There is a good chance that as a teacher, at least one kid in the class will be an absolute nightmare. For the most part, a good teacher can find ways to deal with these students. Where things get complicated is when the parents get involved and rather than being on the teacher's side, they end up being just as bad, or even worse than their child. We wish the best of luck to these teachers on Reddit who shed some light on the fact that no amount of summers off is worth having to deal with the parents that make their life miserable every school year.
1. Runs in the Family
Elementary school teacher here. We had a student who wouldn't stop stealing things out of other kids' backpacks. We would catch him on camera and call his parents and they would just say, “No, that's his [insert stolen item], we just bought it for him.” Then, we get him on a positive behavior plan and create intentional lessons about empathy to others, setting goals to get what you want, the difference between wants/needs, etc.
Eventually, he gets enough positive days in a row that he gets released from the behavior plan and receives a free bike as his incentive for good behavior—they were donated to the school by a local bike shop. The next day, he tells me his uncle stole it and pawned it. He went right back to his old behaviors and it was heartbreaking.
2. Premium Parking
I had a student last year who was new to the school. Really nice, friendly, shy, and hilariously absent-minded. He would come to school at least two days a week with either his shirt on backward, inside out, or both. So, I wanted to talk to his parents about how his absent-mindedness was affecting his learning. Mom shows up at five. Dad shows up one hour late.
We have a good chat and they get up to go. As I'm walking them out I said I would show them the shortest way to the parking lot. The dad replies with “I didn't park in the parking lot,” so I said, “You can go the same way to the street.” He said, “I couldn't find the parking entrance so I just drove around and parked on an asphalt play area.”
Sure enough, I walk by and his car is next to the playground. It all came together after that.
3. Nepotism at Play
Students whose parents work in the building—teachers, custodians, assistants, cafeteria workers, etc.—are the worst. If the kid is a jerk and you tell the parent, you have to continue to work with that parent long after the kid is gone. I had a student in middle school who was late to my class every day with a pass from his mom.
I ended up having to go to the principal and have him take care of it.
I was teaching a sweet 13-year-old girl who obviously couldn't see the board very well and needed glasses, as she was falling behind in class. I called her mother—this is in south London so imagine a Jade Goody voice—and her mum told me to screw off and that “I didn't need freaking glasses, my mother didn't need freaking glasses so she doesn't need any freaking glasses” and hung up.
In that situation, you just feel for the girl.
5. Going Above and Beyond
Parent and child had a complaint about grading on a minor assignment. Parent emailed me, the principal, Board of Education, and Barack Obama. No reply from anyone, except the principal.
6. This Is a School Not an Octagon
I'm a high school teacher, and we have something called soft lockdowns—known as Shelter in Place by some schools—where doors are shut and locked, but classes continue as normal. These are pretty common and can be used for anything from a medical emergency, as they want everyone out of the hallway if someone needs to be cared for because high school kids are nosy, to a fugitive running around the neighborhood.
We've been in many soft lockdowns because parents have come to the school ready to hunt down and beat the crap out of a teacher. They usually come in the front office—can't access the rest of the school without someone opening the secured door—screaming, cussing, threatening everyone in the area, you get the picture. Often they're removed by the SRO and given a criminal trespass citation.
We have a pretty high rate of fights and violence between students. When I see parents acting this way, it all makes sense.
7. Irony Was Lost on Him
My partner used to be a high school teacher, and he always tells me the story of how one time one of the kids' dad's showed up at the school with a sledgehammer because they gave his son detention. If I recall, the detention was for fighting too.
8. Literally Living in His Dad’s Shadow
I taught first grade at a small private school. My first year, I had the ultimate helicopter parent. He looked at everything and got on his child's case about everything from his test scores to the quality of his homework. He always had questions about the curriculum, my teaching methods, etc. The child was a bit of a precocious boy, very smart but already rebelling from being under his dad's thumb all the time.
The dad would want to come in and observe the student's behavior. Dad would volunteer in the classroom but would spend most of his time critiquing his son. He'd then want to have long conferences about his son's behavior. I told him I thought his son acted out more when he was there and that I didn't think he should be in the classroom anymore and the dad's solution was to install a camera in the classroom so he could observe him without actually being there.
Obviously, that didn't happen. I learned a lot about setting boundaries that year.
