Parent-Teacher conferences are supposed to be nerve-wrecking situations for the students, but nowadays it seems like it's usually the teacher that are on trial! These teachers got a closer look at their students' parents and let's just say that it turned out to be an interesting peek into the lives of their students for these teachers. Not every parent in these stories is the bad guy, but most of them definitely could use a parenting class. Or maybe even two. Content has been edited for clarity.
"When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher (an older guy) and I did parent teacher conferences together. We had a female student and her mom come in. This girl never played attention in class and just wanted to hang out and talk to friends, so we put her on the front row. Well, evidently she needed something to tell her mom why she was failing this class, and had told her mom that the teacher moved her to the front of the room so he could look down her shirt. So her mom comes in angry and yelling at the teacher that he's a pervert putting her daughter in the front row and harassing her. My mentor teacher just calmly turned to me and said, 'Have you noticed any of that behavior in this class? You've been the one teaching for the last two months.' The mom and daughter went silent. They had forgot that I, another female adult in the room, could witness for my teacher. They quickly left after that and I think the mom realized her daughter had been lying to her. I felt great being able to protect a fellow teacher from false accusations."
"I have a friend that is a para-educator. Basically, she assists disabled students in a K-12 setting. Currently she works with half a dozen Deaf boys in middle school and assists their interpreter.
She came to me in tears one day because she had just sat through a parent-teacher conference with the interpreter for one of the boys. His father absolutely refuses to accept that his son is deaf because he can hear very loud sounds. He spent the entire meeting yelling at the teacher for 'wasting the district's money with a fake interpreter' because he KNEW his son was faking because 'just watch,' and proceeded to throw several books on the floor, which his son reacted to.
'See? He's just doing this for attention, he's been doing this for years and he just needs to suck it up and start being a man.'
He refused to listen to the teacher, the interpreter with several years of experience, or the district representative who had the audiologist tests showing his kid has been deaf since he was 2.
The father plans to pull interpreting services when his son goes to high school next year to 'force him to accept reality.' Legally, there is nothing we can do.
It's much the same as parents who choose to homeschool their kids and don't properly educate them, or teach them religious viewpoints instead of scientific ones. If the father decides that the boy can 'hear' enough to not warrant an interpreter, he has the legal right to decide that. And the school would be on board with it because they won't have to pay for the services, saving them money.
I work at a college as an interpreter and we have dozens of Deaf students that have come in over the years with little education due to issues like this. We even have full Deaf sign language classes for students who don't even fully understand their own language due to neglect by their parents. They can't be successful in regular college classes because they don't understand the signs interpreters are using, because they didn't learn those signs growing up. So they have to start at the beginning with their own language and work up from there.
The whole situation is really frustrating. But there are many minority groups in similar situations. It's not just a 'Deaf' thing. You just do what you can to maintain an emotional distance from these occurrences so that you can be professional and still be an advocate to the community.
The idea is to ensure that minority groups (in my case, the Deaf) get equal access. This, sadly, is equal access. The family has the right to outline the education their child receives, just like a religious family has the right to pull their child from public school and teach them Creationism and homophobia."
"I was teaching kindergarten and both the mom and dad came for a visit. I showed the dad a video of his daughter dancing in class, then he pulled out his phone to show me videos of her dancing at home. She was a good dancer.
Then dad put on some dancehall music and started dancing with the mom. Club dancing, not kindergarten dancing. It was definitely not rated PG. I just sat there watching this then they started making out. Tongues included.
Another memorable kindergarten parent meeting was when the father, parent to several children by different wives (he had a few wives) offered to impregnate me. He didn’t provide the details or a timeline but said he would be honored to do so."
"I was just a stand in teacher and got offered a position as a special-needs helper. I said yes and started the job next day.
Basically what I had to do was be 'an extra pair of eyes' because this girl (lets call her Luna) had lied about two teachers assaulting her. Police had gotten involved and it turned out that Luna had invented the whole story, so my job was basically to be a witness.
