Teachers Share Their Most Outrageous Stories About Parent-Teacher Conferences
Do mommy and daddy really know best? With students spending the same amount of their active time, if not more, at school at home, teachers tend to have a better vantage point to assess a student’s academic performance. Of course, not all parents agree with that and that’s why parent-teacher conferences can be really awkward affairs. Here are some of the most memorable parent-teacher conference stories we found online.
1. Leave it to The Nanny
I had a busy, well-known doctor bring in the nanny to the parent-teacher conference. Whenever I spoke directly to the mother she would say to the nanny, “Are you getting all this because you are the one that needs to be paying attention. By the time I get home, I don’t want to have to deal with any of this.”
2. Stringing a Web of Lies
I had a meeting about a kid who wouldn’t turn anything in ever. But of course, according to parent, it was definitely not the kid’s fault. It was apparently about the teachers screwing the kid over. The best excuse was that someone broke into his locker and stole specific assignments. The conversation devolved quickly.
The parent said, “We don’t appreciate you teachers, the school, or how you didn’t take the locker break-in seriously.” I replied, “We looked into the situation. Camera footage confirms no break-in ever occurred on the date your student told us it happened.” Then the parent says, “So you’re telling me my child LIED about this?!?”
I said yes. The parent goes, “Well how can you be so sure?? People break into cars all the time!” I said, “Sure, but usually there’s also evidence like broken glass or other damage to the car, possible tools used in the break-in, valuables missing. You get the idea.” Eventually, we moved on from that topic and by the end of the meeting accomplished exactly nothing.
3. Sometimes A Proper Scolding is Necessary
I’ve had a couple of interesting interactions with parents during my brief time as a teacher, but for some reason, one sticks out in my head. We hadn’t even scheduled a parent-teacher conference, but mom was late to pick up her girl and I decided to stay with her homeroom teacher to keep an eye on her while we waited.
Now, this girl was in my reading class, and she was quickly developing a reputation of not reading. She’d keep waiting for me to turn my attention to another kid and then she’d close her book and just do whatever she wanted. It didn’t seem any kind of teacher punishment would stop her. So when mom swept in, looking slightly frazzled, I took the opportunity to mention this problem to her.
This woman turned to her child and launched into a fierce diatribe in a language I’d never heard before (but really loved the sound of), and her child immediately started screaming and crying like the fear of God had been put in her. Mom turned to me then and said with narrowed eyes, “If you ever catch her doing it again, text me and tell her Mama’s not letting her play with the tablet that night.” Needless to say, the kid shaped up in class.
4. I Guess, It’s a Compliment
I was greeted by his parents saying, “It’s nice to meet you, you are not a C-word like his other teachers,” in a really posh and well-spoken accent.
5. This Escalated Quickly
I had a parent throw a chair at me once. She believed that her son shouldn’t have to do homework. She believed him to be a genius. He wasn’t.
6. When a Troubled Home-Life Enters School
I had a student who was a bit of a troublemaker. He liked to mess around a lot and it got to the point it was interfering with lessons. We have a meeting with his parents and all his teachers (normal at my school) just to see what was up and if there were any strategies the parents were using at home that could help us out.
The entire time the dad just keeps asking us to confirm that there’s something “wrong” with his child. No sir, he’s just acting like a regular 12-year-old boy. Turns out the parents were in a messy divorce after dad was having an affair with a much younger lady, which perhaps explained all the acting out and positive attention seeking from the kid. We signed him up for a bunch of sports and clubs to keep him at school longer and make some productive friends.
7. “Only 89!”
It was my last interview of the day and with the parents of my top student. I thought it would be a breeze. They ended up ranting about why my daughter only had 89% and saying I needed to step my game up as a teacher. She actually ended up with 82%, so I can only imagine the look on her parents’ faces.
8. No Feet, No Sense
I had one mom come in not wearing shoes. She had the grossest toenails and her feet stunk up the room for the 15 minutes we sat there. Her husband and I spent the entire meeting trying to tell her why it is important to teach her daughter how to count money. I really don’t think we got through to her because she said she’s fine with taking 20 minutes in a checkout to figure out if she has enough money, so why would anyone want to learn to do it faster?