9. Writings of a Madman
Some of the best letters I've seen from parents: “Please postpone today's test. My son left his backpack at school yesterday so he couldn't study.” “Do not ever write down my son’s name as Chris M. just because another student has his same first name. He is receiving unequal treatment because you are addressing him by his first name and the first letter of his last name. This is deeply unfair and I will be talking to your principal.”
10. No Longer a Child
I teach at a university, so my interaction with parents is very slight, but on a couple occasions I've had angry parents calling my office wanting to talk about why their kid isn't doing well in my class. I'm required to say that I'm legally not allowed to confirm or deny any student's enrollment in my class or discuss any student's progress in my class with anyone but the student, which ruffles a lot of parental feathers.
On one occasion, I had said my spiel to a parent and gotten the usual: “I pay their tuition, it's my money so it's my right, etc.” in return. Fed up, I replied with, "If you'd like to set up a proxy, you'll need to go to the registrar for a form which your son can fill out and sign, and that will allow me to talk to you.”
The parent totally lost their temper at that point. They completely snapped and screamed, “HE WON'T SIGN IT,” followed by a stream of insane verbal abuse and obscenities, mostly speculating about my parentage and my educational attainment. Good lord. I just have no clue why your kid doesn't want to talk to you about his grades.
PSA—If you are a college student, please be aware that your parents are NOT legally entitled to information about you, even if they pay your tuition. If you are a parent of a college student, please be aware that your kid is considered an adult by their institution, and professors aren't just being obstructionist jerks when they won't—as in can't—give you information.
11. Size Doesn’t Matter
When I was still a student teacher, I was asked by my cooperating teacher to sit in on parent-teacher interviews. The first parent scheduled for that night was the parent of a student who was completely tuned out in my class, usually sleeping, never did any work, never did well on tests or assignments, the usual stuff.
The student was also often caught on his phone in class watching streams on Twitch with the volume on and complaining when his phone would get confiscated. My cooperating teacher tells this parent all of our concerns in the nicest and most polite way possible, going as far as beginning to suggest homework management solutions, study tips, and even formulating a plan of action for the student so that his grades could improve come next term.
Now, if I asked you to go and look up the definition of disconnected in the dictionary, you would find a picture of this woman. Everything my cooperating teacher said, all her concerns, her suggestions, her plans of action for this student, went in one ear and straight out the other. When the teacher finished voicing her concerns/suggestions, I couldn't believe this woman's reaction.
She blinks—like one of those "I have no idea what you just said" kind of blinks—pauses for about five whole seconds, then replies with, “How many students are in this class?” My eyes immediately bulged out of my head at that response. This wasn't a classroom size problem. This was a “your child puts in zero effort” problem.
Still, the teacher politely replies with 26, relatively small for a school of more than 1,700 students. The woman stood up from her seat so violently that the teacher flinched, and proceeded to storm out of the room mumbling, “Too many. Class is too big. Too many kids. Too many.” My cooperating teacher and I were both speechless.
It turns out that she went straight to the principal's office right after the interview and began to complain to her about the class size and how it was hurting her son's education. When the principal said that there wasn't much she could do about the situation, the parent began to complain about how I, the student-teacher, obviously didn't know what I was doing for her kid to be failing, and that the regular teacher should teach the class alone.
Thankfully, the principal backed me up, but I still couldn't believe what an airhead this parent was.
12. Family of Lies
I had a student who repeatedly lied about assignments, saying he’d turned them in and his teachers had lost them. As a team, with admin present, we had a conference with mom and dad, who deflected and provided excuses that he just “Doesn’t like school” and “If my son says he did something, he did it. We value integrity in our family.”
Three months later, some friends of mine invited me to a bar a few towns away to see a band perform. Near the end of the night, I ran into the mom, who was out on a date with a man who wasn’t her husband. From that point on, she wouldn’t return any of my emails or calls about the son’s behavior. She is now an administrator in another county.
13. Get Your Priorities Straight
This was years ago but has stuck with me. I was teaching high school and my class was immediately after lunch. My class is held in a room full of computers, so there is a strict no food/drink policy. Every day, this student brings in a slushy. Every day, I give him the choice to either finish it quickly in the hallway or throw it away.
