Question Detail

How to deal w/ parents who might intimidate you?

Apr 2, 2013 10:29pm

This question is designed for students of MAT 5320 (Univ. of Central Arkansas) but anyone is invited to share his or her thoughts!

How would you handle a parent who disputes your version of a situation that occurred in the classroom? Let's say you catch a student, dead to rights, cheating on a test or breaking some other school rule, but the student holds fast with a false version of the event or, worse, blames you for causing the event to happen because of incompetence or apathy on your part.

Let's complicate matters further. The student's parent happens to hold a prominent position in the community or is closely connected to you personally or professionally (politician, fellow church or synagogue member, fellow teacher).

How do you handle this situation in a positive and constructive way?

  • Other
  • Pre K-12
  • Engagement / New Teachers


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    • Apr 6, 2013 1:24pm

      Only once have I had a tense parent situation like this...the parent was very inappropriate when meeting with me and the assistant principal, wanting to blame me for all of his child's struggles.

      Fortunately, I stood my ground but did so in a calm and professional way. I continue to give all of the relevant evidence and offered my help and specific suggestions that the child could use to improve. Because I was appropriate and professional, my administration was able to back me all the way and was able to convince the parent that I was in the right.

      In summary, it is critical that teachers realize the necessity to be good role models for children (and for adults who may not know better). This is easy to do when things go well. But the challenge is to display tact and calmness in a tense, difficult situation. If you can show this kind of control, people will better respect you and be willing to listen to your position.

      • Apr 4, 2013 2:35pm

        here's a link to a really interesting blog from Teacher Laureate Sarah Wessling on working with parents!

        • Apr 11, 2013 7:31am

          Great scenerio and it is happening with increasing frequency. I think the first thing is that you have to stay calm and realize that this is not about you. Every parent wants to believe their student tells the truth all the time.

          Just keep in mind that it's not about winning or showing the student how wrong they are. It's about establishing a long-term relationship between everyone.

          I'd make sure to discuss this with the student and parent present. Let the student have a chance to tell their version of events and then calmly explain your perspective. Showing the parent that you'll listen to their student's story is important to both the kiddo and the parent.

          Look for places where you can teach the student how to avoid this in the future. And if you think you might have misinterpreted things, don't be afraid to change your mind and tell everyone how glad you are that the meeting took place. If you still believe your still have the power to grade things as you see fit.

          • Apr 4, 2013 2:46pm

            If this is in fact the case, then you need to hold fast to what you saw and what is right. There CAN NOT be any special treatment or privileges given to students based on who they know or who they are. If you go back on your word or what you saw and make an exception than the community and other students will know that you are a push over and that the rules mean nothing to you. What is right and just for one, is right and just for everyone. As far as dealing with the parents, you need to calmly explain to them the situation. Try to make them understand that you do care for their child and are only doing your job.

            • Apr 6, 2013 9:00pm

              I am a big believer in the statement “The TRUTH will PREVAIL.” Regardless of the status of the parent I will tell the truth. I would set up a conference with the principal, parent, and student to openly and professionally discuss what occurred on the day in question. Hopefully, I will have a supportive Administrative staff that recognizes my character and knows that such a claim is asinine. If the student holds to his/her story, there are no witnesses or evidence to attest to the findings, and the claim is dismissed at least there is now documentation on the matter, should the situation occur again.

              • Apr 11, 2013 1:22pm

                Children learn something from everything you do as a teacher. You are certainly not doing students any favors by teaching them that they can lie and get away with things they know are wrong. Worse than that is the message you would send a student by affording them special treatment because of who their parents are. Even if the world sometimes does work that way, a good professional knows that it should not and a teacher can convey that message to a student by standing fast and doing what he or she knows is right. Students should learn that they have to build their own integrity and that means admitting fault and not relying on other people to get you out of your responsibilities.

                • Jun 19, 2013 8:57am

                  In this situation using effective communication skills is key. Allow the parent the time and attention to express their feelings and concerns, allow a two way discussion, and communicate effectively in a way that makes both parties feel that their feeling where understood and a compromise was made. When a student is caught doing something wrong, most of the time they will not say you are right I am sorry. When a parent is involved, that is their child and they will defend them. However, you are in charge of ensuring that a child educational growth is being met and that can not happen if cheating occurs or rules are broken. Calmly discuss the even and have proper documentation. If at all possible have the student write down what happened as soon as the event occurs. This will help if and variation of the even occurs.

                  • Apr 9, 2013 8:46pm

                    Conflict is never comfortable especially when your actions as a teacher are questioned or found to be incompetent however regardless of the situation, as educators we need to stand our ground when it comes to keeping our classrooms fair and ethical. If I found myself in a situation like mentioned above, I would first address the issue with the student and then follow my classroom ethics policy – calling the parent/guardian. In situations that tend to get emotional, stick with the facts. No one can argue with data. If I had concerns about communication and/or reaction of the parents or if the parents had ties to the school, community and/or me, I would contact my administrator and ask that they accompany me during the phone call and any other future contact needed concerning the behavior of the student.

                    • Jun 18, 2013 8:42pm

                      I think the most important part is just staying calm and having patience in the situation. I would tell the parents your side of the story and then if they have conflicts with it I would meet with them in person to discuss. If they still can't come to terms I would bring in the student to the meeting. Every parent thinks their child is the perfect child and doesn't like to think they could do anything wrong. I think bringing in the student on the conversation will bring out the truth. As far as the relationship with the parent and being party of the community, even though this is great and well it should not affect a teacher's decision to do their job. The situation should just be handled carefully and with respect to both the student and parents. I think sometimes bringing in an outside party such as a principal or vice principal would help too.

                      • Jun 21, 2013 1:11am

                        It is very important to make sure you stick to the facts and the truth. I would ask to have a meeting with the parents, child, and an administrator. I think once the student is asked to tell the story again in a meeting they may change their mind to the truth. However, I would be calm and professional. The child will be able to tell his version of the events. This will show the parent that we are listening to them, but then I would also tell my perspective if need be. I would also let the parent know that they do an amazing job. I think it is good to put a positive spin on a negative situation. By asking the parent if there is anything that you can do to help the child succeed such as tutoring is a great way to let them know you care.

