It’s quite shocking to read in the news about the aggression shown towards teachers by parents. There have been several reports of teachers receiving abuse and even worse; intrusion into their private lives by offensive parents, both physically and through online media platforms. This article is a good example.
There are many short comings with the education system and parents understandably have concerns, especially when their child is not progressing at the expected rate, or has more personal issues like illness, bullying, behavioural changes, or deep seated unhappiness. And parents are right in getting involved in trying to find solutions. But it’s often the system that’s at fault rather than the teacher – they are as much at the mercy of inappropriate policies as the children are.
Unfortunately though, the teacher is often the target for blame and the figurehead for confrontation. Since solutions will be complex and never easy to find, parents can rightly feel frustrated when their child’s issues are not resolved. So it’s important to remember at this point that this is usually because of the demands of the educational system, rather than the personal fault of the teacher.
The teachers and schools are as much a victim of these challenging demands as the children are. Educational policies put increasing pressure on everyone, most particularly through the methods of scrutiny and assessment which the teachers (and schools) are subject to as much as the children. The teachers can be caught between an aggressive parent and fear for their own career if they don’t meet expected targets and statistics. So a little understanding of that could help when parents are seeking solutions.
Admittedly there are cases when an individual teacher is at fault, but if we look at how hard it is for a teacher to accommodate everyone’s needs, we might find explanations for the way things happen. I’m not excusing poor teaching; I’m just raising awareness of the difficulty of the job, parental misunderstanding often making it worse.
However, the important issue is to find solutions for the child within all this. So if you’re a parent with concerns some of the ways you can tackle this is by:
- Establishing communication with the teacher in the first instance, then with the head or governors if it needs to go further
- Being clear beforehand as to your main point of concern – and stick to that point rather than turning it into a catalogue of gripes. If it’s something you’re really angry or emotional about allow a cooling off period before you tackle it
- Avoiding it becoming personal – unless it really is – in which case objective others should be present.
- Working out beforehand what outcome you want – within the parameters of the system and the people delivering it. Thinking about this helps to keep it practical rather than personal. And it may help you be aware of the independent decisions you might have to make in order to achieve changes.
- Remember that aggression towards anyone – teachers or otherwise – is never helpful.
For further information about complaining about a teacher see this previous article.