Obviously, he can’t chug the slushy, so each day he throws most of it away. I ask why he brings it, and all he has for me is that he doesn’t feel like having it during lunch. Cut to conferences. I’m meeting with mom because he is failing. He’s there with her and she doesn’t seem to mind the fact that he’s failing. All she cares about is the $1.25 I’m wasting of hers every day for making him throw out the slushy.
I guess suggesting he eat it during lunch was not the response she was looking for. Thank god my ICR teacher was there with me.
14. But Mama Said
I teach elementary music but I also assist in before school care. There was one boy in third grade that was sitting at a table with several other students. One girl was attempting to engage with the boy and he abruptly stood up, pointed at the girl, and screamed: “YOU ARE THE DEVIL”. Obviously, at this age, there needs to be an intervention, because you can’t talk to others in that fashion or with that language.
We always try and talk through emotions rather than explode. We call the mom and explain the situation. The mom’s first and only response was, “Well, if he called her the devil, she probably is the devil.” Can pretty clearly tell where that behavior comes from.
15. Figure It Out
I’m not a teacher but when I was in high school my form tutor was ranting about one child’s mum. It was the final year and exams where approaching. This one lad would come to school but sleep the entire day and never do any work, like literally none, and would often fall asleep. He was asked why he was so tired and obviously, the kid just replied, “dunno.”
After some digging, they found out his routine was—home from school, two-hour nap, play Call of Duty all through the night and then have a bath before coming to school. His mum was called in and told what was going on and that her son was going to fail everything. Her response was, “Well what do you want me to do about it?” in a tone that suggested, well you’re the teacher so it’s not my problem.
Poor lad slept through the handful of exams he turned up to.
16. Stupidly Lazy
I was a French teacher and the kid was in Level 1 French class. Clearly, he put his assignment through google translator or something. I confronted him, he admitted to it, so I gave him an F. His family absolutely lost their minds. They claimed I was calling him stupid. Long story short—the principal let him redo the assignment.
17. Pushed Over the Edge
I'm definitely not a teacher, but this is relevant, I swear. After I graduated high school, I heard that one of the best teachers I ever had ended up quitting. He was absolutely fantastic and just a very genuine human being. Everyone loved him, even if they hated the class. Well, the class behind me absolutely broke him.
I remember being a senior and watching the man become a hollow shell. At the end of that year, he ended up failing a girl because she never did her work, never tried, just kind of screwed around even with extensions and help, and constantly gave him attitude. When the mom came to talk to him, she went OFF. She accused him of being prejudiced, doing it because he just didn't like her daughter, blah, blah, blah.
She ended up suing both him AND the school and he quit.
18. Placing the Blame Elsewhere
I had this complete nightmare of a student who never did her homework, never studied and did terribly on tests. One day after class, I had a meeting scheduled with her parents to talk about her current F in the class and the possibility of her repeating the course. When the parents got here they proceeded to yell at me and make threats to what they would do if their daughter didn't pass the class.
They told me I obviously was singling their daughter out and she was doing badly because of me. My god, parents have gotten ridiculous.
19. Think Before You Talk
Middle school teacher here. Students had attended a trampoline park as a field trip to award good attendance. While there, one student had stolen a rubber bracelet. Not a big deal but still stole it nonetheless, so the principal contacted the father. The father called back and left a voicemail, basically accusing the principal and the rest of the staff of thievery as well.
He said, “How many pens do you walk out of that school with? How many pens purchased by the school do you walk out with every day? My tax money!” Anyone who is a teacher sees how funny this is because, of course, we’re providing our own pens!
20. Failed by Someone Not Something
Had a grandparent come in once and verbally attack me. She asked me to let her grandson in at lunch, on my break, so he could get his backpack and go home for his "homeschooling." After four years of our school putting huge amounts of time into his learning and him not caring in the slightest, they decided to home school him half days, where he took piano lessons and played on the computer—his description.
Then, as I was in the room, I said, "Oh! Student, take home your math homework [he never did any of it in class] and if you get time, you can finish it." At this point, she stood in front of me—I had my back up to the whiteboard so I was essentially trapped—got very close and said loudly, “I know you're a young teacher and you have all these ideas and things you want him to do, but I'm going to tell you right now, I’M NOT DOING ANY OF IT!” and then continued to go on about how this student was failed by the school, etc.
