Two Easy Ways To Deal With Difficult Parents

Image Courtesy of freedigitalphotos.Net

When my friend was first selling on Ebay, he got a complaint email. He typed back a letter that he assumed was pure sarcasm, something like “of course I will make everything right because I know you are frustrated, because something like this is such a big deal.” He meant it sarcastically, and had he said it, it would have come across in an almost mocking tone. The customer took it at face value and was very thankful and happy that my friend was willing to work with him to reach a solution. We both learned something about customer service, and people, that day.

When most people complain about something, they want two things: to have their feeling and needs acknowledged, and for you to attempt to meet that need. Generally, their frustration is coming from some type of unmet need on their part.
So here is the two-step, simple, solution to disarming a frustrated parent. These concepts come, in part, from Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication.

One: Acknowledge Their Feelings And The Needs Connected To It

If a parent is upset that their daughter got a lower grade than expected, and you get a somewhat hostile email, here is how to acknowledge the parent’s need:

– I hear that you are frustrated (acknowledging feelings) because you want your daughter to be as successful as possible (need).
– I understand you are upset (acknowledging feelings) because your daughter didn’t get her usual high grade (need)

Here you have shown that you have heard the parent’s feelings and needs. Sometimes you may have to ask their feelings and needs may be. It is easier to fish out in face-to-face conversations, but can be done in email too. From the same example:

– Are you frustrated because you want your daughter to do as well as possible?
– Are you upset because you want what is best for your daughter?

Two: Suggest a solution that is workable for both of you

People like to know that they are a part of a solution. In some areas, you may not be able to bend much, but you can always include the parent in the conversation, and offer some solutions that are within policy, even if, objectively speaking, they may not mean much. To follow up on the example above, you could respond:

– I offer extra credit that many students take advantage of. Would you be interested in hearing about that?
– Even though it is against school policy to provide extra credit, I would be glad to work with her before the next test.
– She has a chance to get three easy note grades in the next two weeks. I averaged her grade, and with those, she will have a 92% for the quarter if she completes that work. We will also have additional assignments

Below I provide an example of a longer conversation. This is a conversation with a parent who is ticked because her daughter got a second detention from you in the same month.

Parent: Ugh, You are singling out my daughter! (notice she doesn’t tell you her needs clearly)
You: Are you frustrated (emotion) because you want your daughter to be treated as fairly as possible (need)?
Parent: Yes!
You: I can see why you want her to stay out of trouble, you want to the best for her (need). I do too, which is why we enforce the rule of no cell-phones in class.
Parent: Well, yes, I understand that. It’s just that she has been getting in trouble a lot lately, and it’s well…umm…
You: Frustrating (more acknowledging emotions).
Parent: Yes!
You: Have you tried anything at home that seems to work to get her to take a break from texting? (coming up with a workable solution together)
Parent: Well, I find that if I remind her at the beginning of dinner, she won’t pull it out
Teacher: How about I try to remind the class at the beginning that they need to take a cell phone break? (solution that is workable for both)
Parent: yeah, that’s a good idea. Let me know how it works!


Why Teachers Need to Learn and Model Popularity

A scientific study suggests that popularity in high school is a good indicator of later success, as has been mentioned on our sister site The Popular Teen. Before I begin this post, I should note that even though I used an image of money for this post, this website’s philosophy is that success is much more than just money, and includes friends, family, health, faith, and so forth.

I suspect the reason for this correlation is simple, which is that if you are genuinely popular (and not “popular” because others fear you), you naturally have the thought patterns and skills that lead to success. Of course somebody that attracts people in high school is going to have the same effect later in life.

If you are popular, whether in high school or beyond, you probably:

– Are relaxed and don’t get worked up easily, versus being full of stress and drama.

– Have a sense of humor instead of getting offended by everything.

– Are a great communicator, privately and in front of a group, rather than shy and awkward.

– Are excellent at a few things, as opposed to not having any hobbies or interests.

– Empathetic instead of judgmental.

– Confident and Assertive as opposed to aggressive, passive, or passive-aggressive.

– Entertaining and charming instead of boring.

So where do you as a teacher fit in? If these traits lead to success, then it is important for you as a teacher to model them for your students. 

We learn a lot in our educational classes, but nobody has ever taught us how to be these things right? We assume that these traits are inborn and maybe even genetic. Wrong! The Popular Teacher will teach you how to think like a popular person and act like one too. At first it may be difficult, but eventually your brain will rewire and the new, popular, you will come as naturally as shyness came to the “old” you. Keep coming back to this site, and be sure to join our communities of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and even Pinterest.


What Is A Popular Teacher?

Hello everyone!

This is a website dedicated to being a popular teacher. We all know the “popular teachers,” right? Students love them, and look forward to their classes. Students may even give them presents, compliment them, and throw them birthday parties. Parents love popular teachers, because they work with parents and communicate clearly with them. Administrators love popular teachers, because popular teachers make their jobs easier. Teachers usually love popular teachers (unless they are jealous of them), because popular teachers bring the morale and “energy” of the entire building to a higher level.

Now, I know you probably have bad images of what it means to be “popular” so let me dispel these myths right now!

Some teachers are popular, but not for the right reasons. If a teacher doesn’t help students learn, has an inappropriate relationship with a student, etc, then they are not popular by our definition of the term. So, what makes teachers popular?

Popular teachers are well-liked, and therefore, effective. Students want to learn from them, and do.

Popular teachers are flexible, so they do whatever it takes to help students learn and thrive. Sometimes this may mean giving students breaks if it helps them become better students.

Popular teachers are excellent, which is to say they are good teachers.

Popular teachers are funny, which helps students and parents be at ease and learn more.

Popular teachers know how to build rapport with students, parents, and administrators.

Popular teachers are good speakers and communicators  which keeps relationships with students, parents, and other teachers on a positive level.

Stop back, contribute to the conversation, and have fun! This site is all about being the teacher you always wanted to be!