As a professional who works with students, it is inevitable that you will one day have to deal with an unhappy parent. As a substitute teacher, you are at a unique disadvantage because you are not likely to know the full background and previous history of a student. Many times a parent is reacting to the culmination of a number of previous incidents. If this happens, make an effort to redirect the conversation back to the topic at hand. If a parent tries to bring up something that happened earlier in the school year, be sure to emphasize that you cannot speak to that situation.
Good teachers recognize the vital importance of a strong parent teacher connection. If a parent reaches out to you while you are completing a substitute teaching job, you do not want to say or do something that may compromise that connection. Instead, listen to the parent’s concerns and leave a detailed message for the teacher. This will prepare her to appropriately address the parent when she returns. Your role when dealing with an upset parent should be that of an information-gatherer.
If a parent approaches you in school, it is good practice to speak in a location away from students, but within earshot of other adults. This will protect the privacy of the student without putting you a bad position. If the parent is angry and becomes belligerent, you do not want to find yourself some place where you feel trapped. The likelihood of this happening is rare, but it is best to be prepared.
Parents and teachers alike want the same thing - students that are successful and do well in school. I this way, everyone is on the same side. Unfortunately, sometimes in the heat of the moment, parents lose sight of this. For more ways to handle difficult situations that you may encounter while substitute teaching, take a look at our blog, or leave us a comment below. We strive to provide you with tips for becoming a better sub who can be successful in the classroom!