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"You're always to blame for something": 4 complaints teachers cop relentlessly.

If you want to know what people really think about you, become a teacher.

Not only do you have the innocent but often brutal feedback from children - Miss, why are your teeth crooked? - you also receive feedback from parents. 

Some of it is complimentary and supportive, but a lot is quite the opposite. 


Video via Mamamia.

Every teacher knows the stomach curdling feeling of receiving a parent email time stamped at midnight, or the paralysing fear of being transferred a call and told "they sound angry".

Teachers are faced with no-win situations on the daily, and here are four complaints that are impossible to avoid.

Students getting in trouble.

Every single teacher I know would much prefer to see their students follow the school rules than deal with the consequences of them breaking them, however, in the same way students make mistakes in their schoolwork, they also make behavioural mistakes from time to time. 

There is not a teacher on this planet who has not copped criticism from parents for giving their child consequences. 

The criticism can be varied, but usually it comes down to a single belief: my child does not deserve to be punished.

I’m sorry, but if your child whacked another kid, it doesn’t matter what the other kid said to them, or that they were tired from a busy weekend or who started it, your child did not keep their hands and feet to themselves and there are consequences for that, the same way there are in the real world. 

While teachers sometimes get it wrong - we were trained as educators, not detectives - if something isn’t adding up, I’ll let you in on a secret… kids sometimes twist the truth to paint themselves in a better light. 

It’s not sinister; they’re learning to deal with complicated situations. 

If you’re a parent, it’s always a good idea to get the whole story before you start swinging your sword.

"It’s always a good idea to get the whole story." Image: Getty.

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A student of mine once wrote ‘poo’ all over his work. (Truth be told, when a six-year-old writes poo all over his work, you can’t help but be a little amused. Still, you put on your serious teacher voice and say, "that it is unacceptable and it needs to go in the bin.")

Later, I secretly fished the page from the bin, as it's always a good idea to keep receipts. 

Sure enough, his mum confronted me the following morning, and the conversation went something like this:

Mum: You’ve really upset my son. You shamed him by putting his work in the bin when he told me he had tried his very hardest. 

Me: He actually wrote ‘poo’ all over the page.

Mum: Well, he told me he didn’t write poo on purpose, he just didn’t know how to spell ‘put’ and sounded it out wrong.

Me showing her the word poo written on his page about twenty times as well as a pretty decent drawing of a poo emoji.

Mum: Um… well… yes, I can see he hasn’t done the right thing, but this task is not engaging. We need to have a conversation about you extending him better.

You’re always to blame for something!

Listen to Mamamia's podcast for parents: This Glorious Mess. Post continues below.


Homework.

Homework is often a lose-lose situation for teachers. 

The complaints teachers receive about homework is relentless and totally conflicting. Despite teachers trying to differentiate tasks to suit a range of abilities, the one activity can produce an onslaught of varied complaints, such as:

  • It was too easy

  • It was too hard

  • It took too long

  • It didn’t take enough time

  • It was too boring

I have also had parents who explicitly ban me from implementing school policy consequences for their child not completing homework, such as staying in to complete it. 

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This results in some students who haven’t done their homework getting to have a grand old time outside, while others get consequences, which then results in more complaints about students not being treated the same.

Not getting chosen.

Whether it's selection for a sporting team, to read at assembly or perform solo at the school concert, every single teacher has been on the receiving end of parents complaining about their child not being chosen.

The reality is, not all students can be chosen. It would fail to be a solo performance if 25 kids sung it all at once, and it wouldn’t be a very fun game of basketball with twenty subs on the bench. 

One particular facet of this which still gives me shivers is students applying for leadership roles. 

Everyone wants their child to be school captain or sports captain, or whatever role they apply for. 

These roles are decided upon democratically with a vote, and students often place far too much pressure on themselves to win. 

Here are some of the wild things I’ve seen parents do when their child hasn’t won:

  • Demanded to see the votes, recounted them themselves and then accused the school of faking votes when they realise their child still didn’t win.

  • Threaten to remove their child from the school if they don’t get a position.

  • Write long emails brutally listing reasons why the child who got the role does not deserve it.

  • Demand new roles be created for their child.

These days, to avoid all the drama, many schools have moved away from elected leadership positions to a rotational system where everyone gets a go. 

While there are many advantages to this system, the complaints from parents still roll in as many believe their child and their child only deserves to have a leadership position. 

"The reality is, not all students can be chosen." Image: Getty.

Creating class lists.

Forming classes is a truly hair-raising time for teachers. 

There are a huge number of factors that go into generating classes, such as balancing learning needs and individual behaviour, placing students with additional needs, as well as balancing class size and genders. The main thing parents seem to care about, however, is that their child is placed with their friends and away from their enemies.

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Before class lists are created parents will make 'requests'. They’re not really requests though - they're demands: "My child must be with child X and definitely not with child Y." 

You would be shocked by how many requests are made. 

It’s also common for child X's parents to request they must be with child Y while child Y’s parents request they are not to be placed with child X. 

This poses an impossible situation, and due to privacy or sensitive information, the school takes the hit.  

Records of past requests also have to kept, because God forbid a parent requested their child be separated from Child Z because he poked his tongue out at her in grade one only to be placed in the same class in year five. 

The other part of creating class lists is friendship lists. Most schools ask students to write a list of three to five friends they would like to be placed with in next year's class with the promise they will be guaranteed at least one.

After painstaking weeks of trying to ensure the classes are balanced and sleepless nights wondering if Child X will be happy only having two of their five requested friends, the dreaded day arrives… orientation, when students meet their new teacher and class. 

On the day of orientation, madness often ensues. 

The phones go wild, inboxes overflow and in some cases, unpleasant face-to-face confrontations take place. 

Every year teachers get at least one parent who will tell you their child has no friends in their new class and is devastated. But as mentioned, teachers keep receipts.

On more than one occasion, I've politely shown an angry parent the friendship list their child wrote and pointed out the three friends they did get placed with. 

You might think that would end the conversation, but parents have replied along the lines of, 'that's obviously not who they meant to write down and you should have asked.'

Like I said, you can't win.

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Feature Image: Getty.

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