever you can to maintain your position of authority in the class until you get well established in the school, so I try to dress in a very formal way to set myself apart from the students.
When I went into my first parent-teacher conference, I was wearing a sweater that had a kind of fastener on the sleeves, and I had accidentally twisted it before I buttoned it. Not all that noticeable, but the mom I was conferencing with saw it.
Before I could stop her, there was a rush of mothering and a “Oh, here honey, let me fix that…” She had my sleeve unbuttoned and re-buttoned correctly before I could even back up.
Her kid was behind her with his head in his hands (he was super embarrassed) and I looked like a little kid whose mom had to help her get dressed. Not my finest hour, but actually a pretty funny one looking back on it!
In my second year of teaching theatre for a middle school, I had a parent demand a conference with myself and our principal. She expressed that her son could no longer be in my theatre class because “all that stuff makes you gay.” Which, for her, would be the absolute worse thing that could happen.
It was my first slap in the face that no matter what work you put in, that at the end of the day the parents will push and pull their kids in life for better or worse. Our principal was outraged by the parents comments but held the parents decision with respect because really there’s nothing we could do. Since this experience, I’ve planted the idea that the only obstacle that will prevent you from greatness is yourself, not your friends, family, teachers, etc.
Ironically, the student joined the class because of the ratio of female to male students, that set roughly 10:1. Thus, parents if you have any concerns with your children about anything, talk to them before making assumptions. Perspective matters.
I had a parent get mad at me because I failed her student on a project. She called a meeting with me and an assistant principal. We both tried in vain to explain that the project wasn’t even due yet, that her child was right on track in terms of being prepared to turn everything in on time, and that her daughter was doing just fine.
She then tried to complain that I was failing her daughter because her daughter thought I was mean and wouldn’t come to morning tutorials because she was afraid of me. I told her it was impossible for me to fail her daughter for not coming to tutorials since they are in no way tied to grades, and furthermore, her daughter was not failing my class. (She was making a low B, which is perfectly acceptable in a more rigorous pre-Advanced Placement class).
Most irrational person I ever met. She insisted on having her daughter transferred from my class.
Not actually from me, but from a teacher friend who shares lots of stories.
Dad and son (around 15) where at a parent teacher meeting, discussing the son’s recent actions. The mother was away on a business trip and couldn’t attend. At first, the dad was asked to share his side of the story, considering his son’s behavior. He described him as a normal, disciplined, nice young boy. He didn’t mention anything related to school, which was odd.
Then, the teacher began to tell the story of recent outbreaks, violent behavior, etc. At first, the dad was pretty composed and could contain his facial emotions. A few minutes further along the meeting, he got visibly distressed. Then suddenly, with the nicest voice anyone could image, he interrupted the meeting, telling the teacher he respects her as a professional and believes every word she had said, also promises it won’t happen again. He took his son, said goodbye, left and silently closed the door.
What then followed could only be described as the most verbal, semi-loud crap storm one could imagine. But without any swear words, slur or profanity. He literally took the boy to town, with a lot of very firm sentences. Not one time were violence or threats mentioned.
Come next school day, the boy was completely turned around.