                        • Jun 21, 2013 7:58pm

                          The best way to handle this situation is by removing your emotions. I understand the difficulty in trying to remain calm in situation where your integrity is being challenged. There are many ways to approach this situation; however, doing what is right will always be best. One should respect the parent’s position, but not let it clout the overall objective. A person’s status should not void the underlining issues. A situation like this would need to be mediated and resolved immediately. I feel that all parties will need to come together and rationally discuss the disagreement in details in order to locate the truth. It is expected for a parent to defend their child while the teacher’s responsibility is to present their best professional manner. When situations such as this derive, the teacher must stand strong and focus on what is right. I am expecting that all adults in the situations will be able to seek the truth together illustrating to the child how to handle tense issues in a sensible manner.

                          • Apr 3, 2013 8:59am

                            I agree with everything Katie said. Also making it clear that you are looking out for their child's best interest is very important. Teachers are not out there looking to get kids in trouble. We honestly care about our students and who they are going to become and want to do everything we can do guide them to becoming successful adults, which will include having consequences when they have done something wrong.

                            • Apr 6, 2013 10:41am

                              If this situation happens to me when I am a teacher, I will definitely remind myself to stay calm and to not let any frustration show. I think a lot of parents may try to provoke me to get their way. Remaining calm and collective in this situation is critical. I also think showing appreciation to the parent and starting out on a positive note will help. For instance, thank them for coming and stay positive. Then maybe ask them what their child has said and inform them politely about what actually happened. If they continue to argue with me, I will move on from the actual scenario and ask them what we can do together to ensure this does not happen again. I make sure to end the meeting on a positive note so that no one is upset, bothered, or angry about the situation. I would then follow up with an email in the days to come. I also think keeping parents involved throughout the year and communicating openly with them about their child’s progress will help cut down on parental intimidation.

                              • Apr 6, 2013 8:22pm

                                I would set up a conference with the parent to discuss the situation at hand. I would have already built a positive relationship with both the parent and student before the incident occurred. I would explain to the parent what was observed in the classroom and ask the parent if the child felt any pressure to do well on the test. I would then explain that some children are under more pressure to do well in school because they do not want to disappoint themselves or their parents. I would then ask the child to come in. I would once again explain what was observed and we would discuss different ways to lessen the temptations of cheating. I would reassure the student that they are learning and that some things may not come as easy to them. I would tell the student that I am here to help them academically any way that I can.

                                • Apr 7, 2013 8:09pm

                                  I try to talk to the parent in private and with a calm voice and attitude. I listen to what the parents have to say completely and do not interrupt them. After I listen to the parent I will tell the parent exactly what happen and show them any documentation I have to help the parent see the truth. I will be understanding and let them know I value their opinions but that school rules and policies have to be followed in this situation. If the parents refuse to follow the school rules and policies regarding the matter I will set up a conference time for us to meet with the principal on a time that is good for the parents.

                                  • Apr 8, 2013 6:59pm

                                    If this situation was to ever occur, I would immediately contact the parents to set up a meeting. When I meet with them in person I will be sure to stay calm and collected. I will first let the parents express their concerns, and then I will explain to them what I witnessed. I will also present them with any proof I may have (cheat sheet). I will already have established a positive relationship with the parents so hopefully they will trust me. I will also provide the parents and the student with options to assist them with their school work. My number one goal is to make the parents feel like I am there to help their child achieve academic success.

                                    • Apr 9, 2013 3:51pm

                                      Plagarism/ cheating is always a huge issue no matter the grade, but it is especially important to deal with in the secondary grades because of the implications it has on students' futures in college or careers. I agree that the very first thing that should happen is that the teacher should acknowledge that he or she cares deeply about the student and their success. Following that, it is important to stand firm that what the teacher saw is truly what happened. It does not matter the position of the person, nor whether or not the parent and teacher have a relationship outside of school. If the parent is extremely upset, cursing or being obscene, I think it is important to involve an administrator or tell the parent you will be happy to speak with them once they have calmed down. The root of the matter needs to be the student and his or her learning. If the student has truly been caught cheeting, he or she needs to be met with consequences. Emotional objectivity is also important.

                                      • Apr 9, 2013 8:47pm

                                        Conflict is never comfortable especially when your actions as a teacher are questioned or found to be incompetent however regardless of the situation, as educators we need to stand our ground when it comes to keeping our classrooms fair and ethical. If I found myself in a situation like mentioned above, I would first address the issue with the student and then follow my classroom ethics policy – calling the parent/guardian. In situations that tend to get emotional, stick with the facts. No one can argue with data. If I had concerns about communication and/or reaction of the parents or if the parents had ties to the school, community and/or me, I would contact my administrator and ask that they accompany me during the phone call and any other future contact needed concerning the behavior of the student.

                                        • Apr 9, 2013 9:06pm

                                          No matter how difficult it may be for a teacher to respond like this, I feel that it is a must in this situation: stick with the truth. You know that what you saw really happened, and you know that the student was in the wrong. The facts are in your corner, and you know that your stance is in the right. That being said, while you shouldn't give in and side with the parents, you should also keep a calm voice when defending yourself. While it may be tough to put yourself on the opposite side of a person in power or someone close to you, I believe that ultimately, when all is said and done with the situation, you will know that you did the right thing by sticking to the truth, not to mention that I think that if and when the parents find out the truth about their child cheating, they will have more respect for you standing by the truth than giving in to please them. You should always stand firm with what you believe to be the truth.

                                          • Apr 11, 2013 10:39am

                                            In this case I have to agree with some of the other post in that you have to stand your ground regardless of the pressure. If you don't stand up for your principles and ethics then your spineless and the student runs the class now not you. I agree that you must in this line of work have diplomacy and tact; however, you cant focus on that so much that you loose site of the issue at hand. You caught Jimmy cheating on a test and he must fall under the same rules as anyone else.

                                            I have had to do this twice this year alone, once with a regular student and once with a star ball player. They both got caught being super disrespectful and I punished them both them same. If you are firm and fair then your doing it right.

