Teachers Share Their Absolute Worst Parent-Teacher Conference Stories.
Parent/teacher conferences are a great way to get parents connected with how their kids are doing in school, but sometimes the results of these meetings are...stressful, to say the least.
Below are 16 of the most ridiculous things teachers have heard parents say during a conference. Check them out.
1. Well, that clears up everything.
When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher was accused of failing a girl because she was Black. The girl herself never said anything about it, but her parents sure did. When it came time for a conference, everyone was there: the girl, her parents, the principal, a counselor, my mentor, and me.
My mentor let the parents have their say, explain their reasoning, and continue to accuse her of being racist. Once it was her turn to reply, my mentor reached into her bag and pulled out a family portrait. It was of herself, her black husband, and their biracial daughter. She just set it on the table and the girl's parents immediately stood up and left.
I haven't seen anything like it, or as hilarious, since.
2. It's not a restaurant.
I had a meeting with a student who was failing 10th grade English and her dad. He marches into my classroom and says "I don't like my student's grade. What can you do to make this right?"
Dude. This isn't a restaurant. I'm not going to comp your grade because you threw a fit. If your kid hasn't done her work or come to a single tutoring session, that's not my fault.
3. Ah, scabies.
I was teaching Grade 7 during my internship, and was speaking to the parent of a high needs student. Without going into too much detail, the girl we were speaking of had little to no long term or working memory, and limited ability to communicate needs and wants.
Anyways, her mother was complaining to us about the bus driver and told us "Anne had scabies last month and I don't think he even bothered cleaning her seat on the bus..."
My partner teacher and I just stared at each other for a second. The mother hadn't informed the school about the kid having scabies... we hadn't cleaned her desk, the couches, or anything else. And I let this kid hug me every day.
I took like 6 showers that night.
4. I mean...how?
My wife is an elementary school teacher and thought that one of her students may be autistic. Without going into much detail, the student had many classic signs of a child with autism, and as a teacher it's important to alert parents to these things so they can work with students in a way that benefits them. My wife had a conference with the mother and explained that she would like him to be evaluated, but the mother refused and said that if her son did have autism, my wife was the one who...
Who caused it.
My wife has learned to handle those situations much differently now. Being accused of causing autism will do that.
5. No thank you.
Had a conference with a parent about their child's performance. Mom kept asking me if I thought there was something wrong with her daughter (first grade). I explained that she was capable but needed to do the homework that was sent home and could use some extra practice in a few areas. She continued to ask if I thought something was wrong with her. I continued to say no. At the end of the conference she asked one more time, and added 'because if you think there is, the Dr is ready to give her meds....you just need to fill out this form'.
6. Yikes...very awkward.
When I was student teaching I sat in on conferences with my cooperating teacher. One girl showed up to the conferences dressed up nicer than I've ever seen her at school, sat up straight, and was smiling from ear to ear.
It was really awkward when the main teacher told her parents she was reading below grade level, failing math, and had not passed a spelling test this quarter. Had the confidence and presence of a valedictorian, though.
7. Oh, that's different.
I was a first year teacher and I have a very young face. When I go out with my sister (5 years younger), I get carded and she doesn't. When you look like your students, you have to do whatever you can to maintain your position of authority in the class until you get well established in the school, so I try to dress in a very formal way to set myself apart from the students.
When I went into my first parent-teacher conference, I was wearing a sweater that had a kind of fastener on the sleeves, and I had accidentally twisted it before I buttoned it. Not all that noticeable, but the mom I was conferencing with saw it. Before I could stop her, there was a rush of mothering and a "Oh here honey, let me fix that..." She had my sleeve unbuttoned and rebuttoned correctly before I could even back up. Her kid was behind her with his head in his hands (he was super embarrassed), and I looked like a little kid whose mom had to help her get dressed. Not my finest hour, but actually a pretty funny one looking back on it!
8. Wow. Irrational.
I had a parent get mad at me because I failed her student on a project. She called a meeting with me and an assistant principal. We both tried in vain to explain that the project wasn't even due yet, that her child was right on track in terms of being prepared to turn everything in on time, and that her daughter was doing just fine.
She then tried to complain that I was failing her daughter because her daughter thought I was mean and wouldn't come to morning tutorials because...
