Written by: Marielle Potvin
Teachers are all in agreement, there’s always one per class. At least one parent belongs to one of the following categories and is driven by the best intentions.
Today’s reality is that in addition to dealing with their students, teachers must now also consider the character of their parents and make the best of the situation for the benefit of their class (and mental health).
Here is an overview of the different types of parents and a few helpful tips, which are meant to be humorous and philosophical!
These parents want their child to sit in the front row and to receive special attention from the teacher, to the extent that they sometimes forget the class includes other students.
Most often, these parents only have one child and are very demanding of the teacher, asking for more than teachers can realistically give.
Teachers will often listen and take their demands lightly. Pray that not too many students in the same class have this type of parent so the teacher doesn’t crumble under the pressure of having to perform miracles.
If you belong to this category, I suggest you spend time in a classroom or supervising a group of children. For example, read books to children during story time at your local library, host cooking workshops or small science experiments, organize arts and crafts during the Holidays. You can also volunteer to help supervise the kids during school outings. This will help you get a better perspective of classroom reality.
These parents are known for their eagerness to know everything about their children’s school life. Like helicopters overflying an area of interest, they will even call other parents to compare information received from the school to learn about classroom life in its every detail. Conflicts between children with the outcome and sanctions, the privileges granted, changes to the calendar, you name it... they know it! Best-case scenario, they keep this information to themselves. Worst-case scenario, they grill teachers with full-page messages via the school agenda to get explanations for the teacher’s every move.
Teachers must show patience and be professional when dealing with this kind of parent. But this parent is often the one the teacher thinks of when he or she needs to blow off a little steam in the faculty lounge... which usually isn’t music to the ears ;)
Are you part of this category? Dial it down a notch! There are so many other ways you can get involved. For example: keep a journal or class blog, participate in fundraising events for cultural or sports activities, get involved in the school's parent committee, etc. I recommend you limit the number of calls you make to your child’s teachers; rather, write your messages (brief ones) in your child’s agenda when you really need specific information. You can get involved in the classroom life, but get the teacher’s approval first!
These parents sweep all obstacles or impediments from their children’s path. They will do their children’s homework, make excuses for their misdeeds, justify their mistakes or deny any problems or difficulties they may have. The worst is when they refuse their child be submitted to a punishment given by the teacher, claiming their child was not at fault; that the situation was a case of mistaken identity or no witness was present, that their child would NEVER behave in such a way, etc.
Sound familiar? I encourage you, as a parent, to have faith in your child’s teacher and to show your confidence openly in front of him. In the event of a difference of opinion, it’s always possible to discuss the issue privately. Above all, avoid calling the principal or the school board first. Teachers will not appreciate you going over their head instead coming to them first to talk about a problem, as you can surely understand. Teachers have the duty to inform you of your child’s punishment or the consequences of his actions, not to continually justify their decisions regarding classroom discipline.
These parents show an interest in their child’s academic progress without meddling in the teacher’s running of the classroom. They will speak of the teacher with respect in front of their child and consider the reality of dealing with a group of some twenty students. They aim to collaborate with the teacher and occasionally offer their help. These parents encourage their children but do not interfere with the learning experience that comes from disciplinary measures. They take part in meetings with the teacher and if an issue arises, they discuss the matter with the teacher calmly and without hostility. This type of parent, who fortunately represents the majority, does his share and positively contributes to his child's education.
Does the shoe fit? Then keep up the good work! You are among those who allow teachers to exercise their profession with enjoyment and commitment. Thanks to your positive attitude and good faith, you support teachers in their duties and contribute to a future generation of responsible citizens. On behalf of all teachers, thank you!
Marielle Potvin, Remedial Teacher