9. Just Spend More Time Studying With Your Son
I teach ninth grade history, and I had a mom set up a meeting with me after her son failed a test. She brought in a copy of his test, but it had all new answers on it. She had painstakingly whited-out all of his answers, then took the test herself. The whole process had taken her hours. She then graded it herself by researching every question on Wikipedia, and had given herself a C.
She said that if she couldn’t ace the test herself, it was too hard for her son and I had to make it easier next time. She put in all that effort not to help her son master the material or the research/study skills, but to prove that my test was the problem. She does not have a history background, and I have no idea why she thought that her knowledge of Mesopotamia should be the educational standard.
10. Now, That’s Parenting!
I’ve been an elementary teacher for 14 years. A few years back during a regular parent-teacher conference, a student’s father listened intently to everything I had to say about his child. Then, he kindly and respectfully asked how his son was developing as a person. “Was he kind to others?” “How could his son grow as a leader?” “Was he empathetic and attentive to others’ needs?” “Was he respectful to all adults?” At the time, it just blew me away.
11. Let Your Kids Be Kids
I had a parent tell me she’s worried her son isn’t confident enough for corporate America. He had just turned five years old!
12. A Good Parent and A Good Child
I had a seventh-grade student, who I was warned about by other teachers when the year started. “Doesn’t take anything seriously…always goofing around”, “Doesn’t care,” etc. It turns out he was actually a ray of sunshine. He was such a happy person, kind to everyone, and full of unassuming charisma. Honestly, I would love to be as happy as him.
He made the whole class fun for everyone once I embraced the best way to keep him involved in the material. I was really curious about meeting his mother because he didn’t make good grades in most subjects, and she didn’t seem to care. She turned out to be a friendly, charismatic and easy-going person who obviously had raised her kids to enjoy being alive and not worry too much about school (before high school/college, at least).
A bit of a hippy, but very alert (not spaced out or flakey). I realized I was kind of jealous of how I imagined their home life to be and decided that when I had kids I would do my best to raise them like that kid and his mom.
13. Not Your Typical Parent-Teacher Conference
In 2015, my husband was shot and killed during (what we presume to be) a carjacking. This happened toward the beginning of the year. I called the school to tell them two of my three kids wouldn’t be at school for a week in order to take time off to grieve (my youngest was a baby). They were very supportive, they came to the funeral, brought food by my house, and came to visit the kids.
When the kids went back to school they came back with tons of handmade sympathy cards that the teachers had their students make. They also provided therapy via the psychologist at the school. Anyway, the months are passing by and we’re getting back to a normal routine when in December I get a call saying they need to meet with me.
The kids are getting good grades, so I’m wondering if there is some kind of behavioral issues going on. When I got there though, they provided us with Christmas gifts that were collected from the teachers and students. I wasn’t in a bad situation financially, but still, the gesture meant a lot. As a parent, that was my most memorable parent-teacher meeting.
14. Terrible Plan, Mom!
There was a mom who insisted that I was being biased against her kid. She brought up a recent essay as an example and complained about the grade her kid received on it. I had given the essay a C- and the mom was saying that it was obviously an A essay. I assured her that I was not biased and pointed out numerous issues with the essay that prevented it from scoring higher.
It had content-related issues as well as numerous basic grammatical errors. The mom then revealed that she had written the essay, not her kid. She said, “So it looks like you’ve got some explaining to do!” and then sat back with a smug grin on her face. Yeah, it’s me who’s got the explaining to do…
15. Tough Love Sometimes Works
When I was teaching, I had many students who lived with someone other than a parent. I had this sweet grandmother come in one day and talk to me about her grandson. He was a typical teenage boy but due to his parents’ situation, he had spun downward hard. The world was out to get him so he didn’t see a point in trying anymore.
After listening to her about his situation, I found a better way of making him work harder. He told me one day that no one expected him to graduate high school so he didn’t see the point. Knowing how he was I responded with something to the effect of “That makes sense. Prove them wrong.” The sheer simplicity of that message shook him.
He did, in fact, graduate high school three years later and I was proud to be there to cheer him across the stage.