Afraid of me. I told her it was impossible for me to fail her daughter for not coming to tutorials since they are in no way tied to grades, and furthermore, her daughter was not failing my class. (She was making a low B, which is perfectly acceptable in a more rigorous pre-AP class.)
Most irrational person I ever met. She insisted on having her daughter transferred from my class.
9. Not cool, whatsoever.
I was told afterwards, he was seen setting his beer behind a bush, on the way in. He almost fell off the seat. I mentioned his 14 year old daughter and the word 'mature'. This launched him into a description of her pubescent boob progression, including a future estimation of her size. He even asked my size, so he could estimate appropriately.
Luckily the vice principal saw my flag signs and escorted him out. And yes, further action was taken.
10. Ah, it all makes sense.
I had to call in a dad of one of my high school girls after she got sassy with me, refused to do any work and was failing.
He spent the entire conference with his phone in front of his face. He took a phone call while I was talking to him and he got my name wrong several times. The girl was awful but suddenly it all made sense.
11. This is ridiculous.
My mom is a teacher and told me about her worst parent teacher conference. There was a kid who had developed major behavior problems, so she called the parents in for a conference. Only the mother showed up to the conference, which isn't all that uncommon. The mother apparently reeked of alcohol and cigarettes.
My mom sits the mother down and asks her if she was aware that the child hadn't been doing his homework, and had been to the principal's office about 4 times in the past month for harassing other students. The mother of the student goes "Yeah, I'm not too surprised by that. His dad walked out on us a while ago and they just found him in Florida." My mom, being an understanding lady, says she's sorry the father did that, and offers a list of resources: attorneys so she can sue for child support, women's shelter's, food banks, and so on.
The other mother laughed and said "Oh no, we won't need any of that. They only found his arm, the rest was fed to the gators." My mom sat there in horror as the mother elaborated: Apparently the father owed a few people some money, and had no intention of paying them back. So the people found him, and fed him to the gators. The only reason they knew the arm was his, is because his fingerprints were in the system for several domestic violence charges. She instructed my mother not to tell the student how the father died: as far as he knew, his dad died in...
An accident. Not a homicide.
The kid ended up alright in the end, he went on to graduate and get a job. To my mother's knowledge, he never found out the truth about his dad. But I really can't judge him for acting out in grade school.
12. It's not all on me!
- A parent complained to me that no one knew where her child was. Like she hadn't seen the kid in over a month. A MONTH. You are his guardian. The kid was hanging out with a gang close to the school.
13. What year is this?
- I was working in a kindergarten classroom, and a father had approached me and asked me if I let his son play in the kitchen center. I replied with something along the lines of, "yes, we allow each of the children to freely explore what interests them" and explained why, but dad was unhappy about it. He immediately asked me to stop this, as allowing his boy to pretend like he's cooking will make him 'feminine'. Awful.
-Recently I had a conference with a family regarding one of my current students who will be attending kindergarten next year. I expressed all of my concerns (and this child has many concerns... Cognitive delays, speech concerns, a few minor behaviour concerns)... And asked mom her thoughts and concerns. She had none. Absolutely none. In fact, her child is perfectly equipped to handle kindergarten next year and will not struggle one bit! Never mind the fact that he can't count higher than 3 and doesn't understand the difference between letters and numbers, despite having daily exposure for 2 years now.
14. This is a borderline horror story.
I'm a seventh and eighth grade teacher in Philadelphia. This young man's mom had gotten him identified as "gifted" - when I taught him, he was failing multiple classes, refused to do any work, slept through classes, and took no responsibility. She came in to conference (all the teachers are in the same room and parents circulate), ignored everyone except for two of us, interrupted an ongoing conference the math teacher was having to berate him for bringing down her son out of ignorance, came over to me (I'm the English teacher) and when I stood up and extended my hand, she just looked at it. She then looked me in the eye and told me:
"No. You're not even worth it." She turned around and started out of the room, cursing the staff to no one in particular. The Spanish teacher tried to talk to her and got cursed out, so the Spanish teacher called security to have her escorted out of the building. The mom then tried to use evasive maneuvers to avoid security, but was eventually caught and escoted out, told she was no longer welcome on our premises. She tried to sneak in to the next conference, but was caught.
