Teachers might be in charge of the classroom, but that doesn't mean that they don't have troubles with meddlesome parents. Some parents mean well, but others are just nuts! These parents definitely fall into the latter category.
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"One mom never gave her son timeouts. The kid was absolute terror and had no friends in class.
I started giving him time outs when he tried to break the rules. His mom questioned me when he started to simmer down at home. I explained that I made him sit out for a few minutes during playtime until he could explain why what he did was wrong and relaxed. I also would take his school-provided Nilla Wafers when he was really acting up. No desserts for unruly kids!
This woman straight up tried to get me fired. She screamed at my boss in front of my students, scaring them. She said I was taking away his autonomy and stifling his creativity.
Well, I didn't listen to her and continued to discipline the kid. He started behaving really well and was enjoying class. He loved to talk about what I said he was doing well today. Two weeks later, guess who came over and asked me for tips on giving timeouts?"
"This happened during my semester of student teaching. The freshman Algebra I class was fishing around for ways to earn some extra credit, so I decided to offer an optional assignment - write a short paper about a famous mathematician or scientist that had a profound impact on mathematics. Half of the paper should be biographical, the other half about his or her work. If they undertook the project, it would count as an additional test grade, so doing a really bad job could hurt them. My intention was to grade with a TON of latitude so that it would practically be nearly impossible to hurt themselves.
I got mostly great stuff back. Then there was Alyssa. She wanted to do Einstein. When I got her 'paper,' the first thing I noticed was that the second page was physically shorter than the first. Then I started reading. It was full of cross-references and references to figures that didn't exist. Yup, she printed out from a CD-ROM encyclopedia and tried to pass it off as her own. We had a talk about plagiarism and how she was going to receive a zero on the project. Her overall class grade of a B- turned to a D+.
Her mom and dad complained to the principal, claiming she didn't understand the assignment and thought a 'research paper' meant to gather research and turn it in. Also, they claimed that she thought she was required to do it. I gave them a copy of the paper that detailed the assignment, which used words like 'original' and 'optional.' Of course, the little brat denied ever having seen that paper. Mind you, she sat in the front row, nearest to my desk. She was the very first person I'd hand papers to. Conveniently, they completely ignored this fact, and it didn't really matter that she would have had to touch the papers to hand them back to the other kids in her row, nor did it matter that she attempted to conceal her plagiarism by actually cutting off part of the paper, nor did it matter that she flat out lied about the paper mods when I asked - she said the printer just put out a shorter page.
Of course, the administration caved. My last words to those parents were, 'You know what we taught Alyssa today? We just taught her that it's ok if she completely ignores the rules and plagiarizes for assignments because Mom and Dad will swoop in and save her from the consequences of her actions.'
My student teaching supervisor got a call from the principal about that last comment. He high-fived me after he heard the whole story and saw the 'paper' she turned in. I ended up with an A in student teaching."
"A student, 15, was caught stealing money from other students. He was caught going through their bags and a huge fight ensued. The thief got a busted lip and swollen eye and when he came back from suspension, all the students refused to talk to him, but that was probably because of what his dad did while he was gone.
His dad came to my class and challenged all the students to a fight. The students were scared and tried to run out, but the dad brandished a stick and hit a student in the face. I was scared for the kid, but he just got back up and grabbed the stick from the dad. Then he and the other students started wailing on the dad.
I broke up the fight and the police picked up the dad. The thieving student came in the next day, furious that his dad was in jail. He threatened to bring his uncles and cousins into school to kill us. The thieving kid was beaten up again after he refused to leave. The police were also called, as was the kid's mom, who'd apparently been living abroad. She sounded so defeated over the phone.
The kid was taken away by more reasonable relatives, and now I see on his Facebook page that he lives with his mother and seems happy."
"I'm a kindergarten teacher. During a parent-teacher conference, a father asked me what I was doing to prepare his 5-year-old son for the SATs.
I tried to come up with a serious answer and told him that we've been coloring a lot in art class and that this should help develop his dexterity for filling in the bubbles on a scantron."
"I have not encountered this parent as of yet, but two other teachers in my school have, and she is by far the craziest parent in the bunch. We will call the student, 'K.'
K's classroom teacher (he's in grade school), is a Hispanic lady. While she is Mexican-American, she speaks perfect English and has no accent whatsoever because she was born and raised in America. K's mom called the SCHOOL BOARD and told them that the reason her son was always getting in trouble was because, and I quote, 'That Mexican teacher is racist against him because he is white.' And 'the reason his grades are slipping is that there is a language barrier.' All the kids in the class are white and everyone else loves her, so make what you will of that.
