Being a teacher is already a hard job. But then there are the times you have to tell the parents something you don't feel equipped to handle about their child...and that hurts even more. You care about your kids, and you want to make sure they're getting the attention they deserve.
Here were some of the hardest answers.
I was involved in a case of harassment - the boy said some extreme things to me when I walked past him.
In the disciplinary hearing, I had to tell the parents everything that he said and use as many words as possible. The parents were upperclass people and they seemed nice.
With every sentence that I said, their faces dropped more and more.
He obviously didn't learn this from them, and they were horrified.
Of Course What Really Matters Is The Blame
Wife used to say it was really hard to tell a parent their child had special needs (autistic was most common). She said most parents would have no really idea, put the kids in kindergarten then the teacher would identify pretty quickly the child wasn't just a bit behind but had more going on. She would basically bring it to the parents attention it would be in everyone's best interest to have the child assessed, and most often she's be met with anger and denial and many times she was even blamed somehow.
This One Hurts
I used to work as a teacher assistant when I was in university. I remember once we had a student who showed signs of being verbally and physically abused. The teacher contacted the parents and we (principal, teacher and me) had a meeting with them to confront them about it. They deny everything, were verbally abusive towards us and then they change the girl to a different school. In my country there is no such a thing as Child Protections Services so there was little we could do. I still think about this girl.
I work in a low income inner city school that is mostly immigrants and English Learners. As teachers, we always try to keep conferences positive, but we do relay if the kid is struggling with something, we just say it's something we're working on and offer strategies to improve at home. But some of the cultural differences mean that parents are little more...traditional and sometimes get angry with their kids for not doing well. And some of them I've had to report to CPS and know that the parent in front of me may have abused the kid or the mom. So knowing that any "bad" news could get the kid injured.
The Tables Were Turned
So my family was my brother and myself. My mom had another child when she was 17 I think, and rather than trying to be a 17 year old mother (she was homeless/ in and out of foster care at the time) she put the kid up for adoption. She did all the right things and she went to a really nice home and never even knew she was adopted. She was really well cared for. My mother was always really candid with us about her past and both my brother and I knew about this at a young age. So in the 7th grade my brother had told his teacher about his adopted sister. That teacher seemingly got obsessed with the idea, and like tracked down the sister. One day my brother was at another school with this teacher for like a soccer game or something like that at my sisters school. The teacher finds the sister and gets her to meet my brother.
Although my brother and I knew about her, she never knew she was adopted. And that's how she found out. Needless to say my mother was livid.
Your kid is going to fail again. It was policy in my district to pass those type of kids automatically if they even tried but when they don't turn in a single thing it's very hard. It's not so bad when the kid is a jerk but this kid was actually really nice so double whammy.
Worst though I experienced was a kid was writing suggestive stories about being attracted to a teacher which she asked me to proofread and correct. I checked her schedule and I was the only teacher under the age of 50. Administration is notoriously slow but once reported that sh-t was handled in under an hour. By the end of the day she got transferred out of my class and had her parents called. With bad timing I was in that office as her mother and father came out of a meeting discussing the situation. Dad was at least 300 lbs and buff and did not look happy to see me there. Never saw that girl on my hallway again.
One of my favorite rants from a parent was about lice. She called me up really angry that the nurse had sent home her daughter again. The mom said the lice was gone and it was just some dead eggs left and "the nurse is really being a nitpicker about this."
The Curse Reversed
I know a lot of teachers struggle to get parents to understand their child's' education needs, so this should be refreshingly different!
I had a student who had special needs and a parent that told me that their student wasn't smart enough to learn the science I was teaching. They also demanded that their child get more attention and more assistance than was required by their paperwork... this child was only low in reading, so I actually had to tell this parent that their child is smart and works hard and will be able to do things the other students do. The mom even tried to argue! I was so shocked... like how can you not believe in your child like that!?
Never thought I would have to do that.
I've had to tell parents their child was trying to look at porn on the school computers, which is dumb as the system locks any of that kind of search down automatic and emails the destitute head.
I once had to tell a parent her child was put into detention for being racist, head of department had heard it as had half the class. It was pretty vile and she just refused to believe it and I got shouted at.
The worst one was calling home to tell a parent a child had been badly hurt by another child in my room. The child who had slammed a door and caught another child's hand in it, tried to blame me for it. I have never been so glad of CCTV in my life. Again, her parents denied she did it but we had video evidence. I did not have to be in the room for that conversation.
Accept Your Child For Who They Are
I've had to tell parents that their child is not really G/T (gifted and talented) and that they would be more successful in a on grade level classroom. This is after collecting numerous pieces of evidence and at least 2 marking periods of D or E grades. So the burden actually falls on me to prove their child would be more successful in an on grade level classroom.
