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Friends, we are inching closer and closer to winter break. You’ve almost made it. As we approach this exciting time of year, I knew I wanted to discuss a topic that I can’t believe I haven’t covered on the podcast before, which is how to handle difficult parents.
In episode 145 I talked all about the disillusionment phase. This is the phase of teaching that you are likely experiencing as a new teacher during the month of December. One of the many reasons that this time of the year is so difficult is because we’ve just gone through parent-teacher conferences. It’s quite possible that you had one or more parents respond in a way that you weren’t expecting. Maybe it’s a parent who doesn’t agree with your classroom management style or a parent who is challenging a grade that you gave their child.
By this time of year, it’s also likely that you may have had a slightly critical, or just plain nasty, email or phone call from a parent. This is the kind of thing that can keep you up at night overthinking things and feeling like you’re doing something wrong as a teacher. You’re starting to see that dealing with difficult parents is just as challenging as dealing with difficult students. Unfortunately, these situations are yet another example of challenges that we suddenly realize we haven’t been prepared for until we are in the middle of it. Add it to the list, right?
During your time teaching, you will encounter all kinds of parents. Many of them will be so incredibly supportive and helpful that you’ll feel like you won the “room parent lottery”. Others are going to give you a run for your money.
There will be the parent who insists their child never does anything wrong.
There will be the parent who accuses you of not giving their child enough attention.
There will be the parent who constantly tries to intimidate you because they are so used to getting what they want.
With all of the possible parent-teacher scenarios, it is so important that you prepare yourself for how to approach these situations.Learning to handle parents effectively is a learned skill set. We absolutely can learn strategies that will help to improve relationships with parents. It is important to remember that it’s not that you aren’t good at managing these relationships, you just haven’t been taught (or had opportunity enough to practice) the skills.
One of my favorite resources for dealing with difficult parents is a book called How to Handle Difficult Parents by Suzanne Tingley. It’s a very empowering and entertaining read that will give you so many relatable examples and practical strategies to use when you need them. Suzanne showcases many of the different kinds of parents that you may interact with in a humorous way. I’m sharing several examples from this book in today’s episode. I hope it helps you to feel more comfortable, confident, and calm with future difficult parent interactions.
You can purchase your own copy of How to Handle Difficult Parents by clicking the image below.
I hope this information is helpful as you prepare for your first, second, or third year of teaching. Until next time, remember, just because you're a beginning elementary teacher, there's no need for you to struggle like one.
Dr. Lori Friesen | Beginning Teacher Mentor
Creator of the R.E.A.D.Y. for School Academy, Dr. Lori Friesen has mentored thousands of beginning teachers across the country through her workshops and courses. Host of the popular podcast, Beginning Teacher Talk, and creator of the innovative literacy program for 1st and 2nd grade, Dogs Help Kids Read and Succeed, Dr. Lori is dedicated to serving educators and inspiring learners. Learn more at drlorifriesen.com and at howdogshelpkids.com.
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