                                            • Apr 11, 2013 9:31pm

                                              The situation is very tricking. I think the point for a teacher is to be respectful and calm. Secondly, the teacher needs to give complements about the student before discussing the situation. The teacher needs to honorably explain the situation. If you genuinely ask the parent to meet you with the student and discuss the matter you would grateful. During this time you need to tell the parents their child’s strengths before stating the situation. Moreover during the discussion stay calm do not get angry or upset if the parents becomes rude or more.

                                              • Apr 12, 2013 11:31am

                                                This is an excellent question because, as teachers, we will deal with this situation or a similar situation at some point or another in our career. When communicating with a parent about this particular situation I would go into the conversation very calmly. I would immediately let the parent know that I appreciate their concern for their child. I would also let them know I respect them as a parent and I respect their position in the community. I would explain to the parent exactly what I saw and what I did in response to the situation. What I would not do is show favoritism. I would stick to what is right and honest. I would explain to the parent the policy about cheating and the consequences for cheating. No matter what threats or temper the parent threw at me, I would stick to my guns. I know that if I'm honest, I can sleep at night. Although the student and parent may not like me, I do not believe I would be reprimanded by the school for being honest and sticking to my classroom rules and procedures.

                                                • Apr 12, 2013 1:41pm

                                                  My strategy in this situation would be to calmly address the issue but asking that the parent(s), student, principal and myself meet to address the issue. In this type of situation, I would always request an administrator be in the mix so that, if the parents decided to really turn this into an attack, I have someone who will back up my behavior and actions in the situation. I would also stand my ground, regardless of the parent's status in the community. I would also acknowledge the good behavior I've seen in the student, and that disciplining bad behavior or cheating is not for my own vindication, but to teach the student not to engage in this behavior in the future. I will be teaching (hopefully) high school students, and I would explain that cheating or plagiarism (whatever happened) is something a student could be expelled for in college, or be fired from in a job. I would also keep whatever evidence of the cheating that I could.

                                                  • Apr 12, 2013 8:25pm

                                                    It is important to have solid policies and procedures in place for when these situations occur. In this case, I would address the issue with the student first in a calm manner and refer back to the policy on cheating. When speaking with the student I will start with a positive note about their previous effort in class and end giving them verbal support with future opportunities to improve their grade. In addition to speaking with the student, I will also call the parent as a part of the classroom policy. I would speak with the parent similarly to the way I speak with the student and address any concerns the parent might have. If the parent is still upset, I would then set up a conference with the principal present to discuss further options.

                                                    • Apr 12, 2013 9:26pm

                                                      Unfortunately, conflict between students, teachers, and parents in inevitable. As a teacher, you are to be and act like a professional. If the student was cheating, then you have to stick to your duty to tell the parents no matter the kind of relationship you may have with them. There can be no special treatment for the student just because you know the parents personally or they are an important member of the community. If the student knows that you would never say anything, then what would the student be learning from this. It's better to take the chance and at the same time you may be helping the student. They know that they have the same responsibility as all of the other students whose parents you do not know. Of course, the outcome could sway either direction, but if the parents really care about their students and know you so well, the should not try to cause any intimidation. The parents and teacher should discuss the issue with the student and try to work together towards a common solution.

                                                      • Apr 13, 2013 2:30pm

                                                        Firstly, collect yourself. Take stock of the entire situation, and write it down. Analyze the situation from the student's perspective free from emotions. Vent with your significant other, and be CLEAR that it's is just a venting session, not a pity party. Ask for advice from your colleagues. Be honest always, try not to spin the altercation in your favor. I think extending an invitation to correspond over email would be a good start, that way there is a record of your interaction. How this pans out will be based in part on your rapport both with the students, and parents. Regardless, make your intentions clear: to continue helping the student. Request to hold a meeting with the principal, the parent, and student. Never play the victim, seek solutions, and remain calm. A happy ending may not be possible; the best one can do is to maintain your integrity and honesty.

                                                        • Apr 14, 2013 4:28pm

                                                          I am sure this situation happens in classrooms all around the world and is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching. The first thing I would do would be to come from a place of understanding for the parent becuse working the in customer service field, I realize that when people are upset they want to know their complaints are heard and they want to feel validated. That being said, I would empathize with the parent saying something to the effect of " I understand that as parents we all want the best for our children and want to ensure that they receive the best care while at school' etc. I would then inform the parent that I am there for the betterment of the child that I also care for the child so I would never do anything that would be detrimental to the child. I would suggest that we set up a meeting where the child is involved so that we are all in one setting together and nothing can be misconstrued with the hope that the child will tell the truth.

                                                          • Apr 15, 2013 12:11am

                                                            When dealing with a parent who disputes you in the classroom the best thing to do is to stay calm. Stick to the true details. Offer empathy to the student and the parent for the situation but in the end you need to stand your ground in a firm yet gentle way. It gets very tricky if the parent is a prominent person in the community or school (superintendents relative for example) however, if the student was cheating or fighting there must be consequences. It is not fair for a student to get away with something just because their dad is a lawyer or a principal.

                                                            In the end, you may want to involve your principal to help mediate the situation. If your principal handles the situation in a way you disagree with, you have to accept that you did all that you can do. You can only control your response. You cannot control other people. If the student was cheating, next time have the student sit by himself to prevent further cheating. Find out ways to prevent the problem from occurring again.

                                                            • Jun 14, 2013 10:53pm

                                                              This scenario can be very frustrating, but is very likely situation. It can be very awkward for the teacher to have to call a parent they know outside of their school relationship. Even though, the child who cheated parents are prominent in the community, the issue should not be overlooked due to the parent's status, wrong is wrong. The teacher should not accuse the parent of their child cheating. This will only put the parent on defense. The teacher should suggest meeting with the student and their parents face-to-face. The teacher should explain the situation. Then, give the student a chance to explain. Majority of the time the truth will come out under the pressure. The teacher should handle both the student and the parents with the upmost respect throughout the entire conference, not matter what issues arise. The teacher should make sure to end the conference on a positive note with both the student and their parents.