Now some people may be asking why was this hard? Because they parents desperately wanted their kids to be G/T so badly they were literally willing to do anything to make sure their kids got that label. I am talking about near- constant tutoring out of school hours, outside academic clubs that promise to improve student scores, punishing their kids for not succeeding, etc. I have seen kids' souls basically disappear in a school year because of how hard parents push their kids. It has also caused an increase in the number of our students who seek student counseling services at school due to stress, anxiety, etc. Being labeled "G/T" in my school's area is such a status symbol, 2/3 of our incoming 6th grade class are labeled G/T. Parents can waive their child in, so its only going to get worse in the upcoming years.
Please Have The Conversation
Not a teacher... YET! (Graduating next year!!!) But taken enough classes and seen enough to suggest to my aunt that their four year old wasn't developing in an average way. I babysat the kid since he was born and always noticed he didn't speak at all. My aunt always asked me how to "make him smart" and she seemed interested in her child, or at least she acted like it, because she just dumped that kid in a room with a tv and didn't let him touch the floor until he was three. I would try my hardest to bring blocks or let him crawl without her seeing. I started bringing books in his native language and English to read to him, hoping that would help.
My aunt came in and asked me why I was reading to him because "he's a child he won't understand you!" Even though I explained the benefits (Come on, read to your child even if he's a fetus!) she thought it was dumb. This kid was the golden baby boy of the family, and for some reason no one saw how language deficient he was! At four years old, he could only repeat the word 'fish' and only after multiple people made it a game for him to do so.
She moved away but recently visited us again, and I hoped that the kid would be better, but for two hours he screamed, cried and acted like a literal newborn. No words spoken, not even 'mama'. I got real f---ing worried! Once we were alone I basically asked my aunt what was up and she just looked at me perplexed and promised her kid was speaking.
I couldn't press the issue because she just wouldn't have it at all. She said no one has ever said her child wasn't developing well. I was like...dude your kid has never been in daycare or preschool and the family thinks the kid is an angel just cause he's cute.
Well, my comment cause a whole ruckus in the family with even my grandma asking me what the f-ck was wrong with me saying the perfect child was not perfect. People are so f---ing ignorant, and it's sad cause it's not them who are gonna suffer the consequences or work hard to deal with whatever he's going through.
TW: Self Harm
When I taught fourth grade, I had a student who was cutting herself. We ended up having her parents come in and meet with us and the school counselor. My student was terrified to talk to her mother about it but we explained that this was important and we would be there to help. Her mom did not take the news well. The student also wanted to tell her mom about a male neighbor that made her feel uncomfortable in which the mom just shouted at the girl and told her she was stupid. Poor kid. I wish I knew how she is doing now.
TW: Eating Disorders
That I was very worried about their child being anorexic. They refused to believe it and we had to call in the counselors and principal to help with the discussion. Turned out that she was very much so, ended up in the hospital off and on for years. She is now a thriving successful mother of 2
It's Only Been A Week Dude
Your son was looking up "Japanese girls legs." It was my second week teaching.
Um, I'm Sorry What?
I taught 3rd grade last year, so the child was 8 going on 9. I had to tell her mom (who seems mentally challenged) that she was touching several of the girls inappropriately, and that I had also found porn names written in one of her notebooks that she wanted to give herself when she and another student (male and was unaware of her obsession with him) were going to have sex in the bathroom. The parents (as well as I) wanted the girl removed from the class; admin didn't feel it necessary and asked me to talk with the counselor about "interventions."
When I told her mother about the incidents, she said nothing other than, 'she crazy.'
He Never Spoke
I was a substitute teacher in a kindergarten. I was working with 3-5 years olds first and we had this boy, who was really difficult. Let's call him Matt. Matt was 5, but would get these temper tantrums that lasted for minutes. He could scream for 15 mins, throw up and continue. When he had a good day he was an angel. He behaved like a 3 years old and I found out he is behind in his development. Fine, parents knew and didn't really care. In fact, Matt's dad was a little bit slow himself. Still, you could see he was a good dad and cared about his sons. Mom was a little bit strange, but hard working, kind and loving. In my eyes, good, caring parents.
Matt had an 1 and a half year old brother, lets call him Oliver. Oliver was the golden child. Their smart son, who they always praised. Didn't really talk yet or seem to understand speech. He didn't point to balls or flowers in books, couldn't mimic words, didn't follow any directions. Didn't protect himself in any way, he would just play with scissors even when getting cut (happened when I wasn't at work and my coworker let him climb on a freaking shelf before noticing), eat needles (I fished one out of his mouth after the same coworker had been looking after him...) and jump from anywhere, if you let him. He usually tried to jump down head first. No big deal, he was 1.
But he wasn't. I had just thought so because of his skills. He was almost three. So I had to tell the parents that their sweet, only "normal", smart child, would in fact need some tests because he is not developed enough for his age. I didn't use those exact words, but still. They completely refused. Their son was almost 3 and hadn't said his first word. My job ended soon after that and it has been over a year now, but I still wonder about them.