16. Investing in Your Child’s Studies
I had a parent schedule a conference for one of the brightest, humblest kids I had ever taught. She requested two slots from the guidance department, meaning I would be spending an hour with this woman’s concerns. I spent the whole day dragging, fearing that this was going to end with me being lambasted for being a terrible history teacher or for not grading an assignment fairly.
When she arrived, she introduced herself and sat down at the table across from me. She wanted to discuss the text I had assigned the AP kids over the summer. The author is pretty famous for his controversial takes on history (Howard Zinn), so my butt clenched in anticipation at her first round of questions. It turns out, she merely thought the book to be delightful and wanted to thank me for giving her son something so interesting to talk about over dinner all summer.
She actually wanted my thoughts on the historiography of the book and we spent the whole time looking at primary sources and learning and discussing together. We met a couple more times throughout the year just to kind of review history with her and her kids and husband. It was so refreshing to have a group of people so invested in what I was teaching to their child.
17. Kids Saying the F-Word is Never Not Funny
I teach preschool and a little girl in my class had started dropping F-bombs, just a few times, which isn’t uncommon as kids repeat what they hear at home and if they get a reaction from adults will say it more. She would say it when she was frustrated with a toy or puzzle, never directed at other people. I knew the family well and had no red flags about verbal abuse or anything happening at home.
I spoke with the parents about their daughter’s new habit and they were mortified that she had been cursing at school and agreed to talk with her about what words were not ok for her to repeat, and that they would try to use less colorful language at home. Fast forward to end-of-the-year conferences (yes, preschool conferences) and I meet with this family again.
Throughout the time of the meeting, dad probably said the F-word about 6 times, very casually and not rudely towards me or anything, more like “Sorry I’m late there was a lot of *F-word* traffic” and it became very clear why their daughter picked up the habit so quickly! It’s been about a year and the little girl isn’t using the word anymore, and will clearly state, “The F-word is just for grownups!”
18. When Teacher Intervention Becomes Necessary
I taught an elective course in a large rural high school that charged a nominal fee for supplies. “Mr B,” a parent, did not want to pay the fee and set up an after school meeting to discuss it with me. I had just been assigned an intern and thought it would be good for her to observe a parent-teacher conference. Mr. B walked into my classroom, and without any introduction, asked loudly, “You know what the problem with the world is today?”
I said, “No sir.” He replied, “WOMEN want to live beyond their means, have gone into the workplace and become *slur for a sex worker.*” I replied, “Okay. Meeting over. Good bye, Mr. B.” Later, his child confided in me that he had been beaten by his father and showed me the bruises. As required by law, I reported the incident to Child Services, who revealed me as the source.
The meeting between us in the principal’s office went like this. Mr. B said, “That boy ain’t perfect, either. He hit his stepmother once.” I said, “Where do you suppose he learned that behavior, Mr. B?” The principal then had to throw him out when he rose to strike me. On departing, addressing me, Mr. B stated, “I’ve heard all about you!”
I’m thinking, “Uh oh, this could be anything…” Mr. B said, “You’re a strong woman and always get what you want!” Okay…The principal later remarked, “That’s probably the best parent compliment you’ll ever get.” The son fled the state to live with his mother. He wrote me a thank you note years later. Mr. B’s ex-wife went on to publish a book on spousal abuse.
19. When a Parent-Teacher Conference Goes Bananas
I once had a mother brought her pet monkey. I live in Wales. People don’t have pet monkeys here! I thought the kid was winding me up saying they had one but sure enough, during parents evening, along comes mum with a capuchin in a blue jumper lying along her arm. Afterward, I took a break and went for a coffee and saw the middle-aged, very sensible principal running around going, “Oh my god, where is the monkey, I want to see it!”
20. Disheartening Admission From Mom
I once had a student who had been really obnoxious getting into arguments, cheating, etc. Serious stuff, but not super serious stuff. I had several meetings with the mom and in one of them she said she couldn’t love him anymore. The kid may have been a jerk at times, but I felt terrible.