                                                              • Jun 18, 2013 12:50pm

                                                                If this situation occurred, I would first stay calm and collective. In order to handle the situation in a positive and constructive way, contacting the parent would be my first order of business. I would want to meet the parent face-to-face; over the phone conversations would be difficult. Face-to-face, I would explain what happened. If the parent was close to me, I would try to handle it professionally, not personally. Even if the parent held a prominent position, their child is no different from other children. If the parent gives me the child’s version, I would simply explain what I observed. If things are not resolved from there, I would invite an administrator to be present for the next meeting as well as the child himself/herself. Like many said, when a child is brought in to tell the tale, the truth usually comes out. Cheating is a serious offense and should have consequences. If I saw a student cheat, that is the truth. There is no other reason for me to lie, which the parent should understand.

                                                                • Jun 20, 2013 12:37am

                                                                  It is very important to retain your professional integrity both in keeping to the truth of the matter and maintaining your composure. Regardless of who the student's parents are in the community, every child must be treated fairly. It's important for the issue to be resolved in a positive manner and in a way that is hopefully going to benefit the child in the long run with a life-lesson. I know it is not an absolute given that the child will learn from the experience, but we can always hope, right?
                                                                  The comments about being sure you already had positive communication in place with the parents are absolutely correct. Hopefully, even if the parents are well-known or prominent figures in the community, hopefully they will agree with this aspect of the situation. I agree, also, that parents often do feel their children are innocent or do no wrong. Involving a third party in such meetings is a stellar idea, and one I intend to use in such situations.

                                                                  • Jun 20, 2013 1:23pm

                                                                    I would provide in depth details of how the student was caught cheating and if any witnesses were available I would have them fill out an anonymous statement. Tell the parents that you understand their frustration, but no special treatment will be given to their child. If the parents intimidate you to the point that you feel uncomfortable or threatened an any way, tell them that the discussion will have to be continued with the presence of the principal or superintendent.

                                                                    • Jun 20, 2013 2:18pm

                                                                      First and foremost, written, detailed documentation is SO important in a situation like this. Remaining calm, stating the facts, reducing emotion as much as possible and focusing on the situation instead of the people involved are important also. If you have established a good relationship with the people involved, the magnitude of this situation could have been decreased. You cannot give a child special treatment or let them off the hook just because their parents hold a prominent position. This is called politics and it has no place in the classroom. It is also important to respect the privacy of the child and parent and don't discuss the situation with anyone unless it is required by school policy. Remember that parents can become defensive if they are approached abruptly or rudely so plan for a positive, gentle approach. Make sure the parents know you care about their child and want what is best for them.

                                                                      • Jun 20, 2013 3:08pm

                                                                        First of all I think that have a good documentation system will help prevent a lot of complicated situations. I also think that having a good teacher-parent relationship established will help in situations like this. I would strive for professionalism, and fairness no matter what the student’s parents do for a living. I would try to talk with the student first, and resolve the situation. I would then follow-up with the parents, explaining what took place and the consequence. If I felt intimidated by the parents I would request a meeting with the parents, student, and principal, to try to work through a solution, after listening to all versions of events. Whatever the outcome of the meeting at least we have a channel of good documentation for future reference if needed

                                                                        • Jun 21, 2013 7:45am

                                                                          If any situation like this occurred, I would setup a meeting with myself, the student involved, their parent and a third-party administrator first and foremost. Because of the potential for the conversation to go quickly into a he-said, she-said argument, I would not even put myself into a situation that can go combative. I would reach out to the parent, let them know what happened and that a meeting will be held to discuss matters further. I hope to have already established a strong rapport with the students and parents, hopefully conversations would not become too heated. If this was a first time occurrence, I would want the meeting to go more in a “why did the student feel the need to cheat?" conversation. Most importantly, I want the student and parent to walk out of that meeting knowing that I called them in to figure the issue out and create a resolution, not just to persecute them.

                                                                          • Jun 21, 2013 9:17pm

                                                                            It's important as a teacher dealing with an influential parent to remain calm. Keep the student as the main focus in the conversation and avoid being aggressive. Stand your ground at all times, and in this specific incident I would recommend getting with a member of the administration to help things run more smoothly. I think it's also important to bring the student along with the parent and see if the story changes. Often when pressured by parents, admin, and the teacher stories may crumble. This could blow up in the teachers face but it is good to keep your options open.

                                                                            • Jun 22, 2013 1:44pm

                                                                              Students often find themselves in a similar situation. A student may get in trouble for fighting when they were just trying to block a bullies punch. A principal may suspend both students rather than believe the innocent student's story. Such discipline can cause them to lose some credibility with teachers, the administration, and parents. It might earn them a grounding when they get home. This scenario makes me think more deeply about the struggles of many students.
                                                                              For teachers in this kind of situation, it is important to maintain good relationships with their administration. Also, they should never be alone with a student and should keep every disciplinary action well documented. They should also keep the discussion of the incident to parents, the student, the administration and themselves. Gossip travels and makes things worse. Also, always speak highly of every party. Remember that losing a battle does not mean that you lose the war and that truth often comes out in time.

                                                                              • Jun 22, 2013 3:36pm

                                                                                A couple of points to set parameters. There is only so much you can do, if a persons' mind is already made up the best you might be able to do is to leave things on a positive note. There's no sense in beating a dead horse, if the issue is discussed thoroughly and everyone remains at an impasse, continued debate will probably lead to frustration on someones part. Can a calm discussion be had? If so have one. Will the student be involved in the discussion? I'm not sure but I think probably not, but if he is he should have an opportunity to present his case.
                                                                                The only thing I may be able to demonstrate is my reasonableness and reaffirm to the parents that I have no hidden agenda against any of my students.

