Being a teacher isn't always a wonderful experience. The pay is often very modest, and they have to deal with a whole variety of annoying kids. They try their best though to educate and hopefully have some kind of positive impact. Unfortunately, the parents of some students seem to think the teacher's 'best' is just not good enough.
The teachers in the following stories had to face off against some highly delusional parents who, rather than trying to help their own children, were really just looking for a target to yell at.
Points have been edited for clarity.
"I was doing a whole group lesson and asked the class a question. A student decided that the best answer might be, 'Your mom!' He shouted it out and I wrote it up and sent him to the behavior dean. He came back to class with the dean who told me that his mother is very upset and wants me to call her. The end of the day comes and I give her a ring. She is indeed angry. I explain to her why I sent him out of the room because she seems a bit confused about it. Her immediate response is, 'I don't understand why that is a big deal, did you think he was talking about your mother?'
This surprised me, so I said, 'Well, no. He doesn't know my mother so I don't think he is talking about her. However, he should not be shouting out joke answers, and especially not joke answers about a person's mother, and especially not joke answers about the teacher's mother.'
'So if he shouted out pickles would he have been sent out?' She replies.
I pause, stunned by her response. 'There is a difference between invoking a vegetable and invoking a person's mother,' I say. 'I sent him out of the classroom and I stand by my decision.'
At that point, the conversation ended. Fast forward 4 months and we are at parent-teacher conferences. The first thing she brings up is this incident. 'I think that your experiences as a white man caused you to treat my son differently.'
DID SHE JUST CALL ME A RACIST?
I wait for a little while, knowing that my responses at this point could have a serious impact on my employment status. 'Are you saying that I treated your son differently because he was black?' I ask. Without missing a beat she says yes. I take a breath. 'I respectfully disagree, and it's very easy to prove that's not the case. About a half hour before your son was sent out of the room for shouting out, 'your mom,' another student had done the same thing. I wrote it up, he went to the office, and he received a phone call home. Your son saw the consequences of doing this and chose to shout it out anyway. That student that I sent out first was a white student.'
She looked at me dumbfounded. 'I will be honest with you. I feel that both your son and I have moved past this incident, but I feel that you have not. I want to know, sincerely, what I could do to help repair this relationship.' She remained silent, we finished the conference, and she left.
It seems like a small thing, but being accused of racism like that is not a fun experience, especially as a first-year teacher. I was shaking. I emailed my principal and union rep with every detail I could remember from the conversation. Thankfully, she seemed stumped by my reply. Apparently, she just goes around looking for fights like this."
"A parent of a former student of mine who had autism (I'm a Special Education teacher specializing in autism, and all of my students are autistic) was also on the spectrum herself. She was a single parent. She was so terrified of doctors she couldn't bring herself to take her son to one. Granted, her son fought pretty hard at the doctor when he went, so it was unpleasant.
The summer before he became my student, he got a really bad sinus infection. Other than giving him some decongestant when she could get it in him, he was untreated for the whole summer and eventually closed his eyes because of the pressure.
When he finally (in October) started opening his eyes again, he couldn't see. It was a terrible year of trying to convince mom to take him to doctors, which she eventually did, only to find out he had lost most of his vision due to the sinus infection. Still makes me emotional to this day. The only reason that happened is that he has autism and he needed an advocate to be his voice.
I taught a kid who was in and out of her home with the authorities. She also has autism. Mom had no idea what she was doing. She lived in a very low-income area and had a lot of 'friends' over. This student was somewhat verbal and would tell us about the friends from time to time. We had several run-ins with mom because of reports to the authorities over the years but they couldn't get her out of the house until one day she told us about a 'friend' touching her. I don't think I've been so angry about anything ever. I had several talks with the mom about protecting her from abusers.