21. Even the Lawyer’s Not Impressed
My first year as a teacher, I was teaching first grade. The mom brought her lawyer with her because I was “denying her son water.” I asked him to put his water bottle at the back sink so he wouldn’t spill it all over his textbooks. The lawyer sat behind her and rolled his eyes the whole time. This was the same mom that told me, “Nowhere in the student handbook does it say a parent can’t do the child’s homework for them.” He would turn it in every week in cursive and ink. It was a great first year of teaching.
22. Cartel Boss-Teacher Conference
My cousin taught in Honduras for a year. There was a local cartel boss whose kid she was teaching. She was unaware of this fact. The boss came to her school one day to talk to her about the fact that his kid was failing. Again, unaware of the fact that this man was in a cartel, she calmly explained how his kid had behavioral issues and never did his assignments.
The cartel boss just laughed, agreed that his kid was a handful, and told her that he would make sure his kid was better. The kid never missed an assignment again. She found out later who the parent was. She said she would have approached the conversation a little differently if she had known.
23. Sure Beats an Apple
So I’ve only been a teacher for one year, but I’ll share a positive conference. My students know I’m OBSESSED with hedgehogs. I have them everywhere and am always using them in my lessons. We have conferences from 4-7 on two nights in October. On the last night of conferences, one of my favorite students comes in with her mom and had this fuzzy bag but I just ignored it because I’m ready to get out of there.
It was my last one for the night and I was ready! I go over all of the data from her state testing and formal assessments. It was all good. And then the MOM PULLED A HEDGEHOG OUT OF THE FUZZY BAG AND I SHRIEKED LIKE A CHILD! I got to hold him and it was the best thing ever. I spent a good 30 minutes just enjoying the little guy!
I was so giddy. The mom informed me that her child talks about me all the time and wanted to do something cool for me! Probably the most memorable conference I’ll ever have that’s positive!
24. Memorable for All the Long Reasons
It was my first year teaching at an elementary school. Dad showed up with his son. This boy was a little shy in class and he was very bright and responsible. He had started the year below grade-level and had worked hard to get on track. The dad smelled strongly of alcohol, weaving and slurring his words. I called the office to have someone come down.
We escorted them to the office and had him wait. He ended up throwing up into the trashcan. I remember the look of embarrassment, anger, and sadness on the son’s face. I had other conferences scheduled so I couldn’t stay long but the police had to be called by the administration. The next day the son came in and said he was sorry.
I told him I was proud of him and that I was sorry his dad was sick and that I hoped he felt better soon. That seemed to cheer him up a little. I sent home the progress report and great examples of his class work. I did try to reschedule but it never happened. The worst of it was around the holidays this student would ask if he could come home with me, or he’d mention that he wished I was his mom. I told him that his family would miss him too much and he said “No they won’t.” It broke my heart. He moved schools the following year.
25. Parental Flexing
I teach theater and I once had a mom tell me about how lucky I am to have taught her child and then proceeded to hand me a signed headshot of her daughter and said “That will be worth a lot someday.”
26. Sometimes the Apple Does Fall Far From the Tree
I had a great student scheduled for a conference after two really tough ones, so I was looking for a breath of fresh air and assumed his parents were as awesome as their child. I was wrong. They had decided to get a divorce right before conferences. They spent the entire conference arguing over who would have to take their child. More than once in my career, I wanted to adopt a child, and this tops the list. I saw him a few years later and he was the same confident, thoughtful, intelligent kid.
27. Hopefully the Kid Started Going to Class, Yeesh!
Not a teacher, but I remember as a kid I went to a parent-teacher conference with my dad for my older brother. He went to a pretty bad high school in a rough area. So for one of the classes, the mother ahead of us goes with her son. Her son was this big, scary looking, gangster kid—this was the mid-90s in New York City. The teacher looks up at them and says, “I’m sorry I have no idea who he is. He’s never shown up to class and cuts everyday.”
The mom turns her head, looks directly at the son, and I see him go from having this smug, nonchalant attitude to having the fear of God suddenly driven directly into his heart. The mom takes an umbrella and starts beating the snout out of the kid right in front of the teacher. The teacher gets immediately flustered, but has no idea what to do.
The kid starts apologizing profusely to his mom and to the teacher. His mom then grabs him by the ear—she’s at least a couple inches shorter than him—and drags him out of the classroom. The whole time the kid is just saying he’s sorry.