This was not only my first year working there, but I went above and beyond for this kid every single day, as did everyone else, and he just didn't care. Wonder why? While she's yelling at me, I look over and see the kid standing there nodding along with her. He was nine and this was what he thought of his teachers, via her.
After that, I avoided her like the plague. His mom came on a field trip later in the school year—an expensive one that we paid for, as she was a chaperone—and left halfway through, handing her group off to another parent. And then, on the last day of school, I gave out little gifts to each kid with personalized notes, and the grandmother came into my classroom and said, “Never in all my years have I seen a teacher do this for a child—seems untrue—this is truly special, well done.”
It was a very special year with her…
21. Same Blood, Different Brain
I got caught off-guard during a conference with the parents of two students. I didn't expect it to go south because both students were doing fairly well, but it did. One parent was absolutely furious that her daughter wasn't doing as well as her son. Furious with ME, that is. I was obviously giving him more support than her daughter.
I couldn't get her to give me any specifics about what it was she wanted me to do differently, of course. She just wanted to lay into me about my ability to do my job. Probably the most frustrating part of being a teacher is being blamed for things that you have no control over. Student gets a B instead of an A? You obviously taught the material poorly. Sigh.
22. Wrong Time to Clap Back
I called home because a kid was coming to school inappropriately dressed every day. I'm not playing the “girls bodies are distracting” card either, I'm worried because the kid is dressed like she's about to work a corner. Of course, I don't put it that way to mom, I just mention the kid is violating the school dress code and start to explain my reasoning when I'm interrupted with, “You just jealous cause you don't look as good as she do.”
23. Nurture Over Nature
As a teacher’s aide, I’ve seen quite a few badly behaved children with even worse parents, but this kid was the most “out there.” He was consistently late to school—if he ever came—and always left before the end of school, which was his only saving grace for the rest of the class. This kid was nine and still threw temper tantrums when things didn’t go his way.
He was so self-entitled and selfish that he had no friends and would constantly bully his classmates into handing over toys and lunch money. He was quite a stocky kid and knew how to throw his weight around to control other kids. But this was nothing—I repeat nothing—compared to his mother. She had multiple restraining orders from teachers and staff at the school as she would verbally and occasionally physically assault them.
Her son would spin stories about other children hurting him and teachers being mean and she would lose it. She would enter the school whenever she wanted, usually during class time, and insist on speaking with teachers. Refusal would mean getting cussed out in front of the kids—sometimes it would even get physical. She’s technically not even allowed on school property, but has disregarded this.
The police are called every time she comes, but since we’re a rural school it takes them about 25 minutes to get there. Otherwise, his paternal grandma is pleasant and is fortunately the one who usually picks and drops him off.
24. Got It From My Momma
I had a kid in third-grade who could not focus and was all over the place. ADHD for sure, though it's not my job to diagnose. Mom came in for his report card. I couldn't get the mom to focus. Every time I'd start talking about something, she’d interrupt. “So, here are your son's reading grades…Here's how he did in comprehen…” “How about math? How's he doing in math?”
I'd try to redirect her, but she'd interrupt me to go onto something else. After a while, I thought screw it, handed her the report card, and told her to contact me with any questions.
25. Read the Fine Print
It would have to be the mother who was a teacher herself, though at a different school than my own. I got a rough draft from a student—who was 16 or 17—that was 90% copied directly from Wikipedia, hyperlinks and all. I called the mom and explained he would be receiving a zero for the rough draft assignment as a result of plagiarism.
She called a conference to defend it because I never explicitly said they couldn't copy and that he should get another chance because it was a rough draft. Never mind the Honor Code each student signs at the beginning of the school year that explicitly laid out plagiarism and the standard consequence of a zero, I guess.
26. That’s a Bit of a Stretch
Parent tried to tell me I made up punctuation to disadvantage her son. It all made sense after that.
27. Not Everyone Is Equal
First-year high school teacher here. I had a student last year who was a bit of a bully to one of the other kids and never really took responsibility for his actions. It turns out his mother is a bigger bully than her son. During parent/teacher conference day, she came into my classroom with 30 minutes left in the school day and demanded to know why her son received an 83% on a group project.
I calmly explained the reasoning. Then she demanded I change the grade—this was after the report cards were already printed. The project was in February, and this was the end of March. When that couldn't be done, she demanded to see the other group's grades. When I refused to discuss their grades, her son mentioned that the other group got an A—they're very open about sharing what they got.