But, by far the best story:
Another teacher was at the pharmacy and saw K with his mother. K greeted the teacher and said, 'Hi, Ms. Katie!' And the teacher went on to say hello and asked if they were there because he was sick.
K's mom started to scream out in this public place, 'Help! This lady is trying to take my kid!' She carried on while the teacher walked away as fast as she could because she was both embarrassed and confused."
"Keith was a 10th grader, and I was new to teaching. He was such a pain in the neck. He didn't do any work, mouthed off, and got other students distracted. I ended up calling his mom about half a dozen times, asking her to come in and meet with me to talk about the situation. She never returned my calls.
Then one day, out of the blue, she showed up to talk to me. She didn't look happy to be there, but hey, at least she came, right? I thanked her for being there and began to talk about how Keith was doing. She looked around the room while I spoke and her body language made it very clear she didn't want to be there. After a few minutes, she interrupted me, looking straight at me for the first time. 'Look,' she said, 'I gave up on that kid a long time ago. You want to try to do something with him, you go ahead. I wish you luck.' Then she got up and left.
I felt sick. This was her son. He was maybe 15, still a KID for crying out loud.
In the days that followed, I thought about Keith a lot. In class, I did my best to see him through fresh eyes. I made a point of talking to him more. And at some point, I realized that for all the headaches he caused, I actually liked having him in class. It turns out, he was a funny guy. He had a big heart. After a while, he even started doing some work. Not a lot, but some.
One day, another kid in class was being really smug and obnoxious. Without warning, Keith punched the kid in the face. He sighed and looked at me. 'I'm really sorry. Had to be done. I'll take myself down to the office.' I guess that was the last straw for the school because Keith was sent to an alternative school in the district. A good one, thankfully.
I saw Keith one more time, about a year later. He came to my class, grinning, a report card in hand. All A's. 'I decided it was time to get my crap together,' he said.
I never saw him again, but I heard he continued to do well. And I'm glad that though others gave up on him, he decided not to give up on himself."
"I spent 10 years preparing for and working towards being a teacher, and this experience as a camp counselor/group leader at a day camp was the straw that broke the camel's back in terms of me no longer being in the education program.
I had a camper who was severely autistic. As in couldn't form sentences greater than five words with any kind of legibility. She would scream incessantly, without warning on occasion, and at the slightest inconvenience. She often became violent, striking my counselors and once throwing a chair across the room. She scratched at her nonexistent 'bug bites' until her skin was raw. She would rip the elastic out of her socks all day until she couldn't reach it anymore. She refused to participate, would intentionally spill the little cups of paint on herself during art, and complained loudly and wildly when sounds were even slightly above an inside voice level.
Her parents were doctors. They refused to admit that their daughter was autistic despite being told so by three separate specialists and the social worker at the facility in which the camp resided. Her father had to quit his job to stay home with her and still denied she was special needs. He tried to have both my director and me fired because we were contacting him for advice on how to handle her tantrums and he didn't like that we were accurately referring to her as 'special needs.'"
"Many years ago, when I first started teaching, I taught third grade and had highly capable students. The parents of the students could be a bit demanding and entitled, but I learned to anticipate their 'concerns' over time. I also had an unlisted landline in case any of them decided to call me at home. I have an unusual last name. This was in the olden days of phone books and answering machines, so no cell phones just yet.
One parent was especially and unusually crazy. She had a drinking problem and was probably bipolar or manic-depressive. Her daughter was what I call a 'bootstrap kid.' She managed herself and her little brother and thrived at school despite their mom. Well, one night I got a call from the telephone operator (this was in the mid-1990s, not the 1950s) saying there was a distressed woman on the line who claimed I was her daughter's teacher and that she MUST talk to me. Even the operator sounded worried, so I gave my permission to put her through. The mom was bawling and saying she was certain she was going to die for various reasons. She was maybe 35 and claimed everyone she knew died at this age, some violently.
I was just a young teacher, I was not a counselor or even experienced in this sort of thing. I kept her on the line until she calmed down, and once I was certain she was not in any danger, we said our goodbyes.
The next morning, I told the school counselor and principal. It was pretty disturbing. For the next two years, the daughter did fine at school, although there were a few more interactions with the mom. Once, when the mom was in bed and couldn't pull it together to function, the principal and secretary went over to her house to talk her down from another fit.
I hope the girl turned out ok."
"My wife is the principal of an expensive daycare. Like, really expensive. Every parent drives a BMW or better.
A 3-year-old once ran away from the group during a field trip. The teacher, an incredibly mild woman, caught the kid and asked her if she thought what she did was good or bad. She didn't hit her, she didn't even criticize her or make her go in time out - she just asked her if she thought it was a good thing to do.