28. Twin Troubles
I had identical twins in class with very similar names (like Jimmy and Timmy level similar). One was doing great and had friends, the other was pretty disruptive and a bit isolated, but their grades were more or less the same so I couldn’t tell their files apart either. I could not remember which one was which. I had to try and figure out from the parents’ body language if my guesses were on the right track.
29. Teacher Stands Their Ground
I had parents asking me to count their daughter as not late or absent because she had a “hard time” coming to school. She was late (would come in halfway through the period) or absent every day. These were really affluent parents who had never been told “no” before and had passed that lovely trait onto their spoiled daughter.
Needless to say, they were not happy when I told them “absolutely not” and then continued to explain myself by talking about “ethics” and “responsibilities.” I figured they couldn’t complain to my principal as they were asking me to abuse my professional role.
30. Tough Break for the Students
My school’s community had a horrible substance problem. Often I was facing tweaking parents, shaking, eyes and attention darting around the room. The poor kids were embarrassed by their parents and kept gently reminding them to get back on topic. I felt sorry for those kids and was never sure if it was better for those parents to come to conferences or to join the many dozens of others who just stayed home and refused to participate.
31. Asking Too Much From the Teacher
As a student-teacher, I was placed in a multi-aged gifted and talented classroom (fifth and sixth grades.). My mentor teacher was phenomenal, loved by all and incredible at her job. One little girl in our class just could not keep up. She was simply not at the level of advancement that the other kids were. She was a happy, mellow kid who didn’t really care, but her mother pushed her super hard and refused to believe she wasn’t the height of giftedness.
At the conference, I witnessed this mother berate and blame this incredible teacher, including telling her all the other parents were talking about how bad she was (lies). It ended with my mentor teacher having tears in her eyes. This woman did it all in front of her 11-year-old daughter, who was silently miserable the whole time.
32. The Most Awkward Parent-Teacher Interview Ever
While I was a student teacher I had to do a parent-teacher interview with the woman that my father cheated on my mother with. Her kid was a good kid in class and I really liked her. I don’t have nice things to say about the mother.
33. Helicopter Parenting A College-Aged Kid Works?
I’m a two-year college instructor. We typically don’t deal with parents very often, but it does happen from time to time. I had a student who came to every class except test days. This was not an entry-level course, and it is typically only taken by students intending to be STEM majors. The student left five minutes early every single class meeting, so I was unable to catch her after class.
She never took a single test. She never responded to emails. The day of the withdraw deadline, a lady showed up in my office to inquire about this student’s grade. I calmly explained that due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), I couldn’t discuss the student’s grade with her without express permission from the student, but to please pass a message to the student to check her email.
The woman told me a huge long story about the student and how she’d apparently been lying to her parents about her schoolwork and my course policies throughout the semester. She informed me that she would be back once the student got out of her next class. An hour later, the woman came in literally dragging her daughter by her ear.
I was prepared and had the student sign a FERPA release allowing me to discuss her grades with the parent. Turns out yeah, the student had lied to her mom all semester, but she had no explanation as to why she’d skipped all the tests. I was afraid her mom was going to start beating her right in front of me—she was that angry.
I advised the student to withdraw from the course, and we took care of that right away. They both left, the mom holding onto her daughter’s arm and bickering at her the whole way. I always wonder if that kid is okay, to this day.
34. When The Truth Comes to Hit You Back in the Face
I used to teach senior English for ten years. It was pretty much the only class anyone had to absolutely take senior year, unless they were behind on their three math or science courses. The course was specifically British Literature and I tried to make it as interesting as possible for students. I tried to challenge students and prepare them for college-level work, but I also allowed students to turn in late assignments for points off.
My district also unofficially required us to accept late work, as failed students meant less funding. I posted all assignments on the class website for all students to access in the event of an absence, held tutorial once a week, updated my online grades weekly, and contacted parents when students were failing. I did all of this, because in the event a student fails, you have to provide supporting documentation that you tried to help them.