He can tell his mom. I can't. Then, when I refused to tell her why they got a higher grade on the project, she accused me of treating her son poorly in my class because of his race, forgetting that everyone in his group got the same grade, including the boy who is my own race, not that that had anything to do with what grade they got.
At that point, I was upset, annoyed, and frustrated, so I basically kicked her out of my classroom and told her to speak with our headmaster if she'd like to file a complaint. Then she gets all in my face and says, “Are you going to cry?” with this smug look on her face. This was my first real confrontation with a parent, so my face was probably red by that point.
After she left, I sent a long email to my headmaster explaining everything. The next Monday when he came in, he called me in his office and told me that I wasn't the first teacher she tried that with and if she ever comes back, I should get him or another administrator to be in the room during the conference. I guess I know why her son is a bully.
28. Terrible Timing
I'm not a teacher, but I do work for a tutoring company. One kid who I'm working with is struggling to complete assignments and just doesn't seem to care at all about school, despite being brilliant. I've work with him for weeks and we're finally seeing improvement. His attitude is still garbage, but he's willing to work.
Then, his mom takes him out of HIGH SCHOOL for a week for vacation, and I realize all of a sudden that despite her lip service to how important school is, she doesn't actually get it. And her son picked up on her attitude. He lost almost three months worth of progress in one week. I had no idea how to call her out on how bad of an example she was setting with that vacation.
29. Read Between the Lines
I was teaching a freshman Economics course at my university and had a girl show up to maybe three classes that semester, and at the end of the semester, she came up to me and begged, asking if there was ANYTHING she could do to pass the class. I gave her an extra credit packet and told her to get the whole thing done by next week and we can talk.
Well, she did nothing and failed the class. I get a call from her mother asking why her daughter failed my class and if there was ANYTHING she could do. I told her it was too late now and I had given her daughter a way to fix the issue. Not a week later, I get a call from her father telling me I'm a smart man and how much would it take to have the grade “fixed.”
I have to report stuff like bribery as it's against the ethics code, so when I told that story to the department head he looked at me and asked: “Why didn't you report the sexual advances from the student and mother?” I looked at him blankly like, what are you talking about? That's when it dawned on me—when they said ANYTHING, they didn’t mean more work.
30. Message Not Received
I used to teach middle school in a small, rural town, and I had one kid who was very nice, but lackadaisical and had Ds in most of his classes. His mom worked as a secretary at the district office and I, along with every other teacher in the school, had contacted her multiple times about his behavior in class and lack of effort.
I was a first-year teacher and we had a parent conference with him and the mom towards the end of the year, as he was at risk for not moving on to the next year. She talked down to each of us and acted as if we had not given her warning. Before I can get a word out, she points her finger at me and yells, “And I don't even want to TALK to you about his grade in your class! I disagree with your unfair grading policy.” I take 50% off late work, more than any of my coworkers do.
Sure enough, he fails and doesn't participate in the ceremony. His punishment from his mom? Going on a weeklong trip to Disneyland before school gets out.
31. On to the Next One
I had a five-year-old in the classroom next to mine who would slam kids' hands in doors, stomp on their feet, and just be violent to any other kid for no reason. His mum—a lawyer—requested he be moved to a different room because it was clearly the teacher’s fault. It continued in his new class, and was still the teacher’s fault.
At the end of the year, he moved to a new school. The new school ended up having to get a Crisis Intervention team because of his behavior, but it was still never his fault.
32. Three for the Price of One
This one kid kept getting caught smoking pot or having drugs with him in school. Then, his dad showed up to a meeting reeking of pot so badly that you could smell it in the hallway for like ten minutes after he walked through it. The guy was actually high as a kite...at the superintendent's hearing for his son’s drug charges!
I also had a parent tell me it was my fault her 18-year-old got in trouble because I “should be watching him better!” He is in jail now and we joke that it was the police officers fault for not watching him better! Like, they didn’t deny he did anything wrong, just that anything he did wrong was the fault of the person who should be watching him—at 18 years old.
One of my favorite inappropriate moments is when a kindergartener gave the class the finger and the parents came in to talk about this. The dad was insistent his kid couldn’t have done this because he has gross and fine motor delays and is incapable of giving the finger. I told him he had to use both hands and hold all the other fingers down to do it.