Not a teacher, but when I was in second grade my teachers told my mum that I need to be in a "special needs" class for mentally challenged. Because I had trouble copying things from the blackboard. In forth grade they told my mum I am to lazy to persuade a higher education, so I stayed at the school I was. Now I have a university degree in computer science and not much trust in teachers.
Turned out my "special need" in second grade was glasses....
On a completely different tone as some of the other ones but a lot of my year sevens HATE learning japanese!
They put barely any effort into the work and get low scores on tests, but parents are REALLY excited because their kids are learning an oriental language and most of them drill their kids on the vocab every other day.
Most of the kids eventually get to enjoy the subject, doing alright by the end of year exams, but this year (a few weeks ago) one of my students got 16% in the exams, even after I had spoken to him many times, and even called his mother who ensured me they had been doing nightly practices and he was becoming more fluent.
Of course when she received the grades she requested a parent teacher meeting demanding to talk to me... she told me he had been reciting his Japanese to her every night and she 'knew' good Japanese when she heard it. When I asked her 'really huh' in mandarin (which I dabble in! not fluent) and she told me that she had heard her son saying that in the recitals.
Asked her if she could remember anything the kid had said, but she didn't, and she eventually left, only after a long argument about changing his grades (which I of course refused).
I F*CK YOU NOT THIS HAPPENED!
The VERY NEXT DAY, she barges into my office at 5.27pm (exact) with her son in tow, and he looks like he's about to sh*t himself. I ask them what the f*ck they want at this fine hour, and she replies with something along the lines of.
"My sons here and he will prove it to you now! Ha!"
Student stands there with trembling lips and blurts out some sh*t ALL IN MANDARIN CHINESE! I didn't understand half of what he said, but I stood there with my jaw on the ground, just plain shocked!
With a tone of amazement, I slowly told her that he was talking mandarin, and to get out of my f*ckin office right now before I go into shock at your immensely low IQ!
Pyrex Ain't Wood, Girl
Fortunately as a TA I don't have to talk to parents (in fact my school doesn't allow me to say anything specific to parents at all, just '[child's name] is a wonderful kid' or other positive non-academic-related things like that). But some of the kids at the school I work at have parents who are teachers at that same school, so sometimes I have to tell their parents what they are up to.
The 'hardest' thing I ever had to explain was to a 5th grade teacher that their 2nd grade daughter had absolutely destroyed the pyrex bowl they had brought to class (it had chex mix in it for a class party) by 'accidentally' throwing it across the classroom to show just how indestructible pyrex is.
So I am a teacher assistant and one day a teacher from another class was sick so I had to help, and there were these twins who I would say were special.
One main thing is they were going to kindergarten soon but those 2 can't speak, they cannot communicate and they have no clue what others are saying.
I had to tell their parents, which was hard cause I was trying to say it in a not-so-rude way and not to offend them. To be fair, their parents aren't good parents, one time one twin had a tantrum and the dad just stood there smiling looking at his kid on the ground, I asked if he needed help and he said 'no, it's fine'.
Children Need To Be Listened To
When I taught fourth grade, I had a student who was cutting herself. She actually brought a razor to class one day to show her friend. We ended up having her parents come in and meet with us and the school counselor. My student was terrified to talk to her mother about it but we explained that this was important and we would be there to help. Her mom did not take the news well. The student also wanted to tell her mom about a male neighbor that made her feel uncomfortable in which the mom just shouted at the girl and told her she was stupid. Poor kid. I wish I knew how she is doing now.
Not a teacher, but i had one guy in my class when i was in high school who thought that if he killed a person on his 16th birthday he would become the sun prince and when he turned 18 he would be the sun god. He had packed knives in his pencil case and he drawings of how to cut people's wrists. It was pretty weird and then the police came and took him away.
Bonus points: about 2 months later he showed up at my work where i used to do the dishes, he was my new co-worker. Guess who went to the chef and said its either me gone or him gone. It was his first and last shift.
Sometimes Things Are Just Weird
Not a teacher but my parents came from school meeting once and told me how teacher had trouble explaining what's going on. Basically we had swimming classes as part of pe in high school, special need kid ran around naked rubbing "it" on other dudes and one kid didn't react well. They couldn't kick the kid and they called parents to get signatures to change the regional big head decision.
Either way our super cool and calm swimming instructor had to explain the issue to like 40 mom and dads and he didn't do well.
Sorry Bout My Mom, Dude
I'm not a teacher but I feel bad for one of my teachers. I have ADHD. It's obvious that I have ADHD. Teachers in my entire grade school career had to work really hard to get me to focus because of the ADHD. During my freshman year of high school my physics teacher tried to do me a favor and, during a parent teacher conference, attempted to speak to my mom about my struggles with my attention span (which I was also willing to admit I had) only to get a verbal lashing from my mother. I wish I could thank that teacher for trying while also apologizing for my mom's bad behavior. I also feel bad for teachers who have to deal with people like my mom who refuse to believe that their kids might have a problem.