Dear Snarky – My Parent Teacher Conference Was a Shit Show

Dear Snarky,

I’m about to lose my f’ing mind with the high school my son attends. Last week was parent/teacher conferences. My son (an honors student, athlete, on the student council etc) is struggling in one of his classes so I made an appointment to have a conference in private with the teacher of the class he is not performing well in.

When I got there for a conference that was only 15 minutes long the teacher talked non-stop about herself for 10 minutes. I feel like I know her entire life story. I’m sure she would probably have gone on and on about herself for the entire 15 minutes if I hadn’t finally interrupted her and said, “Are you done talking about yourself because I need you to focus on my son.”

This made her so angry that she stood up, grabbed a book off her desk, threw it down on the floor and told me to “get out of her classroom or she would call security.” I was shocked and in what was probably not my finest hour I said, “You don’t need to call security, you need to call your therapist” and I walked out.

The next day my son is called to the principal’s office and with his guidance counselor there he’s told that based on his mother’s actions during the parent/teacher conference that the teacher “doesn’t feel safe” with my son in her class and he’s being assigned to a new math teacher.

What the hell? Since when are our kids punished for what their parents do? And it’s not like I threatened this teacher. I literally said two sentences to her the entire conference. My son is embarrassed and furious at me and I’m furious at the school for not having me or my husband there when they talked to my son. I’m also livid that now my kid – a “scholar athlete” might be tagged with a “doesn’t feel safe” label in his school records.  Also, what about the teacher who in my opinion sucks. 

I’m ready to get an attorney involved but I don’t know if that will just make everything worse.

Signed, Mad Mama

Dear Mad Mama,

Well, this is a hot mess. But I think you need to look upon portions of what happened as positive. Staring with the fact that your son no longer has this teacher for math. 

It’s not like he’s in elementary school where kids have the same teacher for most of the day and starting over with a new teacher can be traumatic. This is just probably one 50-minute class, five days a week. So, his schedule isn’t going to get jacked up that much. You also mentioned he was struggling in the class so maybe a new teacher will be a better fit for his learning style.

Moving on to the principal and counselor meeting with your son. I think if they were following best practices they most definitely should have had a parent in the meeting. Especially when the meeting is about one of the kid’s parents. So, I wouldn’t be shy about letting the school know that.

As for the “not safe” statement in regard to your son being in the class – that’s concerning. Your son didn’t do anything – you did and whatever notes they have in your son’s file need to reflect “teacher/parent conflict” not a “teacher doesn’t feel safe with student in class.”

Holy hell a lot can be read into that statement, and I would make damn sure that it is corrected – pronto. If it takes an attorney to make that happen, then so be it.

As for your behavior in the parent/teacher conference – you know you messed up. Sure, the teacher might have been, let’s call it, not focused on the reason that you were there, but you should have just kept your cool and told yourself that your son needs to transfer out of this class asap. Because if the teacher talks about herself this much in a parent/teacher conference it doesn’t signal much confidence in what goes on in the classroom.

I’m not saying the teacher doesn’t bear responsibility for what went down during and after the conference (honestly the whole interaction sounds disturbing) but you’re only in charge of your own behavior and as parents we need to think about how our actions can affect our children. You had to know that throwing out the “are you done talking about yourself” and the “therapy” bombs would probably have some negative repercussions – and it did.

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