Anyways, I get to the class and help out the kids with their test and Luna is acting all crazy, yelling really offensive things at the other kids (she’s about 12, so she must have heard this at home because there is no way a 12-year-old can come up with the racists, political and religious junk she was saying).
The class teacher tells Luna to go to the school's office and asks me to call the mother.
I call Luna’s mom… Luna loses her mind and starts attacking me with a chair. Her mother can hear the commotion in the background and goes off on me, screaming that I’m violating her daughter and that she’ll kill me. I end up handing the phone over to the class teacher who sternly tells the mom to calm down and come to the school ASAP.
About 30 minutes pass. I follow Luna down to the school office where she talks to the principal.
Luna’s mother arrives and comes into the office to talk. Principal tells the mother the situation and the mother refuses to acknowledge that her child is out of control (no wonder, poor girl). After about 10 minutes, the conversation reaches a dead end.
Out of the blue, Luna's mother turns to me (I’ve said very little thus far, mostly adding a clarifying comment here and there) and asks if I am the sick pervert abusing her daughter.
Taken aback, I tell her that I am not, and that I never touched her daughter. Mother then proceeds to rush over, grab my throat and try to choke me. I push her back and leave the room. Principal calls on other teacher for help and I go to the staff room.
Luna’s mother got arrested. Turned out she was on a lot of stuff.
Saddest part is that Luna has been brainwashed by her psychotic mother. Still, I’ll never forget that parent meeting…"
"My first year as a teacher, I was teaching first grade. The mom brought her lawyer with her because I was 'denying her son water.' I'd asked him to put his water bottle at the back sink so he wouldn't spill it all over his textbooks. The lawyer sat behind her and rolled his eyes the whole time. This was the same mom that told me, 'No where in the student handbook does it say a parent can't do the child's homework for them.' He would turn it every week in cursive and ink. It was a great first year of teaching."
"I had a meeting about a kid who wouldn’t turn anything in, ever. But, of course, according to his parent, this was definitely not the kid's fault. It was teachers with vendettas against the kid. He 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, we'd accomplished exactly nothing."
"This woman refused to shake my hand and told me her son hates me and she (a grown woman) hates me, too. Her son got, let’s say, 70% on a test and when I said he routinely refused to work in class and this grade would improve with more diligence, she demanded to know my class average (which I don’t calculate and wouldn’t give her anyway). Then she said that if he was above the average that he didn’t need to do any more work. She contradicted herself about four different times in the meeting. All because her son got a note sent him at the beginning of the year for taking off his shoes and putting his feet up on the desk."
"This was a doozy of a student. Mind you, these are only the meetings I personally participated in or were privy to, which are a fraction of the whole, as I only taught the student for 12 weeks a year.
Meeting 1: Parents accuse teachers/administrators of being racist for punishing child. Conference was called due to child pulling down pants in class and defecating on another student's desk. 6th grade.
Meeting 2: Parents bring lawyer with them, threatening to sue me for restraining student after student yells at a girl, 'Shut up, ugly!' and then backhanded her across the face. Their lawyer walked out of the room once he saw the video. 7th grade.
Meeting 3: Expulsion hearing, new lawyer. Student brought lighter to school and in the space of 15 minutes, lit six trash can fires throughout two wings of the building. Several thousand dollars worth of damage. At this hearing, they claim that my colleague, one of the most caring, gentle male teachers I've ever known, was the instigator of all of this and the reason for their son's acting out. The reason for this was clearly that this teacher was a racist and hated their child. Without batting an eye, my colleague, who by all appearances was Caucasian, began speaking fluently in the family's native language (Vietnamese.) Turns out the guy is a quarter Vietnamese and growing up, he spent every summer in Vietnam helping his grandparents, only to live in Vietnam for 5 years teaching after college. Cue collective jaw-drop in the room. Family doubles down. 'See! He hates us so much he learned Vietnamese to yell at us!' Expulsion approved, one year school expulsion (not from district, just to another school in district). 8th grade.
