You can predict a lot about a parent from a kid.
And teachers often have to deal with both in a very concentrated fashion. Unfortunately teachers tend to get the brunt of the blame, always. And user u/TheLegend1125 asked Reddit to share their own horror stories:
Teachers, what was the worst parent/teacher interview you've ever had to sit through?
Here were some of the craziest horror stories.
When The Dog Bites
Pre-school teacher here. My first year as a lead teacher I had a student who bit, scratched, pulled hair, slapped and punched both students and teachers, including myself. Every day we were essentially beaten up by this 4 year old. Leading up to the conference my boss advised me to keep a log of everything this child was doing, each time he slapped or bit someone, each time he yelled out a cuss word, etc.
The entire conference was this child's mom going through my behaviour log of her child and laughing. She told me that he had never exhibited that kind of behaviour and was a perfect angel. She told me she had never even seen him angry. She laughed in our faces.
Minutes later, the child's grandmother, whom the parent and child lived with, called the school and told me all the things she knew her daughter wouldn't, which included the child giving the grandmother bruises, banging her head into her headboard, dropping books on her feet, biting, scratching, pulling, and punching both his mom and the grandmother.
I was senior management at a private school and we had some insane helicopter parents who insisted their 4 year old daughter was a genius. They wanted her fast tracked THREE grades ahead. Nobody could reason with them and they carried this big binder of 'tests' they'd paid for to prove their case. Now, she was a sweet kid but very shy and _seriously _afraid of failure. Huge red flags to be honest. They were at the point of suing us and I drew the short straw for talking them off the ledge. It was last day of the school year, my own kids were waiting for us to start the holidays (they went to the same school) and I was stuck for two hours with them, trying to persuade that them that they were damaging their child and that moving an already nervy little kid away from the few playmates she had would be catastrophic. I went through every test paper, used every tactic I could think of and eventually called the meeting to a close on an 'agree to disagree' basis - but refusing to move her higher up.
The next day, first day of the holidays, my Director got an entire transcript of the conversation which they'd secretly recorded and a demand to have me fired. They must have stayed up all night as it was before auto transcribe tech was available.
My Director called in the lawyers and I had to forward all the slanderous emails they kept sending me in case of court action. We had an internal tribunal with them when school opened after the holidays and they lost their case. We never saw them again as they moved out of the area. I often think about that little girl and hope she's doing ok. :(
Abuse Begets Abuse
I remember as a kid I went to a parent-teacher conference with my dad for my older brother. He went to a pretty bad high school in a rough area. So for one of the classes, the mother ahead of us goes with her son. Her son was this big, scary looking, gangster kid (this is the mid nineties in NYC). The teacher looks up at them and says, "I'm sorry I have no idea who he is. He's never shown up to class and cuts everyday."
The mom turns her head and looks at the son and I see him go from having this smug, nonchalant attitude to having the fear of God suddenly on his face. The mom takes an umbrella and starts beating the kid right in front of the teacher. The teacher gets immediately flustered, but has no idea what to do. The kid starts apologizing profusely to his mom and to the teacher. His mom then grabs him by the ear (she's at least a couple inches shorter than him) and drags him out of the classroom. The whole time the kid is just saying he's sorry.
I was a teacher at a private tutoring company that catered to children with Autism and dyslexia who had major problems with reading. It was expensive, like $140 an hour, and children were required to do at least 4 hours a day, 5 days a week. It comes out to like $2k a week. Anyway, I was sitting in one of the p/t conferences with some of the admins, and the conference turned from their child's progress to how they were going to pay for it. It was horrifying to hear, that these parents are planning on taking a second mortgage out on their house, that they've sold some jewelry...this damned company was driving people into the ground, financially. I quit about two weeks later.
My wife's first teaching job was at a rural high school. Most of the parents couldn't be located or contacted, so it was a miracle when they would show up for parent/teacher conferences.
One student, the oldest of 6, had not turned in any work and failed every test. It took several attempts, but his parents were finally able to come in. My wife met with them and her principal joined her as I guess this family had a history in the town.
My wife expressed her concern for the kid's future and his goals beyond school. The parents screamed at her and the principal saying they were successful with out a high school diploma and didn't believe their kid needed to be here. The only reason they were making him go was because CPS had threatened to take him away from them.
Kids Don't Always Take After Their Folks
I had a model student conference after two really tough conferences, so I was looking for a breath of fresh air and assumed his parents were as awesome as their child. I was wrong. They had decided to get a divorce right before conferences. They spent the entire conference arguing over who would have to take their child. More than once in my career I wanted to adopt a child, and this tops the list. I saw him a few years later and he was the same confident, thoughtful, intelligent kid.