The most behaviourally explosive kid I've ever dealt with was screaming in our classroom for 3-4 hours a day. She was in no way able to handle group situations and needed to be in 1:1 therapy, but that is hard to come by. So after 2 years of begging, the mom finally put her on anxiety medication to help take the edge off. It was glorious. Then mom started inventing all sorts of side effects she was witnessing, and without telling anyone or talking to a doctor ripped her off her meds, forcing her child to suffer from withdrawal and sending her back into crisis. This happened twice while I taught that kid.
I have a therapist now. Parents like this start to wear on you after awhile. My relationships with parents have suffered as a result as I'm far more reluctant to communicate with any of them unless I have to. It's getting better again this year and I'm working on it, but my God! the stuff I have seen! My therapist calls it compassion fatigue."
"This isn't the scariest or the most serious example, but this one dad made me pretty furious one time. He came to drop off his two daughters and then asks me to speak to one of my fellow instructors who we shall call Sarah. We have a pretty standard policy of not offering up staff to irate parents until that staff member is given a heads up and agrees to speak with them.
I gave him the standard, 'Sarah isn't here right now but can I help you with something?' The dad proceeds to explain how his 6-year-old was forced to go outside during a thunderstorm the day before to look for a ring Ms. Sarah had lost. He said all the other girls in his daughters class were forced to spend a long time outside while it was raining looking for the teacher's ring, and his daughter had come home covered in mud. I thought this was strange and didn't seem like something Sarah would do. If anything, I imagine she would have just looked for her ring herself. I told him we would discuss it together as a faculty and take the appropriate action.
When I talked to Sarah about the incident, she was incredulous. It hadn't been raining very heavily the day before and Sarah and another staff member had had all the little kids after lunchtime, normally when they would go outside and play. Sarah found a plastic pool toy shaped like a ring, went outside to our playground and hid it. Then told the girls that they could choose between staying inside and playing board games, or joining her outside on a quest to find the 'magical ring' that had been tragically lost. Most kids opted for the epic quest and while it had been kind of muddy, the kids had a fantastic time. They still bring it up every once in a while.
I guess this particular girl either didn't really get what was going on, or she got in trouble for being muddy and threw Ms. Sarah under the bus. My guess is the latter."
"I had this student who was diagnosed with a couple of issues, but which in no way affected his academic abilities. He was also gifted and talented and attended extra courses because of this.
This kid had almost every adult he had ever met wrapped around his finger. I vowed not to be one of them. Basically, he was a jerk. He would pull all kinds of crap, like not doing his homework, playing games on his school-issued iPad during class, not responding and ignoring teachers and other adults when spoken to, lying, manipulation of kids and adults. Basically a piece of work. His parents ALWAYS took his side. They NEVER thought it was possible that their child could have any fault. So, whenever he was written up (sent to the office) they would email or call that evening to complain. By the time he got to my classroom, this had been going on for years. The administration had all but given up because the parents were THAT exhausting.
I was writing this kid up nearly once a week all year. If it were any other kid, he would have probably been suspended multiple times and possibly removed from the school, but because the parents were such huge pains, the school couldn't deal anymore, so he got away with murder essentially. It was extremely exhausting and frustrating, but I never stopped. I refused to back down on this kid or his parents, even after the principals had all but told me nothing was going to happen. This kid is going nowhere fast and it angers me to no end to know that it is almost entirely his parents' fault in this case."
"This 14-year-old girl -- I will call her Rosie -- is violent towards students and staff. This is not simply kicking and hitting others (we're in a rough area of town), this is throwing tables, cutting off a girl's hair, smashing a window, kicking in a door.
You name the offense, and she has most likely done it. Her brother was expelled for similar behavior, so her mom was not happy with the school. One incident occurred last month where this girl videotaped herself beating up an 11-year-old 'as a joke'. There was no reason given she apparently thought the girl found it funny. The girl had to be taken to the hospital to check that the knock on the head was not serious. So Rosie is temporarily excluded. Her mom comes in to discuss the event and is arguing Rosie's case, explaining that the girls were joking. We have CCTV and video and Rosie's mom insists we all just missed the joke.