The kid's mother freaked out. Not because her child nearly went missing - she was furious that any type of discipline whatsoever was administered. My wife was on the phone with her until 2 a.m. while this woman screamed, 'She has no right to tell my child what to do! Who does she think she is?'
Fortunately, the woman became angry enough that she pulled her kid out a few days later. But that teacher is now so terrified to discipline her students that her class is out of control."
"When I was in school (in the UK), mothers of the students could volunteer as classroom helpers. Their job would be to help any kids falling behind in a lesson to catch up by giving them some one-on-one tutoring. In theory, this was a great idea, but one mom refused to help any of the students who needed it. She'd just hover around her own daughter. She'd coddle her and make sure all the learning disability students (like myself) didn't get their 'stupid' on her.
The girl never seemed to have any ideas or creativity of her own. All her stories sounded like a book a middle age woman would read, all her paintings were of flowers, and she pretty much got the best of all the classroom equipment. She was only friends with girls whose moms were also in the PTA.
When the end of primary school SATs came about, her mom couldn't be there for her, and it became painfully obvious that she couldn't really read or write much on her own. She ended up having to go to a special school for a few years to get caught up.
Interestingly, those of us with dyslexia (who weren't good enough to be around this girl) ended up getting the highest average test scores that year. I found out more recently that the girl is doing really well now, so that's at least nice to hear."
"I teach fifth grade. Evidently, a parent came to my principal recently because when we group the fourth graders into class, she wants her daughter in any class but mine. Under no circumstances is her kid to be placed with me. The reasoning behind it was that I have a large chest, which will hurt her 10-year-old daughter's self-esteem."
"I had this kid who was relatively bright, but absolutely clueless and sucked at turning in assignments. As a result, he was often failing. Well, at the beginning of the school year, his mom flipped out and decided that I must be the worst teacher in the world. She stalked my social media and LinkedIn, somehow got ahold of a bunch of other parents' emails, and started smack-talking about how I was brand new and incompetent. It was my second year. What was really strange was that they kept making really specific references to my previous job history.
The principal sat down in a meeting with the parent, and the parent tried to act like none of it had ever happened. Eventually, they just pulled their kid from the school; nothing was ever resolved.
It was after that incident that I decided to shut down all of my social media. Just not worth the trouble."
"I had a boy named Tyler in my fourth-grade class. Tyler had a dad that was taking steroids and was also into cage fighting. He came after school once because he had beef with me because I gave Tyler a C on his essay. Suffice to say, I stood by the grade I gave the boy and his dad escalated things until we got into an altercation. He knocked me out, but he was taken away after that."
"The worst was a mother who made a big scene because her daughter had not been chosen as the featured vocalist to sing 'O Holy Night' at the school's Christmas concert.
Her daughter didn't have the appropriate voice or range for the solo. More importantly, she did not want the part - and had made this crystal clear to faculty and other students.
Still, her mother insisted on it and threatened to remove her daughter from the school unless school officials met her demand - an ultimatum which resulted in the daughter leaving this private school for another."
"A long time ago, I tutored kids in their last two years of high school as well as college students. One of the kids I tutored was in her last year of high school, about six months away from final exams.
There was no reason for her not to pass.
Now, this girl was the daughter of a famous musician; her uncle was a known and celebrated musician as well. She fell into the wrong crowd with six months to go. The 'fight the man, it'll all work out' crowd. So she decided she wanted to leave high school and focus on her own music career.
I spent many weeks trying to convince her not to drop out of high school. She could've basically done autopilot for a couple of months and graduated. But she was so afraid of final exams, she decided to take the easy route.
What was so awful about her parents? They never interjected once. They never tried to convince her either way. They were so absent from her life that at no point did they factor into any decisions.
The girl never released anything beyond her own Soundcloud."
"I was a teachers assistant for freshman-level chemistry at a large, well-known university. I had a parent call me repeatedly on my personal cell phone, wanting to know why her daughter got an A- on some random, insignificant lab assignment. I told her that university policy did not allow for discussion of grades with anyone but the student, so she called the head of the department to complain that I was discriminating against her and her daughter. She also claimed that I was blackmailing her daughter into not speaking to her. I felt bad for the daughter, she was a very smart, polite, friendly person. Nothing happened past the head of the department laughing at the mom and telling her that the department would assist me in pressing harassment charges if she kept calling me."
"My mom had a student who constantly messed with her watch, making it beep like crazy. I would know, I was in the class. So my mom asked her to stop or not wear the watch. The student's mom came in after school, practically yelling that it was a gift from her grandmother who had died. My mom said she was sorry but it was a distraction. The girl's mother replied, 'No, she told me it wasn't beeping! You just think it's ugly and don't want her to wear it!'