                                                                                • Jun 23, 2013 12:55pm

                                                                                  I believe that the key in this situation is to remain calm and unemotional, to present yourself in a professional manner. I would set up a meeting with the parent, possibly with a third party that isn't involved such as school administration or maybe even a guidance counselor, I think this is especially important if you have have a connection with this parent outside of the school. You have to make the parents feel heard, if they do not feel validated then they are more likely to put their guard up and become defensive, if this happens then they are unlikely to hear anything you are saying. You cannot go into this meeting with the mindset that it is you against the parent, or that you are out to “win”, either parties becoming defensive is a lose-lose situation. You have to make sure the parent knows that you want what is best for their child, present a united front, and never make them feel that you are out to get their child.

                                                                                  • Jun 23, 2013 7:42pm

                                                                                    This is a typical Star Trek kobayasi Maru test, the no win situation, you must remain calm and professional. You must consider this another teaching/learning opportunity for all parties involved and you must accept that the best result may be everybody calmly disagrees about what happened. I would prefer to have a face to face meeting with the student, parents, principal and myself where everyone can present the facts as they see them. I would hope the truth would be revealed, but at least everyone would have the opportunity to share their side.

                                                                                    • Jun 23, 2013 9:50pm

                                                                                      In order to effectively communicate to a parent that their child was at fault for a rule being broken one must be professional in every way. Especially if said parent was a prominent member of the community. The professionalism necessary to communicate such an instance would include documentation, witnesses (if possible), evidence (if possible), and a distance from irrational emotions toward the persons (parent and student) involved. An educator is at all times an advocate for their students. Revealing this sort of instance must be done with sincerity and compassion for the well being of the student's education. Furthermore, always include a third party when you feel uncomfortable in such a situation.

                                                                                      • Jun 23, 2013 10:51pm

                                                                                        In this situation, I would try to explain what I had witnessed in as much detail as possible, including what topics the exam was covering, how I was able to tell the student was cheating, and how I addressed the situation in the moment. I may offer evidence of inconsistencies in the student's previous performance with the performance on the exam in question. I would also tell the parent and the student that if the student is not confident that he is able to pass the test on his own I would be happy to offer extra help. I would also be sure to emphasize that I believe in the student's ability to achieve success on his own and cite examples of his positive contributions to the class and evidence of past successes in the class. The most important thing to remember in all such exchanges is to always be professional and show respect to the parent and the student, and to focus on solutions to the problem rather than accusations of wrongdoing.

                                                                                        • Jun 24, 2013 9:27am

                                                                                          This is a difficult situation. I would of course first ask the parent to have a one-on-one conference to talk about the incident in detail. They could present their version of events, and I would present mine. If they cannot be convinced that I’m telling the truth, then I would invite an administrator, such as the principal or superintendent, to join us, and the student who is lying, in a further discussion. Hopefully, when confronted by three adults at once, one of whom is impartial but important, the student will back down and tell the truth. If not, the administrator can help us determine what must be done. I am very non-confrontational, and would not want to ruin a good working relationship with the child’s parent with this sort of situation. However, I would stick to my guns on this one.

                                                                                          • Jun 24, 2013 12:04pm

                                                                                            I agree with what Mrs. Novak was saying. It's always a good idea to lessen the tension by starting things off with a compliment to the parent and to the student. It's important that they understand that you are not out to get them, but that you are on their side and you are trying to help them. In a situation like this, there is the possibility that the conversation can go many different ways. You just have to stay focused on the goal of helping the student and under no circumstances give in and make this one student an exception. There are always going to be parents are going to try and protect their children. You have to understand that going into any discussion about a student's mishap if you want to make any serious ground.

                                                                                            • Jun 24, 2013 12:36pm

                                                                                              I tend to have this issue about once a school year. I know that parents want to protect their children, but they also know that their child probably broke the rules but do not want to admit it to you. They do this not only because they do not want people to look their child negatively, but also to look at them as a poor parent.

                                                                                              I will never let things go or treat a child differently because of "who they are" or "who their family is". The parents usually come around OR their child finally tells the truth. Working with preschool I am pretty lucky because children can not seem to keep a lie for long.

                                                                                              • Jun 24, 2013 2:00pm

                                                                                                I agree with Jayme, there should NO special treatment for students with parents in important positions. All students should be held to the same expectations no matter who their parents are. I believe that you should keep your cool and hold to what you saw. If matters escalade, you should go to your administrator.

                                                                                                • Jun 24, 2013 5:23pm

                                                                                                  I can build a relationship with them before a difficult situation arises. As a teacher, it is essential for a number of reasons to build relationships with the parents of your students. I will personally go out of my way to talk with those parents who have had a history of being difficult. My goal is always to be friendly and personable and to show them that I genuinely have the best interest of all my students in each of my decisions. I will make it necessary to have an open mind and to listen to what the parents say. A lot of times when a parent comes to a teacher with a concern, they are frustrated, and they need someone to listen to them. I will listen to what they have to say and then respond in as diplomatic a manner and give them the best explanation that I can and be as honest as can with them. I will try to prove to them that I will take everything they have to say into consideration.

                                                                                                  • Jun 24, 2013 8:24pm

                                                                                                    Although a parent might intimidate you, I would have to treat that specific parent the same as every other parent. If I treated this parent or their child any differently it would be making an exception and treating others unfairly. That is not the example I would want to set for my classroom students. After the initial conference if I were still intimidated by a parent I would want to get administration involved. I would ask the principal, vice principal or counselor to sit in with me on my conferences with that specific parent. No matter what if the teacher remains calm and keeps the child’s best interest at heart the situation will sort itself out.

                                                                                                    • Jul 18, 2013 11:24pm

                                                                                                      I have actually seen something exactly identical to this scenario happen to one of my teaching friends. The child went home and told their parent their side of the story (of course with drama for effect). The parent (who was very well known in the community and was close friends with an administrator at the school) then confronted the teacher about the problem. Once two very different sides to one story were on the table the parent hung tight to the words of their child. Parents often have unrealistic views of their child and this is something we have to always remember as teachers. Anyway, the teacher stuck to her story and therefore the consequences that were laid out for that student. As a result, the parent went to the administrator and expressed concern about the issue. The administrator then brought in the student to question and suddenly, the students story had changed! Perhaps the student became aware of the significance of their "fib". The bottom line is, you cannot allow special privledges for parents and students based on who they are or what they do. What's right is right and it is our job to always do the right thing and do it with integrity! The truth always surfaces!