I had to inform them that it wasn't in fact a parent/teacher conference.
Student asked to meet to discuss his recent exam grade. Cool. He shows up basically being dragged in by his mom, who proceeds to rant at me for a solid 5 minutes about how unfair the test must be because "her special little guy" (her words) couldn't possibly deserve a C.
He was a junior in college and I was his TA.
When she finally let me speak, I informed her that I didn't meet with parents and it was actually against regulations for me to discuss his grades with her, and asked her to leave. She hit the roof, started screaming and tearing up his exam, and was eventually escorted out by campus security.
Lets see, there are 3 that come to mind.
First, it was heavily implied I was racist (I'm black, and was teaching at an all black school), and the parent said "God would get me for my behavior"
There was the one where I basically offered almost irrefutable proof this kid cheated on a test. (It was a math test, he showed no work, had all the right answers to a different version of the test, and you couldn't even get those answers with the numbers provided). She said quote "You say he cheated, he says he didn't, I don't know who to believe"
Finally, and this was both bad and good. A mom basically was blaming me for her kids bad grades (as happens fairly often). I actually really liked the kid, he was just lazy. He jumped in the conversation and said "Mom, don't blame Mr. Illini02, you never make me do any homework at home". That pissed her off, but she couldn't really say much more.
Isn't It True That...
Parent was a lawyer and wanted to grill me as if I were on the witness stand. Based on that encounter, I'm not sure they were a very good lawyer.
Kid refused to do any work or take tests. She was failing, obviously. Said the work was too hard (it was a third year Spanish honors course for those going onto dual enrollment college course senior year).
Her father was insistent that he come in to learn the material that he would then teach his daughter. I was really thrown by that one. Took about twenty minutes to convince him that the arrangement would be unsustainable.
I used to teach senior English for ten years. It was pretty much the only class anyone had to absolutely take senior year, unless they were behind on their 3 math or science courses. The course was specifically British Literature and I tried to make it as interesting as possible for students. I tried to challenge students and prepare them for college-level work, but I also allowed students to turn in late assignments for points off (my district also unofficially required us to accept late work, as failed students=less funding.)
I posted all assignments on the class website for all students to access in the event of an absence, held tutorial once a week, updated my online grades weekly, and contacted parents when students were failing. I did all of this, because in the event a student fails, you have to provide supporting documentation that you tried to help them.
Every year, I had two or three male students (I don't know why it was usually guys) who wouldn't complete any assignments. These kids usually had overbearing mothers who would constantly harass me and find every excuse in the book to present some fault of mine to my principal as reasoning their son shouldn't be failing. These parents' usual excuse was that they "didn't know" their kid was failing, despite the access to online grades, my phone calls, letters home, etc.
On one such occasion I was called into a meeting with a mother a month prior to graduation. Her son had failed first semester and I was a bit surprised to see her, because she had been fairly nonchalant in our previous phone calls, saying things like, "If he fails, that's on him." Well, this lady pulled out the big guns for this Hail Mary meeting.
She first said I never called her and she didn't know her son was failing. I presented my documentation on our phone calls and quoted what she said, word for word. She then stated that I was too tough on students and wanted to fail her son. I reminded her that I hold weekly tutorial for students, post all assignments online AND give students time to work on assignments in class.
Then, she went on about not knowing her son failed first semester until it was "Too late," because his report card was sent to the wrong address. My principal pulled up their information and read back the address. She commented, "Yeah, that's my sister's house." My principal asked her for her current address and she gave it. He paused, then said, "Ma'am, your address is outside of our attendance zone."
Realizing the mistake she made, the lady got quiet for a moment then snapped, "(My son) will make up all of the work he owes for your class and attend every tutorial for the remainder of the year," and he did.
I work in public school education with a nonprofit organization. Sitting in a parent-teacher conference with the principal of the school, mom, and the kid. The kid is in 5th grade. The principal tells the mom point blank that her child can't read, which is true. The kid could barely write his own name and couldn't read anything except basic sight words. The mom laughed and said "my kid doesn't need to know how to read, he wears Polo."
I was speechless. I had no idea a parent could be that ignorant. I still think about that kid every few days and how hard his mom is making his life.