Meeting 4: (Not present at this one) Student is being processed through final expulsion hearing for spray painting ethnic slurs about Black students on the gym room lockers. Football and Wrestling students catch him in the act and proceed to crater his face in. 'No witnesses' and the only evidence tied to him is him bawling on the locker room floor with his backpack full of spray paint. He manages to avoid expulsion from district, but is expelled from that school back to his 'home' high school, where I've recently accepted a job. 9th grade.
Meeting 5 (Present in hallway at the time): Administrator walks parents to child's locker to pick up their child's belongings. This 5'1 genius thought it would be a good idea to hold up someone at knifepoint outside a convenience store. He caught a bullet in the leg instead and bled out before paramedics could do anything. His parents are wailing in hallways that this was all our fault, that their kid was just another product of racist education. A hard-nosed, retiring science teacher hears this while she's walking down the hall, turns around in fury and tells them right to their face:
'School didn't fail your child, you did. Every time he made a mistake, you looked to blame someone else. You were validating his terrible behavior. You didn't care when he almost burned down a school, you sure as heck wouldn't have cared if he HAD stabbed that man. Don't ask us to care for your child more than you ever did.'
"I teach preschool and a little girl in my class had started dropping f-bombs, just a few times, which isn’t uncommon as kids repeat what they hear at home and if they get a reaction from adults, they will say it more. She would only say it when she was frustrated with a toy or puzzle, never directed at other people. I knew the family well and had no red flags about verbal abuse or anything happening at home. I spoke with the parents about their daughter’s new habit and they were mortified that she had been cursing at school and agreed to talk with her about what words were not ok for her to repeat, and that they would try to use less colorful language at home.
Fast forward to end-of-the-year conferences (yes, preschool conferences) and I meet with this family again. Throughout the time of the meeting, dad probably said the F word about 6 times, very casually and not rudely towards me or anything. More like, 'Sorry I’m late, there was a lot of effing traffic,' and it became very clear why their daughter picked up the habit so quickly!
It’s been about a year and the little girl isn’t using the word anymore, and will clearly state, 'The f word is just for grownups! '”
"About 25 years ago, I was working in a non-public school for students with severe and profound intellectual disabilities. Most of them were non-verbal, some of them weren't quite toilet-trained. Picture teenagers and young adults with the minds of toddlers. About 30 of the students lived in housing on the school's campus, so they were there full-time, and most of those kids didn't see their families very often. But we usually had a pretty good turnout for Parent-Teacher Night.
One night, we had the mother of a residential student come in and before long, it was pretty clear that she didn't really have a good handle on her son's condition. It was almost as though she thought he was coming to the school to get 'cured' of his condition. So while I'm telling her that Michael's behaviors seem to have settled down a little bit, and that he seems to be getting a handle on sorting objects by color, she broke in and asked me if he's able to color inside the lines yet.
I finally had to go with brutal honesty and tell her, 'Ma'am, never mind coloring in the lines; we're still trying to keep Michael from eating the crayons.' Even this didn't seem to really change her hopeful outlook.
When you have a child with this level of disability, you do have to go through the grief stages as you mourn the 'healthy' child so you can accept the 'disabled' child (that's awkward but I can't think of a more adept way of phrasing it). Clearly, even after 15 years (at least half of which, he was living at that school), she hadn't completed the process.
Because I'd worked in the residential program for some time, I recognized that by then, I knew Michael far better than she did. Some parents knew exactly what was up and some didn't. Michael's mom may have had some minor cognitive difficulties of her own, but I didn't know her well enough to know that for sure.
One dad in particular was especially cool about how his son was doing in our program. He knew that the boy was pretty much locked into the developmental stage he'd reached, but Dad came by frequently for off-site visits and they had a lot of fun together.
When I was working on my Master's Degree, I interviewed a few of the parents for a class presentation and I got some great insights into what they went through. That's never left me."
"I taught an elective course in a large rural high school that charged a nominal fee for supplies. 'Mr. B,' a parent, did not want to pay the fee and set up an after school meeting to discuss it with me.
I had just been assigned an intern and thought it would be good for her to observe a parent/teacher conference.
Mr. B walked into my classroom and, without any introduction, asked loudly, 'You know what the problem with the world is today?'
Me: 'No sir.'