                                                                                                      • Jul 21, 2013 7:07pm

                                                                                                        This is hard because I am sure there are many parents who are going to be intimidating, especially your first year. If a parent claims they know more than you then you need to do your research and be prepared! Stay calm with the parent and if things get out of hand then that would be a time that discussing the issue with the principal might be necessary. However, before it gets to that a teacher needs to just take a deep breath and realize that the parent is just trying to protect their own child. The teacher also needs to realize that you as the teacher and the parent have the same goal in mind -- do what is best for the student. I think that an intimidating parent can be intimidating but as long as you're prepared then you can just the best you can!

                                                                                                        • Jul 23, 2013 10:09am

                                                                                                          One of the most important things a teacher can do is document. When something occurs we need to be sure to document exactly what went on as soon as it happens. If the student is caught cheating and denies it we need to document exactly how he/she cheated. Also, there will probably be a past event that may support your side of the story. This is why it is important to document and be prepared.

                                                                                                          If the parent is a significant figure in the community, it is very important to keep respect for that person (even if they lose it for you). I would always have an administrator present during meetings such as this. It may also be a good idea to bring the student in, because when the student is surrounded by so many people over them, the student may crack and tell the truth.

                                                                                                          In conclusion, stay calm, document, prepare, and keep respect for the student and parent.

                                                                                                          • Jul 23, 2013 3:02pm

                                                                                                            I think in a situation like this, the main thing to remember is to stay CALM. The parent is most likely just speaking out of frustration. If you get upset or angry, it makes you look unprofessional, which will only make you look bad. I would remind the parent that you are both on the same side, and that you have their child's best interest at heart. If they begin an argument, do not engage! I would tell the parent that we should have a meeting to discuss the problem at a time that is convenient for them, with an administrator present. I do not think you should let the issue slide, even if you know the parent well. It is your job to follow the rules and be fair to all students. Teachers must model correct behavior. Giving one student special treatment teaches students at an early age that they can get away with things if they know the right people, instead of taking responsibility for their own actions.

                                                                                                            • Jul 23, 2013 10:47pm

                                                                                                              I would handle this situation very carefully. The first thing I would do is talk to my principal. They are there to help with situations and they need to know about it before it escalates. Next, I would talk to the parent calmly with the child present without accusing their child and being on the offensive. I would calmly explain what I saw/ what proof I have. Most parents are less defensive when you offer proof and are not accusing their child. I would discuss what happened and acknowledge any part I had in the event- it still doesn’t excuse the student’s choice to cheat or break the rules. If things do get heated I would suggest talking to the principal (they are already aware of the situation and ready to help). The worst thing to do is talk about the student to other teachers or other people in the community!

                                                                                                              • Jul 24, 2013 4:25pm

                                                                                                                It is very important to remain calm and professional when talking with the parent. If they see you get upset then they know they have the upper hand and have they now have a way of upsetting you even more. It is important to document the event and to keep the principal informed of the situation. Tell the principal first so they are in the know and aren't blindsided if and when the parent calls. Special treatment shouldn't be given to students regardless of their parent's stature. Everyone should be treated equally and fairly. Overall, both parties want the best for the student and its important to keep that in mind. What is best for the student? The teacher should not back down from their story, but remain assertive in the situation. It demonstrates a lack of confidence and promotes insecurity if the teacher allows themselves to be intimidated. Its your classroom and you are in charge! More than likely, once the parent and child sees that the teacher is confident and certain the truth will come out. Overall, the teacher needs to remain calm, document, communicate with their principal, do not give special treatment, and stand firm against their ground.

                                                                                                                • Jul 24, 2013 5:05pm

                                                                                                                  Conflict will definitely occur at some point in everyone's teaching career. The best way to make sure situations are handled properly would be to notify an administrator and parents and also make sure we have all necessary documentation. We need to make sure we have concrete proof, such as a cheat sheet. Another thing that is important to do in this situation would be to stay calm. If the teacher begins to get upset, the parents and child may feel threatened and become defensive. Teachers should stay calm and keep their composure to help resolve the issue. To make sure the issue is resolved the appropriate way, the teacher should keep accurate documentation of all incidents. We should also make sure we treat all parents and students the same, no matter what position a parent might hold in the community.

                                                                                                                  • Jul 24, 2013 10:41pm

                                                                                                                    To start it is important to establish a positive relationship with the parent and student through initial positive interactions. If I know that the parent is tough, I would document the student’s behavior then setup a meeting with the parent, student, and administrator present. When a situation like this occurs I would stay calm and be assertive rather than aggressive, explaining the situation. I would also give the student a chance to explain the situation while everyone is present. This could lead to the student telling the truth. Your confidence and interest in the student’s education can also play a role in an intimidating situation. Since parents are concerned about protecting their child, seeing the teacher just as invested can cause the parent to have a change of heart.

                                                                                                                    • Jul 25, 2013 3:26pm

                                                                                                                      I think that it will be key to develop trust and respect with your parents. I think that these situations will occur, but if the parent knows from the beginning that you have their child best interest at hand they may be more likely to hear what you have to say. If the parent seems to not waver, it will be key to keep your composure and show them and their child respect. If i was to find myself in an intimidating situation with a parent, i would be sure to provide evidence of their child's work or behavior. I plan to keep a log of bad behavior and i plan to write notes on the students work whenever there is an error. Having evidence is the best way to support your argument. I also think that i would first approach the meeting with the parent in a positive way with some of their positive behaviors or good work. By doing this, the parent would feel like you aren't just attacking their child and would be more open to listening to the negative points you have.