Every year, I had two or three male students—I don’t know why it was usually guys—who wouldn’t complete any assignments. These kids usually had overbearing mothers who would constantly harass me and find every excuse in the book to present some fault of mine to my principal as reasoning their son shouldn’t be failing.
These parents’ usual excuse was that they “didn’t know” their kid was failing, despite the access to online grades, my phone calls, letters home, etc. On one such occasion, I was called into a meeting with a mother a month prior to graduation. Her son had failed the first semester and I was a bit surprised to see her, because she had been fairly nonchalant in our previous phone calls, saying things like, “If he fails, that’s on him.”
Well, this lady pulled out the big guns for this Hail Mary meeting. She first said I never called her and she didn’t know her son was failing. I presented my documentation on our phone calls and quoted what she said, word for word. She then stated that I was too tough on students and wanted to fail her son. I reminded her that I hold weekly tutorial for students, post all assignments online AND give students time to work on assignments in class.
Then, she complained about not knowing her son failed the first semester until it was “too late,” because his report card was sent to the wrong address. My principal pulled up their information and read back the address. She commented, “Yeah, that’s my sister’s house.” My principal asked her for her current address and she gave it.
He paused, then said, “Ma’am, your address is outside of our attendance zone.” Realizing the mistake she made, the lady got quiet for a moment then snapped, “(My son) will make up all of the work he owes for your class and attend every tutorial for the remainder of the year,” and he did.
35. How Not to Behave at a Parent-Teacher Conference
I was a substitute teacher. It was a special needs class, so there were more meetings with parents than usual. Normally, I just saw the mom, she would pick up her kid on Fridays. She was a little bit demanding and stuck up, but nothing I couldn’t handle. She talked really badly about her husband when we had a parent teacher meeting and when I called to tell what happened during the day.
Some people think these meetings/phone calls are their therapy sessions. Once she talked for an hour and a half. I just didn’t have the courage to make her stop. So her husband starts picking him up on Fridays. Okay, nothing unusual. Then he comes to the parent-teacher meeting and starts asking what I do on my free time, am I seeing someone etc., all of which just made me uncomfortable even though he didn’t actually say anything rude or offensive.
All this time his wife was sitting next to him! I then bump into him in a bar after that. He tried to buy me drinks and flirted with me. At that moment I realized he tried to flirt with me when his wife was sitting next to him in a parent-teacher meeting. What a scumbag!
36. Grandma Knows Best
Pre-school teacher here. My first year as a lead teacher I had a student who bit, scratched, pulled hair, slapped, and punched both students and teachers, including myself. Every day we were essentially beaten up by this four-year-old. Leading up to the conference, my boss advised me to keep a log of everything this child was doing, each time he slapped or bit someone, each time he yelled out a cuss word, etc.
The entire conference was this child’s mom going through my behavior log of her child and laughing. She told me that he had never exhibited that kind of behavior and was a perfect angel. She told me she had never even seen him angry. She laughed in our faces. Minutes later, the child’s grandmother, whom the parent and child lived with, called the school and told me all the things she knew her daughter wouldn’t, which included the child giving the grandmother bruises, banging her head into her headboard, dropping books on her feet, biting, scratching, pulling, and punching both his mom and the grandmother.
37. A Single Class and Teacher Can Make All the Difference
I used to teach high school art. The administration had this idea to have an evening where we all set up tables and parents went through their kid’s schedules and had a sort of “speed dating” parent-teacher conference set up. We had to bring packets of work for any kids that were failing to pass to parents to give to their kids and could set up future meetings individually if needed.
Being that I taught art not a lot of kids were failing unless they just didn’t show go to class, so it was a mind-numbingly boring four hours for me as no one except a couple of sweet students stopped by to chat. During the very last block of the evening, a mom and dad just drop into the folding chairs in front of my table.
They both had arms full of make-up packets and they both just looked so defeated. The mom looked at me with tears in her eyes and just asked, “What does my kid do wrong in your class?” I was so surprised by her question because I honestly adored her son; he was one of my favorite students! He completed every project on time and had a great personality; he constantly had me and the rest of the class in stitches!
He was always the first to volunteer to help me out with any setup or clean up and went out of his way to say “hello” to me, even on days he didn’t have my class. I took great joy in telling his parents how he was an absolute bright spot in my day and watch a little bit of the sadness fall from their shoulders before they left for the night.