Mr. B: 'WOMEN want to live beyond their means, have gone into the workplace and become hussies.'
Me: 'Okay. Meeting over. Good bye, Mr. B.'
My intern was aghast. It was a real education for her. I ended up paying the boy's fees myself.
Later, his child confided in me that he had been beaten by his father and showed me the bruises. As required by law, I reported the incident to Child Services, who revealed me as the source.
The meeting between us in the principal’s office went like this.
Mr. B: 'That boy ain’t perfect, either. He hit his stepmother once.'
Me: 'Where do you suppose he learned that behavior, Mr. B?'
Principal then had to throw him out when he rose to strike me.
On departing, addressing me, Mr. B stated, 'I’ve heard all about you!'
I’m thinking, 'Uh oh, this could be anything.'
Mr. B: 'You’re a strong woman and always get what you want!'
The principal later said, 'That’s probably the best parent compliment you’ll ever get.'
He was in a rage when he said it, which made it all the more incredible to me. I was in disbelief, thinking, 'What did he just say?!' Obviously, what he feared and resented was strong women, having made his announcement when he entered my classroom: 'Women want to live beyond their means, have gone into the workplace and become hussies.' So he thought women should be kept in their place. When I dismissed him from my classroom and refused to entertain his rhetoric, I became one of those women—strong (feared and hated) and needing to be controlled and put in place. Then I had the nerve to report him to Child and Family Services for beating his kid. Apparently he was losing control everywhere. He beat his son for control, and actually raised his hand at me in the principal’s office. I cannot imagine living in a home with someone like that.
The son fled the state to live with his mother. He wrote me a thank you note years later.
Mr. B’s ex-wife went on to publish a book on spousal abuse. The young man was bright and gifted in my subject.I think he was 15 when this occurred. The last I heard he was doing well. I believe he got out just in time. The situation would have likely escalated as he matured and began challenging the father more. Worst, most hateful parent I ever encountered!
I was a young teacher when this happened and quite naive. I learned a great deal from that family. The son was bright, capable, engaging and smart on the outside, bruised on the inside. The whole experience made me take a harder look at the circumstances of my students. I grew from 'teaching the subject matter' to 'teaching the child' in ways that often had nothing to do with the curriculum."
"I've been pretty lucky that most parent conferences are pretty low key, but we just had a meeting the other day that made me laugh. I'm the kid's science teacher and they log everything they do in a lab notebook that I grade on a weekly basis.
Kid's a senior and has been backsliding HARD in ALL of his classes, right before the end of the semester. College acceptances and graduation are now on the line.
Mom's an enabler who has had to come to school a zillion times to pick up his phone because it gets confiscated that often (yes, we have issues with discipline at our school--no admin support or follow through, but that's another rant for another time).
Mom and Assistant Principal as well as Kid, me and two of his other teachers sit down together. We teachers each lay out our concerns and Kid starts arguing with one of my colleagues during the meeting. So when it's my turn, I decide that I'm going to let his own words do the talking: I mention that he has had a negative attitude and blames others for his mistakes and lack of effort, and read this excerpt from his notebook: 'Today, YOU took my phone away when EVERYONE ELSE was using theirs [not true, but whatever], and I don't understand why. And that's the tea, sis.'
Kid talks back and says, 'Who said I was writing about you?'
I reply, 'I'm the only other person who reads your notebook.' He shut up after that. What made me glad is that Mom got to see how he acts first hand. We'll see if he graduates or not."
"It was my first year teaching at an elementary school. Dad showed up with his son. This boy was a little shy in class and he was very bright and responsible. He had started the year below grade-level and had worked hard to get on track. The dad was smelling strongly of drink. He was weaving and slurring his words. I called the office to have someone come down. We walked them to the office and had him wait. He ended up getting sick in the trash can. I remember the look of embarrassment, anger and sadness on the son's face. I had other conferences scheduled so I couldn't stay long but the police had to be called by the administration.
The next day, the son came in and said he was sorry. I told him I was proud of him and that I was sorry his dad was sick and that I hoped he felt better soon. That seemed to cheer him up a little. I sent home the progress report and great examples of his class work. I did try to reschedule but it never happened.