                                                                                                                      • Jul 25, 2013 7:44pm

                                                                                                                        I think this is why it's so important to establish good relationships with parents from the beginning. I also believe that teachers should send parents the same rules and procedures they expect their students to abide by so that we are all on the same page. I've seen this type of situation happen to a co-worker, and it was very difficult. The student always misbehaved and thought that since his mother was a teacher at another local school in that district that he could get away with anything. I think that it would be best to have a meeting with the parent and the child to talk about what happened. I think that once both stories are out in the open that the truth will come out. I think that together, a conclusion could be reached to fix the problem. But I also think it's important for the teacher to let the parent know that they have the child's best interest in mind and to also state some positive facts before going into the negative. If it's a continuing problem, then an administrator needs to be present. Unfortunately, teachers can't catch everything and students get away with lying, but we need to do our best to communicate with the parents about what's going on in class. If this student has been having problems for awhile and the teacher waited so long to contact the parent, I could see how problems could really arise behalf of the teacher. That's why I think effective communication from the beginning is essential.

                                                                                                                        • Jul 25, 2013 10:39pm

                                                                                                                          As a new teacher, I have come to understand (believe?) that these situations will arise. I believe my best way to confront this issue will be to first remain calm. Secondly, I will state something positive about their child hoping to diminish some defensiveness. As a parent, I need to relate to them and let them know that I understand loving and protecting your child. I also think it's important to hear and let the the parents know you understand their side of the story. However, I will have documented precisely the events that occurred and stating any witnesses. I also think it's important to bring in the student and sit down with them all and discuss what happened. I will let the student know that I know he's a good kid (since in this scenario, I know he and his family outside of school). But, I will also let him know that I want the best for him and my intentions are not to get him in trouble, but to help him succeed. In some instances, it may be helpful to have a third part involved such as an administrator to help back you up.

                                                                                                                          • Jul 26, 2013 11:06am

                                                                                                                            As with any parent, I would start the interaction with the notion of being a team with the parent and expressing concern for the student. I would have everything documented, written down on paper. It will be important to remember to do this every time something questionable happens so you will be prepared. I would complement the student in an appropriate way and remind the parent that I only have the student’s best interest at heart (e.g. Charlie is an amazing student and has made tremendous progress, I know we both want to keep him moving in that same direction). I would say that my goal/anticipation is for the student to learn this lesson and we can put the matter behind us and keep moving forward in a positive direction.

                                                                                                                            • Jul 27, 2013 9:10pm

                                                                                                                              I know parents wants to see the best in their child; however I feel in handling a situation like the one stated above, I would proceed with caution. I would first let the parent know that I know they care about their child and that I value them as a parent. Then I would proceed with my concerns to the parents. I don't feel that just because the parent is a prominent figure, should not sway my believes and judgement. All children within the classroom should be treated fairly. For situations like this, that is way it is important from the beginning of the school year to build a relationship with all parents, so that when situations come up like that it will help in relaying what had happened.

                                                                                                                              • Jul 28, 2013 11:36pm

                                                                                                                                It is important to stick to the facts, no matter the student or their familial connections to me, personally or professionally. It is important to create a safe, trustworthy, and consistent classroom atmosphere through rules and procedures, and they must be implemented without partiality. I believe that I’d be truthful and consistent in such a situation, providing whatever facts and documentation I had. I would also perform whatever communication with the parent involved in the presence of an administrator. We cannot control the reactions of the parent or student, whether we know them well or not. We can, however, control our own actions, and I believe that responding truthfully, consistently, calmly, and respectfully will be our best bet if our goal is to be positive and constructive.

                                                                                                                                • Jul 29, 2013 8:10am

                                                                                                                                  If a dispute occurs between the teacher and the student and student’s parent, it is important to not fight the battle alone. The teacher should not argue with the parent and student and further complicate the problem. Administration should be asked to step in and help mediate the dispute. It is important for the teacher to calmly and respectfully explain exactly what he or she saw take place. He should give his side of the story and stick to it. It is important to not change the story or back down and allow the parent/student to run over him. The parent’s relationship to the teacher or administration may complicate the situation, but should not be a factor in the results of the misbehavior. The teacher must display integrity by handing out the necessary discipline, no matter how upset a parent might be. It is best if the administration backs the teacher, but if they do not he should still implement the necessary action.

                                                                                                                                  • Jul 29, 2013 10:00am

                                                                                                                                    Regardless of who the parents are, every student should be treated equally. As the teacher, I would write down what I saw, the time it happened and address the student immediately. Always listen to the parents first versus stating the accusations first. This always puts everyone immediately on the defensive side. It might be necessary to get the administration involved but this should only be necessary if everyone is being irrational and the problem itself is not being resolved.

                                                                                                                                    I would meet with the parents first and ask what their child's version of the story was. Next, I would tell them my side of the story. This would make them feel like their story is more important and they might be more open and less defensive. Communication is the biggest key is positive relationships. You want to show the parents how much love and respect you have for each and every child.

                                                                                                                                    • Jul 29, 2013 12:09pm

                                                                                                                                      Dealing with parents can be an intimidating experience for a new teacher as well as for an experienced teacher. When you throw in the facts that the parent disagrees with your point of view and that they are prominent in the community, the experience becomes even more intimidating. This situation could be very difficult and very stressful. I believe the best alternative to this situation is to communicate with the parent(s). First, I would explain what I witnessed and I would give all the supporting details. Secondly, I would listen to what the parent had to say. I understand that there’s more than one point of view to every situation. Thirdly, I would attempt to establish a common ground that we both agree on. After talking with the parent, if there isn’t a possibility of reaching a solution, I would then get the principal involved in the parent / teacher interaction. I would like for the principal to speak with the parent(s) alone and then we could all come together as a group to make the best decision. I would rather the principal speak to the parent(s) alone because I wouldn’t want the parents to feel like they are being double teamed or intimidated. Communication is the key to a successful parent / teacher conference.

                                                                                                                                      • Jul 29, 2013 11:36pm

                                                                                                                                        The position of a parent in the community shouldn’t complicate the situation. It may put psychological pressure on the teacher, yet a fair and confident teacher would not offer special treatment to any of his/her students just because a student’s parent has a respectable position in the society. The rules and procedures are for everyone in the classroom, no exceptions. When a teacher is having a conference with a challenging parent, he/she should stand on his/her ground, be calm, patient, and handle any potential conflict professionally. The teacher should stick to the rules and facts while explaining the conditions of the case, ensuring the parent that he/she cares deeply and only wants what is best for the student. If one-on-one parent teacher conference is not convincing enough for the parent, another meeting can be set in the presence of an administrator with the parent and the student at the same time.

