There is only one to two chances per year for your teachers and parents to meet face to face.
Students dread this. Suddenly your parents get to learn about all of your missing homework and otherwise lazy transgressions that they need not have known before. But sometimes teachers dread this too--they don't know your parents. They don't know if you're crazy or not. But at least there's a good story.
Here were some of the answers.
Had a meeting about a kid who wouldn't turn anything in ever. But of course according to parent definitely not the kids fault. Teachers screwing the kid over. Never got the instructions. Best excuse: someone broke into his locker and stole specific assignments.
The conversation basically devolved into something like this:
Parent: "We don't appreciate you teachers, the school, or how you didn't take the locker break in seriously."
Me: "We looked into the situation. Camera footage confirms no break in ever occurred on the date your student told us it happened."
Parent: Enraged "So you're telling me my child LIED about this?!?"
Parent: Still enraged "Well how can you be so sure?? People break into cars all the time!"
Me: "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.
I've had a couple of interesting interactions with parents during my brief time as a classroom 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 just not reading. She'd keep waiting for me to turn my attention to another kid, 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."
The kid shaped up in class, needless to say.
It Only Takes One Person To Change An Attitude
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.
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 set up 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.
When One Part Of Life Isn't Productive, Turn To Another
I had a student who was a bit of a trouble maker. 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. Queue 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.
All You Need Is Love(?)
We expelled a kid who destroyed a classroom and office totaling about 4 grand worth of damage. He assaulted 4 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 physical abuse.
During the meeting with his parents we were told that all he needed from us was "love".
Not A Therapist But Ok
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 just not saying anything, just listening. Then she starts going on about the curriculum, how it's inadequate, and so on. But it's nothing substantial or pointed, she's just b*tching about her kid, and the school, and whatever else more like I were some sort of therapist 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.
It Seems Like A Bad Situation
I recently had a meeting with parents to discuss the fact that their child is essentially mute, does not interact with his peers, and does not participate in class. The parents brought in gifts for me (which I will keep anonymous just in case). When I told them that I was concerned about their son, they repeatedly told me they have "observed him at home and at church and he plays with the other kids". The class participation aspect was the only thing they cared about. It was so f*cking weird.
Looking For A Reason To Be BadGiphy
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 with '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!
Poor Kid, Poor ThingGiphy
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. "