Handling Parent Complaints

Mom's advice, when you hear it you may or may not take it. If you are a mother, you may see more of the "not taking it" occurring in your house. I am the mother of teen so I see more of the not taking it.

It made my heart sing when my daughter began to look at education as a career. When she was younger, she swore she would never teach because "teachers work too hard". I couldn't imagine teaching if you didn't feel a real calling to the profession, could you?

Now that she has shown an interest in my passion, I am trying to impart as much teacher wisdom as I possibly can before she goes to college. You know, all those life lessons in the trenches that you didn't learn in undergrad. This is one of the reasons why I began the "Need Books?" book giveaways this year. I wanted to show her how to level books.

Now I am going to begin a new series of blog post called "Life Lessons from the Trenches". I want to apologize ahead of time in case this sounds too Mom-ish. These are tips I wish someone would have told me before I began teaching. Feel free to share your life lessons in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Life Lesson in the Trenches - Lesson #1

You will get parent complaint. Good teachers get complaints, vanilla teachers get complaints, ineffective teachers get complaints . . . are you seeing a pattern? You can be the Einstein of teachers but, still a parent will be less than pleased with you. Why?

You need to get to the root of the problem.

Comparison: The neighbor raved about all of the amazing stuff their child's teacher was doing.   Now one of your parents is upset with you because you aren't doing the same stuff as the "amazing teacher".  If this happens to you:
  • Invite the upset parent to volunteer in your class so he or she can see all of the amazing stuff going on in your room. 
  • Communicate the great stuff happening in your room.  Don't be shy!  Add pictures to your website or newsletter.  A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Ask the "amazing teacher" if he or she would be willing to share some ideas or activities with you.
Boomerang: Mom and Dad had a fight about the sad note you sent home. Your note causes dissension. Now the parent is unhappy with you.  It is the boomerang effect.

When you sense this is the issue, invite the parents to come in for a conference so everyone can share their point of view. It is easier for everyone to get on the same page when you have spoken face-to-face. The student needs a united front at home and school.

Ambassadors: The outspoken member of the community has shared his or her concern about how you are performing your job. It is important to listen to all complaint. Don't dismiss a complaints by Mrs. Frequently because she freely shares her opinions. There might be several other parents who feel the same way as Mrs. Frequently. These parents know that Mrs. F. loves to give free advice. They have given their tacit agreement which made her your class ambassador.

It is easy to take complaints personal and let them cloud your view of your job.  Remember, only a small percentage of parents may have a concern.  These parents may have a concern on that day about that particular topic.  The other 179 days of the school, these same parents may in fact think you are doing a great job!

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1 comment

Unknown said...

I have been teaching for 24 years. These are great ideas!