His dad was like, “What, he did?! My son is resourceful! Damn if he don’t let that stop him!” Then sat with a smug grin on his face and nodding his head and I just burst out laughing. Like, the dad was so proud his son found a way to do this that he completely forgot his kid stood up and waved the middle finger at everyone.
33. Family Drama
We had two students who were part of the section eight relocation program for our district. Basically, an upper-middle-class district took in certain families and gave them rent-controlled apartments. They could attend the schools so long as the parents and any other adults kept everything civil. Too many tickets or citations and the gravy train ends.
So, these two students families HATE each other. Both families are conniving to get the other ejected first from the district/town. Problem is, both are very excellent at this so they are neck and neck. Each family has one more strike. So things calm down for a while, little stuff happens, but nothing major...until one family tries to snitch on another's drug dealer to get them kicked out.
Both girls get into it over this drama about snitches. The end of the school day comes, and the two girls end up meeting in the alley behind the school, the one that has no fewer than six cameras. Thing is, both the girls' families show up, too. So now we have around eight adults and probably 10 minors, just screaming and acting pretty darn ghetto the whole time.
Then one adult throws a platform shoe, and it clocks the first-grader in the face. All hell breaks loose and for about a minute and a half, both families are just tearing each other apart. Police show up, arrest all the adults, find new family adults to come pick the minors up and cite both families. By the end of week, all the kids are out of the district.
We got much more appreciative families next go around.
34. Took It a Tad Too Far
Middle school science teacher here. I confiscated a boy's phone for texting a girl in class. We had a policy that the parents had to come to the school and retrieve the phone from the administration. Instead, the father showed up in my classroom and threatened to kick my ass if I didn't give him the phone back. The school went on lockdown and he was arrested.
He got a month in jail for his idiocy.
35. Somebody Get It Together
Teaching summer camp now. My group this week is the most disordered group of kids I have ever had. Like, these kids cannot keep it together for a single minute straight. One day, we had an alternate pick up location and not one single parent could figure it out. Not one. I get why their kids are so incapable of basic functions now.
36. Setting a Terrible Example
We were watching a video in class about the nutrition in different foods. A woman starts talking about pizza's nutritional content and a young man calls her a “fat pig,” shouting it out in front of the class. I phone home to let the parents know why I have this young lad in detention. The next day, I hear from another student who got a lift with him to school that the parent was playing the voicemail on speaker in the car and laughing about the whole thing.
37. Light at the End of the Tunnel
Secondary school teacher here, and a new teacher at a new school. I have a year 11 student—junior—who hardly shows up to class, and when he does, he sits at the back with headphones and his patch jacket. The first few weeks, I encouraged him to try the work and he would constantly verbally abuse me. His rants revealed a lot—he thinks he’s stupid, will just fail anyway, etc.
All of his past teachers told me that he’s a difficult student and I’d be lucky if he writes a sentence per class or if I don’t get yelled at that day. A few weeks into term, I broke up a fight between him and some other students. Not even a few hours later, his dad comes running into the school grounds holding a baseball bat, looking for the kids his son got into a fight with.
He had to be taken away by police, and when I saw my student next, he had fresh bruises and a split lip. I don’t know how to give up, so I probed gently and he reveals his dad was coming in to “finish the job his son was too dumb and stupid to finish himself.” We’re halfway through the year now. He’s finished and passed two assignments and is kicking butt with our current one which really showcases his strengths—he’s an amazing artist!!
He has his bad days, and still sits in the back with headphones on, but he hasn’t sworn at me in months and there haven’t been any bruises in awhile. I have hope.
38. Take It Down a Notch
Oh oh oh! I have a new and juicy one. My mom runs a playschool/daycare center. Just yesterday, one of her teachers shook a matchbox in a kids face and said that if he doesn't go back inside after playtime she would set him on fire. One of the other teachers saw this and told my mom, so there was a lot of screaming and my mom was rolling up her sleeves to fire the bad teacher.
Then, it turns out that the MOTHER of the three-year-old child had specifically told the teacher to threaten her child with a matchbox whenever he doesn't listen. If we had a CPS type of place here, I'd be calling them right away. My mom just called a parent-teacher meeting and told all the parents to stop threatening their kids with violence.
The poor kid wasn't even a bad one, he just liked playtime a lot more than classroom time.