Kelvin Ain't Just A Temp
Was grading tests for a teacher while there was a parent/teacher conference going on (the teacher asked the parents beforehand if I could be there as the kid was three years younger than me and I didn't know him) They are talking for a bit and I start to notice the teacher pronouncing it "Kevin" and the parents are adding an "L", "kelvin", but I assume ya an accent or something. The parents start to become very dramatic, going on and on about how the teacher needed to go to the kid outside of class to make sure they were doing their homework (ugh) and such, and at the end the teacher stands up to show the parents a piece of writing from the student. Parents take it and read, look at each other and say to the teacher "this is someone named Kevin, our son is KeLvin", then proceed to get very upset with the teacher because he wasn't their child's actual teacher, when THEY were the ones who came into HIS classroom to talk about their son. It nearly made me pass out repressing my laughter before they left
F For Flirting
I was a substitute teacher then. Special needs class, so there was more meetings with parents than normally. Normally I just saw the mom, she would pick up her kid on Fridays. She was a little bit demanding and stuck up, but nothing I couldn't handle. Talked really badly about her husband when we had parent teacher meeting and when I called to tell what happened during the day (some people think these meetings/phone calls are their therapy sessions. Once she talked for 1.5 hours... I just didn't have the courage to make her stop). So her husband, child's father starts picking him up on Fridays. Okay, nothing unusual. Then he comes to the parent teacher meeting and starts asking what I do on my free time, am I seeing someone etc, just made me uncomfortable even though he didn't actually say anything rude or offensive. All this time his wife was sitting next to him!
Accidentally met him in a bar after that... He tried to buy me drinks and flirted with me. At that moment I realised he tried to flirt with me when his wife was sitting next to him in a parent teacher meeting.
B For Bad
High School teacher here ...
Had a parent teacher conference with two parents and their daughter. She had been achieving a steady "B" average in my course through her own efforts and hard work. She had long been a "classified" student, with a number of small issues that had caused her to struggle academically - until she matured and found ways of better managing her issues. I had her a a junior, and she was doing well in my challenging course - and seem proud of it. Then came the meeting. Her parents clearly had used the system as a way of providing their daughter with every academic advantage they could, bullying school staff along the way to create an academic plan that made it nearly impossible for the girl to not score a 95% or better in all her courses. I have never seen a plan so designed for academic success, with no intention whatsoever of helping the student develop the skills needed to survive in the world outside of school. I tried to make clear to them that she was doing very well in the course without the various supports in place, and that she was quite pleased with her accomplishments, but they could not care less. All they could focus on was the final grade being below their 95% expectation. We went back and forth for a while, with them presenting very angrily and with veiled threats. I did not back down, and the parents finally had her removed from my course. Luckily, my administration backed me - even complimenting on my willingness to stand against them as many had not before. The girl ended up taking the course over the summer in a far easier setting.
It was very disturbing to see parents so bent on their version of her success that they ignored the real progress she had made. They viewed the district as an enemy - an obstacle to navigate instead of an opportunity. I can only hope that the girl found her own path as she became an adult, but I can assure you that her parents hindered her growth and failed to give her the future they imagined for her.
A student claimed bias in grading. She and her father later emailed me, the principal, the board of education, and Barack Obama. Obama was president at the time, but no, he didn't reply. Thanks, Obama.
I had a parent storm out of an IEP meeting because we wouldn't agree to put an aggressive student back in to a public school setting. We also had issues with the student running out of the school building and angrily stalking around the neighborhood when the slightest thing upset him. The parent just started crying and stormed out, yelling at us that he wouldn't be able to experience prom.
We all just looked at each other in realization that our student 100% had learned this behavior from his parent.
Displays Of Unkindness
As a student teacher, I was placed in a multi-age gifted & talented classroom (fifth and sixth grades.). My mentor teacher was phenomenal, loved by all and incredible at her job.
One little girl in our class just could not keep up. She was simply not at the level of advancement that the other kids were. She was a happy, mellow kid who didn't really care, but her mother pushed her super hard and refused to believe she wasn't the height of giftedness. At the conference, I witnessed this mother berate and blame this incredible teacher, including telling her all the other parents were taking about how bad she was (lies.) It ended with my mentor teacher having tears in her eyes. This woman did it all in front of her 11-year-old daughter, who was silently miserable the whole time.
I used to teach year 4 (8-9 year olds) in London. There's a lot of immigrant families in the area I taught at and it made for a very interesting classroom. Unfortunately, due to the British curriculum, I had to teach a foreign language to my class and the school had chosen French as the language. Good for me, I speak it reasonably well and definitely well enough to teach 8 year olds how to say where they live and what they do at the weekend, not well enough to do parent-teacher meetings in French to all the Congolese parents from my class. Several of the children went home and told their parents how I spoke French. One dad in particular decided that he would only speak French to me and I had to try and tell him why his daughter wasn't doing as well as he expected in a language I don't speak fluently.
Laws should always protect the people, ALL the people!
Laws are amiable. We know this. They often change with the times, with enough revolution that is. Laws are there to protect and serve, however they can be too complex and just downright odd and often absurd.