Anyway, a strongly worded, handwritten but photocopied letter arrives on my desk (and three other teachers'). May I add that I was simply one of Rosie's teachers -- I was not at the incident or the meeting and did not have any control in school policy, but the letter threatens to 'sue us.' But not for unfair suspension. Rather, Rosie's mom has found through her extensive research that we have 'too strict bullying rules and policy that is discrimination,' and that Rosie was a 'victim of rigid policy on bullying.' As far as complaints go, I don't think anything can now shock me."
"One of my friends who works at a university in the geology department was contacted by a very angry parent that their son was being flunked or something. They had made some kind of challenge of, 'You have so many students in your class that you don't even know who any of them are.' So he went to go search for the student and found there was absolutely no record of the student having taken any of his classes. He started to worry because it was approaching the end of the year, and he could find absolutely no record of the student whatsoever. But the student had an ID and everything, so he did exist at the University.
Later, it was found that the parent was yelling at the wrong department. The student was flunking geography, and the parent did not know the difference between the two.
But most professors at the University level have a wonderful protection where unless the student has actually given permission, the professors are not allowed to speak to the parents at all on the student's behalf. And the majority of those children who have helicopter parents, do not give any permission whatsoever for their parents to see how they are doing. I am sure they tell their parents, 'I have been telling them you're allowed to have access to records, I don't know what is going wrong.'"
"I had a fun class and there was one joker kid who was asking questions about stuff that was coming up in the next chapter. I answered his question telling him to keep it in mind for the next chapter.
A week or two later we get to that chapter. He mentions that he knows it so I think it would be funny if he taught it using my slides while I sat in his chair and pretended to be a student. The kids thought it was great. He did a pretty good job too. When he made a mistake I'd pretend to ask a question with the correction built in. Everyone had a great time and seemed to learn a lot.
Next week the kid's parents come in and accuse me of picking on him and trying to embarrass him. At no point did they think to ask him if he had been embarrassed. They had tried to make an appointment with my principal to throw me under the bus without even talking to me. Luckily he was awesome and just told them to go talk to me.
Just goes to show you don't know what your students are telling their parents and even if it's the truth, how parents are interpreting it.
I feel bad for the kid cause he and I got along so great before that incident but I wouldn't think of kidding around with him after that."
"I used to teach in a developing country two years ago, and I had a child in my class who had autism. He was extremely brilliant and kind but was always alone.
I decided one day to give his parents a call and tell them what a wonderful student he was and wanted to meet with the parents to work on improving his social skills. The mother was shocked and told me that this was the first time any teacher would ever call for this purpose, as usually, teachers called during his outbursts to complain. I found out later on by the mother that whenever this student was misbehaving or not acting 'normal' his father would beat him. I then scheduled and an emergency meeting with both parents and the principal to confront the father.
Long story short, the father thought this method was the best method to get his son to act appropriately, but after thoroughly talking to him about how he is making his child worse he started to worry. It took many meetings and hard work but by the end of the year, the father improved tremendously. My student and his mother still keep in contact with me. When I travel back, I usually go to the school to see him and he is the first one of my students to run and give me a hug."
"I teach at a university, so my interaction with parents is very slight, but on a couple occasions I've had angry parents calling my office wanting to talk about why their kid isn't doing well in my class. I'm required to tell them that I'm legally not allowed to confirm or deny any student's enrollment in my class or discuss any student's progress in my class with anyone but the student, which ruffles a lot of parental feathers.
On one occasion, I'd said my spiel to parents and gotten the usual, 'I pay their tuition, it's my money so it's my right etc,' in return.
I had replied with, 'If you'd like to set up a proxy, you'll need to go to the registrar for a form which your son can fill out and sign, and that will allow me to talk to you.'
The parent totally lost their temper at that and yelled at me, 'HE WON'T FREAKING SIGN IT!' Followed by a stream of verbal abuse and obscenities, mostly speculating on my parentage and educational attainment.
Gosh. I just have no clue why your kid doesn't want to talk to you about his grades."