39. The Train Has Already Left the Station
In the past few years, I’ve probably had about three or four discipline meetings with parents of high school students where the parents literally asked me what they should do to “discipline” their child? It’s probably not going to work if your kid is already a teenager. And it’s especially awkward when the kid is sitting right there, but sure, hey, if your 10-minute assessment of me seems that positive, I’ll give you one tip?
40. Taking a Page Out of Will Smith’s Parenting Book
My first interview with a particularly troubled boy prone to violent outbursts and what not was definitely eye-opening. He’s three at this point and normally I give them more than a month to mellow out and adjust, but I had to see this kid’s parents right away. They came in and the dad sat and said literally nothing the entire time—mom was clearly the one in charge.
I laid out my observations, gave them an idea of the trajectory this kid was on and where he’d be in a couple of years if stuff didn’t get sorted ASAP. Finally, I asked them about their home life and what sort of structure they had in place for him. Mom—None. We let him do whatever he wants. Eye-opening, but not entirely unexpected.
I went through the normal spiel about how kids need some form of structure at home so that they can adjust to structure at school and how rules are important, blah blah blah, you get the idea. That woman looked me in the eye after I finished and said, “No I don’t think so. I’ve read a lot of books so I know better than you.”
I was a decade into my teaching career at this point. It wasn’t like I was fresh out of college or anything. So I metaphorically threw up my hands and wished her well. Three years later, she’s in my office crying her eyes out, seven months pregnant and worried that the monster she created is going to hurt her new baby.
It took every ounce of self-control I had to not whip out an “I told you so.”
41. No Shame
A boy in my year one class peed in the sink. When his dad came to collect him, I told him his son had been in trouble and why. The dad’s response was, “So, what's wrong with that!”
42. Gimme, Gimme Never Gets
We gave out awards at the end of the year. The next day, one kid—who I didn't particularly like—comes up to me and says, “You need to get me a new certificate.” I was like, “Sorry?” Then he says, “My dog ripped up my certificate so you need to get me a new one.” I said I'd see what I could do but I wasn't going to make any effort to do it with that sort of demand. If he'd asked nicely then I might have.
Later in the day, the parents were coming up to me and thanking me for everything I'd done for their kids that year, etc. His mum waits in the line and when she gets to me she just says, “Make sure he takes his PE kit home,” and walks off. So entitled and rude, especially when I had done his mum favors to help out her business earlier in the year and had no thanks in return for that either.
43. Context Is Crucial
I had a fun class and there was one joker kid who was asking questions about stuff that was coming up in the next chapter. I answered his question, telling him to keep it in mind for the next chapter. A week or two later we get to that chapter. He mentions that he knows it so I think it would be funny if he taught it using my slides while I sat in his chair and pretended to be a student.
The kids thought it was great. He did a pretty good, too. When he made a mistake, I'd pretend to ask a question with the correction built-in. Everyone had a great time and seemed to learn a lot. Next week, the kids' parents come in and accuse me of picking on him and trying to embarrass him. At no point did they think to ask him if he had been embarrassed.
They had tried to make an appointment with my principal to throw me under the bus without even talking to me. Luckily, the principal was awesome and just told them to go talk to me. Just goes to show, you don't know what your students are telling their parents and even if it's the truth, how parents are interpreting it.
I feel bad for the kid because he and I got along so great before that incident but I wouldn't think of kidding around with him after that.
44. Irresponsible Faculty Meeting
One of my favorite moments: I walk into the school office to check my mailbox. A parent of one of my students sees me and says very loudly, almost screaming, "Oh, FINALLY!!!! LOOK, EVERYONE, I FOUND A TEACHER!!! Do you realize that I left work EARLY to come here after school to talk to my son's teachers about his report card, and you are LITERALLY the ONLY teacher I have found?!!! I went from classroom to classroom and everyone is GONE!!! Do you know what time it is?!! It's 3:45 pm! School ended FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO!!! FIFTEEN MINUTES!!!! And you're the ONLY teacher STILL HERE!!!! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERYONE IS GONE?! CAN YOU EXPLAIN TO ME WHY EVERY TEACHER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING WHEN SCHOOL JUST GOT OUT?!!!!"