The worst of it was around the holidays this student would ask if he could come home with me, or he'd mention that he wished I was his mom. I told him that his family would miss him too much and he said, 'No, they won't.' It broke my heart. He moved schools the following year."
"I was teaching a very low ability group about Romeo and Juliet, and how 'I shall bite my thumb at them' was an insulting thing to do. One of the children didn't understand what an insult was, and I, not thinking, said, 'It's when you say something mean about someone. For example, if I said your mum smelled, that would be an insult.' Unfortunately, the child really took this to heart and left the room in anger. I caught up with him, apologized, and let him know it was only an example and not me trying to be mean. He seemed to accept that.
However, the next day his dad came in, demanding a meeting with me. He was furious that I had been insulting his wife in my lessons and was out for blood. I made the same point that it was only an example and I wasn't implying his anything about his wife, and I kid you not, his response was: 'I don't care! How do you know my wife doesn't smell?!?'It took every ounce of control I had to keep a straight face, and the rest of the conversation is a vague memory. I eventually managed to pacify him, but I will never forget that meeting as long as I live."
"I received an email from our guidance counselor informing me that I would be getting coverage for next period because a parent wanted to speak with me about their child. I really didn't think twice about it; the kid was a C student, not very motivated but a genuinely sweet kid and I was prepared to give the 'great kid but needs to be more self motivated/has all the potential in the world' pep talk.
Well... I walk in to our conference room to meet mom and she looks like she is ready to mess someone up. I sit down and mom starts off by saying how she couldn't fathom a person like me being in education, she tells me that if I ever embarrass her child the way I did in front of the class again, that I will be hearing from her lawyer. She said I was a bully and needed psychological help.
So I'm sitting there, totally shocked and she turns to the guidance counselor and says that the reason why her child is failing math is because of me and that she wants them out of my class... The only problem is I don't teach math, I teach history.
When I informed the mother that she berated the wrong teacher, she felt so bad she got up and hugged me and apologized; we laughed it off together but after a minute or two, she went back to momma bear mode and told the guidance counselor to go get the teacher she needed to speak with. Bullet. Dodged.
Based on what student's told me later, the math teacher put this kid's grade book up on the board in order to show their disapproval of the latest test scores. They specifically targeted that student and gave a big speech about how none of them were motivated enough to do well in their class. I don't have kids of my own but if I did, that would be enough for me to go in to the school looking for some answers."
"I've been teaching for over 10 years and have had many parent-teacher meetings. Some were good, some were rougher. I've had meetings where I've been given death threats over cafeteria lunch balances (that I had no control over). But, one meeting REALLY sticks out to me. This is a parent meeting from when I taught Kindergarten (I teach older kids now):
I had a parent meeting with the father of one of my students. He was well known in town as the leader of a gang and was the biggest dealer in the area. I knew this and I was quite nervous since I didn't know what to expect. He came in covered in head to toe gang tattoos (many tears tattooed on his face from being in prison) and looking pretty intimidating. I kept on my 'teacher smile' and treated him as I would have treated any of my students' parents. We actually ended up having a great meeting and I was thankful he had a really good kid, so I didn't have any bad news to share!
He ended up being one of my most helpful parents and attended every school event and parent meeting we had that year. I ended up having all three of his kids throughout my years of teaching Kindergarten and he was always so respectful and even helped me change my tire one day in the parking lot when I had a flat! It was so memorable because I not only learned to not judge a book by its cover, but he also asked me to give him advice on parenting and keeping his kids on the right track (even after they had left my class) so that they didn't end up like him (his words). I think he just needed someone to listen to him and hear him out. Two of his kids are in high school now. They're in AP classes and doing amazing with plans to attend college. The youngest is in middle school and well on her way to success as well. That one parent meeting taught me a lot about people and myself as a teacher. I'll never forget it."
"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 all get out and immediately starts going on about how she is sorry for her daughter and how she doesn't do anything at home, 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 whining about her kid, the school, and whatever else. It was more like I was some sort of therapist rather 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."