When the student came in the next day he gave me a giant hug and told me thank you for saying all the nice things about him. I told him that I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true and that I hoped he treated every teacher the same way he treated me. He laughed a little and said he would work on it. When I checked his grades at the end of the semester he was working hard to pull up all of his grades. By the end of the year, he passed nearly all of his classes.
38. Sweeping Everything Under the Rug is Not Good Parenting
We expelled a kid who destroyed a classroom and office totaling about four grand worth of damage. He assaulted four staff members who were trying to contain him without touching him (no one wants to lose their job over this kid), one of them required medical attention, and he threatened to accuse his teacher of sexual and physical abuse. During the meeting with his parents, we were told that all he needed from us was “love.”
39. After a Certain Time, All You Can Do is Just Listen
We have a half-day where parents sign up for conferences and teachers hang around until 8 with a break. I was catching up on work in my classroom and eating a sandwich during my break, and this mom comes in wearing some pink yoga pants and a big parka. She looks frazzled as hell and immediately starts going on about how she is sorry for her daughter, and how she doesn’t do anything at home and basically going on about how bad her kid is.
And I’m not saying anything back to her, just listening. Then she starts going on and on about the curriculum, how it’s inadequate, and so on. But it’s nothing substantial or pointed, she’s just complaining about her kid, and the school, and whatever else. It was as if I were some sort of therapist, rather than her kid’s teacher.
She’s going on about the math curriculum and my next conference shows up at their scheduled time. The lady goes, “Sorry, thank you for taking the time,” and leaves. I didn’t say a word the whole time. I have no idea who she was. I have no idea who her kid was. It was really bizarre.
40. Some Parents Can’t Handle Praise for Their Child
During my first year of teaching, I had a mother who pretty much ignored everything I was saying and assumed it was all bad. I opened with “Hey, your daughter has shown some excellent work in class this semester.” She replies, “I doubt that, she can’t do anything!” When I try and assure her she had in fact done well with proof, she dismissed it and said she will never be as good as her siblings.
I then offered some advice for how to improve her already decent grade and the mother replies, “That’s it—I’ll ground her for a month!” From that point on everything I said she literally added another month on to her daughters “grounding time”—I ended up just summing up as quick as possible to try and save the daughter spending the rest of her life grounded!
41. Never Judge a Parent by His Prison Tattoos
I’ve been teaching for over 10 years and have had many parent-teacher meetings. Some were good, some were rougher. I’ve had meetings where I’ve been given death threats over cafeteria lunch balances (that I had no control over). But, one meeting REALLY sticks out to me. This is a parent meeting from when I taught kindergarten.
I had a meeting with the father of one of my students. He was well known in town as the leader of a gang and was the biggest drug dealer in the area. I knew this and I was quite nervous since I didn’t know what to expect. He came in covered in head to toe gang tattoos—many tears tattooed on his face from being in prison—and looking pretty intimidating.
I kept on my “teacher smile” and treated him as I would have treated any of my students’ parents. We actually ended up having a great meeting and I was thankful he had a really good kid, so I didn’t have any bad news to share! He ended up being one of my most helpful parents and attended every school event and parent meeting we had that year.
I ended up having all three of his kids throughout my years of teaching kindergarten and he was always so respectful and even helped me change my tire one day in the parking lot when I had a flat! It was so memorable because I not only learned to “not judge a book by its cover,” but he also asked me to give him advice on parenting and keeping his kids on the right track (even after they had left my class) so that they didn’t end up like him (his words).
I think he just needed someone to listen to him and hear him out. Two of his kids are in high school now and in AP classes and doing amazing with plans to attend college. The youngest is in middle school and well on her way to success as well. That one parent meeting taught me a lot about people and myself as a teacher. I’ll never forget it.
42. Don’t Ask for Teacher’s Number
I had a mother and father that wanted me to call their son over spring break and encourage him to do better. I told them that I don’t want their son’s number, and I don’t want him to have mine. They asked me why, and I got to explain to them that their son asks me out every other day. They laughed. A lot.
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