I paused, waiting to see if there was more. When I realized he had finished, I said, "All the teachers are in the library. We're having a faculty meeting." The look on his face was priceless. He knew he was in the wrong, but by that point, he had committed so fiercely to his anger and righteousness that he couldn't just apologize. So he said, "Well that's just irresponsible." And he walked out of the office.
45. Homework For Dinner
A woman I used to babysit for worked in a school as an assistant or something in Toronto, she always told this story about how the class rabbit would go home with a new kid each weekend. They kept trying to avoid giving one kid the bunny for the weekend because it was clear his home life wasn't the best. But they finally caved and let him take the rabbit home.
The parents killed the rabbit and ate it. They killed the class bunny and fried it up for dinner. They weren't even ashamed when they told the teacher what happened on Monday. Said they were out of groceries or something. I wish I had more details, but I haven't seen this woman in a few years, so I only remember the basics of the story.
This incident happened around 20 or more years ago so I'm not sure about the aftermath. I had almost completely forgotten about it until I saw this thread and was reminded of this. As far as I remember, the family was very clearly trashy and irresponsible and that's why the school didn't want that kid to take the animal for the weekend.
46. When Toys Aren’t for Kids
We were talking about the difference between men and women, men have penises and women don't, blah blah blah. That one boy goes “My mum has a penis too,” and we are going “Oh no sweetie she doesn't,” but he insists, and it starts becoming uncomfortable. After a while he says, “my mum HAS a penis, only it is not attached to her body, she keeps it in the drawer by the bed.” Kid-logic is so precious.
47. Can’t Force Fun
This is teaching adjacent. I used to be an educational facilitator at a science center. During the school year, I would be the liaison for school trips and during the summer, I would run the summer camps. Parents used to like to plunk their kids in science camp because it is educational. We had a pile of hands-on programming.
I have to say, it was pretty fun! Fun unless your kid aggressively hates science and you are forcing them to be there. Enter Jason. Jason was trouble on day one. We welcome them to camp by making liquid nitrogen ice cream. Jason didn't care at all. He refused to eat “stupid nerd ice cream.” Throughout the day, his attitude got worse.
He refused to participate and called the other kids “nerds” and “losers.” He was an all-around pain in the butt. At pick up, I pulled his mother aside and said, “I don't think Jason really wants to be here. We can arrange for a refund or see if we can transfer him to another program he will find more to his liking.” His mother replied, “It's your job to make him want to be here, clearly you suck at it.” Great.
Day two, Jason shows up with an even bigger chip on his shoulder. The day's activity was engineering! Fort Building! Every kid loves a good fort—except Jason. Jason picked up one of the plastic tubes and cracked a kid across the back of the leg with it. As I ran over to tend to his victim, Jason cracks me across the side of the head with the tube with all his might, breaking my glasses and giving me a decent bruise across the side of the face.
It takes two of us to disarm Jason and separate him from the group. We pull him into the admin office and call his parents to come now. He is no longer welcome. His mother shows up a good three hours later, absolutely livid. Not about Jason's behavior. Not in the least. There was no apology or understanding. Instead, as we ejected her son from camp, she turned to us as said, “I hope you all get cancer.”
48. Twisted Views on Life
We had one child who was super aggressive, and I mean SUPER aggressive toward his classmates. Like, the kid couldn't take any criticism. He couldn't stand losing during gym/soccer. He was generally just a bag of frustration and pent up anger. I remember one gym class I ran, we played football and his team's goalie didn't save a penalty.
The aggressive child went absolutely nuts on this poor goalkeeper. I had to pull him off and send him to the principal's office. He instead decided to leave the school and go home. Enough was enough. All the teachers agreed we needed to get his parents into school, as this behavior could NOT continue. Well, it all made sense when the mum came in to speak to us.
First, she excused his violent behavior during sports, claiming he's so much better than his classmates and having the patience to “deal” with their incompetence takes its toll on him and he “understandably” lashes out when he feels others aren't trying as hard as he is. This actually happened and I could not for the life of me believe what I was hearing.
This was my first year teaching at that school by the way. Regarding his aggressive behavior in class, her response…“Well, I don't mind him being angry and fighting, because honestly? At least he won't grow up to be gay.” THAT was her response. The one or two teachers that did speak up spoke well and told her that regardless of her ideologies, this behavior cannot and will not be tolerated.
He ended up moving schools—thank God.
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