"I once had a girl in my elective class who was struggling with her mathematics. She wasn't going to college for anything math related and wasn't performing very well (worst in the class). I first told her that she may want to consider taking a different class during her junior year while she still could. That way, she could return to this class as a senior if she still felt inclined to do so. As the brain matures, ability to understand mathematics increases.
Her parents went nuts, basically taking it like I was saying her daughter was too stupid to take the class. I had emails saying how they were going to get me fired. They called and emailed the principal to try to make it happen. I had a 99% approval rating from all students, the highest in the school. They were the 1%.
These were helicopter parents. Their kids got away with EVERYTHING. The daughter didn't take advantage of it much, she was a sweetheart, but their son sure did. He knew he could do whatever he wanted, and if the school tried to stop him, he'd just cry foul and his parents would support."
"I taught first grade at a small private school. My first year I had the ultimate helicopter parent. He looked at everything and got on his child's case about everything from his test scores to the quality of his homework. He always had questions about the curriculum, my teaching methods, etc. etc. The child was a bit of a precocious boy, very smart but already rebelling against being under his dad's thumb all the time. The dad would want to come in and observe the student's behavior. Dad would volunteer in the classroom but would spend most of his time critiquing his son. He'd then want to have long conferences about his son's behavior.
I told him I thought his son acted out more when he was there, and that I didn't think he should be in the classroom anymore. The dad's proposed solution was to install a camera in the classroom so he could observe him without actually being there. Obviously, that didn't happen. I learned a lot about setting boundaries that year."
"I had a parent who said, 'I have three kids and my kids have never lied in their lives.' My administrator and I ended the conference after this statement because we realized the parent was delusional and we were wasting our time. This parent also signed each email Dr. (their name), but she never used punctuation and had a tendency to misspell words left and right. Her email signature indicated she had a doctorate in education.
I had actually taught all three of her kids at one time or another. All three kids were lazy and never participated in class or completed assignments. This parent would email every day about something and it eventually got to the point I stopped replying to the emails or just forwarded the emails to the principal saying I'm not responding to this because I have already explained it all multiple times. I wasn't the only teacher who received this treatment. Every teacher who had one of her kids had to deal with this behavior."
"I told a student, 'You are failing my class and this is middle of the semester, we need to figure something out or you're not going to pass my class.' The student just shrugged his shoulders, said okay, then left.
A week later I get called in by the Dean. The student's mother called and complained that her son was failing because I was terrible at my job. No specifics, just ranting. I let the Dean know the student hadn't turned in any of his homework, he didn't participate in class, he didn't attend any of my review sessions and when I tried to reach out to him he was very apathetic. He stayed in the class, made no improvement, put in no effort. However, the Dean got a call after every test, and I had to hear about it all over again.
It was college."
"I once had a student hit me. I reported the student and they were suspended. The attacker's mother was adamant that I had made the whole thing up, even though it was witnessed and there was photographic documentation of the mark it left.
The next year, that student's sibling was in my class. Mom had them removed after she found out because, according to her, 'This teacher has a clear vendetta against my children.' The sibling was really upset and tried to say that I was always nice and helpful, but their mom wouldn't listen. She thought I was just lulling the sibling into a false sense of security before striking.
I've been screamed at by parents, but for some reason, this experience was far, far worse for me."
"I was a teacher for a bit but quickly came to regret it. I was out once with my girlfriend at the time when a parent came up to me and told me I shouldn't be out because it was setting a bad example for the students. I didn't understand. It was the summer, I was down the shore away from the town I worked in, my girlfriend was wearing a tank-top and I had a t-shirt on. No student would want to see their teacher during the off-time.
The parent kept pressing though, eventually demanding that I be removed because I was a bad influence. She was raving for a while. I eventually got an email from my boss saying he needed to talk to me. Apparently, I was going to bars and picking up 'young-looking women.' So I was being investigated. I just sighed and went on, whatever. My girlfriend was older than me actually. Nothing came up with the investigation and the mother went on a huge rant when she saw me still at the school the following year.
This was a while ago, but I've since lost the passion to teach and any kind of faith in the education system."