Follow-up story: This was her middle child, her oldest had already graduated from the school (K-8), and her youngest was in 3rd grade. When the youngest was in 5th grade, they went on a trip to Canada, and she followed - against direct instruction from administration - in her own car, showed up at the place they were having dinner (where there wasn't a seat for her, so she sat at her own table and ordered something for herself). She then tried to stay at the hotel where the kids were staying, and when there wasn't an extra room, tried to go in where her kid was. When that (obviously) didn't work out to her expectations, she took her kid and drove back home that night...
So, yeah, she sucked.
15. Not good enough?
I had a mother come in on parent/teacher night with her daughter in tow (this isn't allowed but a lot of parents do it). The girl is on an IEP, but I'd never had to offer her any accommodations or modifications. She was a terrific student with a 99 average. I told her mother as such, and said I would also like to see the girl speak up more and not be afraid of her voice. She was always volunteering in class but when she spoke, she did so in a whisper. She was confident in her knowledge but not confident in letting people hear her.
The mother said "What can she improve?" I laughed but the mom looked very serious so I just said, "Honestly, nothing really. She has a 99 average. There's not much to improve on."
The mother said "I understand that, but what about everything else? How is her organization?" I replied that I didn't know of any problems with organization, seeing as she turned in all her homework on time and was obviously prepared for every test and quiz. Mom pressed me further to tell her something her daughter was doing poorly at, so I apologized for not having anything to add other than that her daughter was a model student. I gave the poor girl a wink as they left and hoped she'd find the humor in the situation.
This doesn't sound like an awful conference experience. But the following week, the girl's performance tanked. She couldn't find her homework, she was suddenly scrambling to study in the moments before the bell rang, and she started second guessing herself whenever she volunteered an answer to a question. It was like hearing her mom's assumptions that something was going poorly completely psyched her out. She would never be good enough. It sucked.
16. The 'best' for last...
A decade ago, I had an 8th grade student who was in all remedial classes. Her life's ambition at the time was to be like the girls on Jersey Shore and to have a part on a reality show. I didn't have her for any academic classes, only a less than 30 minute homeroom. One day I called her mother to try to get a form signed and returned, and I let her mother know that she had been in trouble in homeroom for some very loud, very sexually explicit talk that she wouldn't stop after being repeatedly warned.
The mother went berserk. She demanded to know exactly what her daughter had said, and I was ready with some quotes. That morning the kid had been going on and on about "a super big dildo." The mother demanded a conference immediately, so I let the team leader know, and he scheduled one.
The teachers who had the kid for academic classes were astounded. They had been trying to get the parent to come in or at least respond to anything all year, to no avail. The parent, before the conference, attempted to call me multiple times daily, leaving furious, accusatory messages about all the terrible "lies" I was telling, and that her daughter knew NOTHING about sex and had no idea what a dildo even was, and that I was a sick person.
The day of the conference arrives and the parent shows up red-faced and fairly vibrating with anger. The academic teachers start to speak to her about her child disrupting their classes, never completing assignments, etc, and she cuts them off. She announces that her child has some shocking news to disclose about me.
I was about 6 or 7 months pregnant at this time. The child lifts her head and, with tears in her eyes, says that I had traumatized her, because I said that I hated my baby and wished I could just get rid of it, and that she couldn't even look at me without wanting to cry, because of how awful I was.
It was like a crazy scripted reveal moment from one of the reality shows the girl was obsessed with. It was utterly surreal.
I cut her off. I told her that it was laughably transparent that she was trying to take the heat off of herself by making outrageous and irrelevant accusations, and that I was disgusted that her mother would fall for something so ridiculous. Then I told the parent to pipe down and listen to the academic teachers because her kid wouldn't make it out of 8th grade if something didn't change. I had the girl put into another homeroom on the spot, got my enormous self upright, and waddled out.
Whoops. That snip was just a hair too far....
Your first bad haircut probably made you want to die a little when you looked in the mirror. Imagine how the person cutting your hair must have felt. Although, maybe they didn't care at all, as evidenced by the bs excuse they gave you when you finished in the barber chair.