                                                                                                                                        • Jul 2, 2014 12:51pm

                                                                                                                                          I have never dealt with this particular situation so my comment is based solely on my personality and what I think I would have done.

                                                                                                                                          If this situation occurred I would set up a meeting with the student, their parent, and the principal. Although the child's parent and I may have a close relationship I would put that to the side and only approach the situation as a parent and teacher should. I would explain to those at the meeting what occurred then allow the student to give their story. Although the parent may dispute what I am saying and taking the side of their child I would stand firm on my story as well as the consequence that the child received for their actions.

                                                                                                                                          No matter how disgruntle the parent may get I would continue to respond and act professional. I would end the meeting by letting the parent know that they are more than welcome to sit in on class or be a parent volunteer in the classroom whenever possible.

                                                                                                                                          I might not be able to convince the parent to believe my story over their child's, but I will not respond in a negative manner.

                                                                                                                                          • Jul 2, 2014 1:00pm

                                                                                                                                            I have never dealt with this particular situation so my comment is based solely on my personality and what I think I would have done.

                                                                                                                                            If this situation occurred I would set up a meeting with the student, their parent, and the principal. Although the child's parent and I may have a close relationship I would put that to the side and only approach the situation as a parent and teacher should. I would explain to those at the meeting what occurred then allow the student to give their story. Although the parent may dispute what I am saying and taking the side of their child I would stand firm on my story as well as the consequence that the child received for their actions.

                                                                                                                                            No matter how disgruntle the parent may get I would continue to respond and act professional. I would end the meeting by letting the parent know that they are more than welcome to sit in on class or be a parent volunteer in the classroom whenever possible.

                                                                                                                                            I might not be able to convince the parent to believe my story over their child's, but I will not respond in a negative manner.

                                                                                                                                            • Jul 2, 2014 1:01pm

                                                                                                                                              I have never dealt with this particular situation so my comment is based solely on my personality and what I think I would have done.

                                                                                                                                              If this situation occurred I would set up a meeting with the student, their parent, and the principal. Although the child's parent and I may have a close relationship I would put that to the side and only approach the situation as a parent and teacher should. I would explain to those at the meeting what occurred then allow the student to give their story. Although the parent may dispute what I am saying and taking the side of their child I would stand firm on my story as well as the consequence that the child received for their actions.

                                                                                                                                              No matter how disgruntle the parent may get I would continue to respond and act professional. I would end the meeting by letting the parent know that they are more than welcome to sit in on class or be a parent volunteer in the classroom whenever possible.

                                                                                                                                              I might not be able to convince the parent to believe my story over their child's, but I will not respond in a negative manner.

                                                                                                                                              • Jul 2, 2014 1:10pm

                                                                                                                                                I have never dealt with this particular situation so my comment is based solely on my personality and what I think I would have done.

                                                                                                                                                If this situation occurred I would set up a meeting with the student, their parent, and the principal. Although the child's parent and I may have a close relationship I would put that to the side and only approach the situation as a parent and teacher should. I would explain to those at the meeting what occurred then allow the student to give their story. Although the parent may dispute what I am saying and taking the side of their child I would stand firm on my story as well as the consequence that the child received for their actions.

                                                                                                                                                No matter how disgruntle the parent may get I would continue to respond and act professional. I would end the meeting by letting the parent know that they are more than welcome to sit in on class or be a parent volunteer in the classroom whenever possible.

                                                                                                                                                I might not be able to convince the parent to believe my story over their child's, but I will not respond in a negative manner.

                                                                                                                                                • Jul 25, 2015 9:07pm

                                                                                                                                                  I love my job because every day brings the opportunity for a situation, as described in the scenario, to become a very real possibility. I teach 8th graders mathematics! In my first year of teaching (7 years ago) I had a particularly difficult student. This student had no regard for authority, the school, other students, and sadly, not even for her own education. She was the type of student with a behavior file, whose thickness would rival that of the book War and Peace! You get the idea!

                                                                                                                                                  Chapter 2, the parents. Regardless of what the child did, what evidence was presented, what words came out of the students mouth, all fault and responsibility was projected back to the teacher or whomever. I recall on incident where the child called me a very colorful name to which the parents asked when I called home, "What did you do to make her call you such a name?" When shown evidence that the student did not complete three very simply requirements to pass mathematics, after I created a modified curriculum to help her to be successful at her learning level, the parents argued that because she completed any work at all was enough for her to pass. The list goes on and on.

                                                                                                                                                  My advise, in these times, parents are becoming or have become less and less involved in their student's education. My opinion and what I have experienced is the lack of support that parents may have and the lack of ability that parents may have to helped their students at home with their work has manifested itself into stress, guilt, and in many cases, outright anger toward the entire education system. Try to remember:

                                                                                                                                                  ~You are a part of a system that might be causing negative feelings with the parents, don't take it personally. Reassure the parents that you are working for their student and you have their best interest in mind.
                                                                                                                                                  ~:When meeting with parents make sure that you have evidence to back up any claim you may be presenting, (Claims that are positive or negative).
                                                                                                                                                  ~Hold your ground and be proactive. Ask an administrator or a school counselor to join you in any face-to-face meetings. An objective teaching colleague also works well.

                                                                                                                                                  There are several more but these seem to work best for me. Overall, it is very hard to remember the 29 positive sets of parents when you have a few that are difficult. Remember that you do great work and you work benefits all. Stay positive and stay strong. Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                  • Jul 28, 2015 3:43pm

                                                                                                                                                    Before any parent conference (I'm sure it would work for this situation as well), I send home a preconference questionnaire. I usually use this before report card conferences, but really the questions on the questionnaire can be tailored to any situation. This way I find out what the parent wants to talk about, their attitude and the knowledge they already have coming into the conference. As a result, I feel prepared and calm when I meet the parents. This questionnaire has not only helped me with potentially tense situations but also lets the parents know that I am interested in what they have to say. Good luck!