Teachers, you are trained and steeped in working with young people. Your passion is furthering the educational journey of those who come to your classrooms every day. Alas, a very important constituency—your students’ parents—is watching your every move. They are every bit as passionate as you are about the future of their children and yet they sometimes have a very strange way of showing it. Furthermore, you are sometimes left to deal with these complex relationships by yourselves. If your experience is like mine was when I was a teacher, no one has given you communications training and conflict management skills to deal with these problem parents. My intention is to fill this gap for you. How do we deal with these difficult situations?
The first suggestion is to embrace a sense of compassionate responsibility, in which you value the relationship with your parents, share the common goal of working to further the student’s education, and, where you, in fact, have more power than the parent. The student is in your classroom every day, in your school, studying your curriculum. The parent can sometimes feel like s/he is playing catch up or is out of the loop.
By establishing compassionate responsibility, you can better anticipate problems arising, asking for feedback from your parents, and fully listening to their perspectives despite the fact that you might disagree.
Effective leaders are able to live by the golden rule of treating others as they want to be treated. As teachers, you are leaders (despite what the naysayers think). By carrying yourself and managing relationships with parents from this perspective, your parents will come to appreciate your professionalism, the open lines of communication, and your guidance in the raising of their children.