20 Things Never to Say to Your Kid's Teacher

school classroomIf you have a kid in school, you've probably heard them. Nasty remarks about teachers. Be honest with yourself; maybe you've (probably) even thought a few. Hopefully you're not one of the parents who actually says them TO the teacher?

Oh, no, no, no you didn't!

You do realize this person has to stand in front of anywhere from 15 to 20+ kids every day and actually, ya know, make them listen? See, there are days I can't do that with my one kid. And there is no prize available on God's green earth that would actually convince me to go into a classroom and deal with a dozen of them.

You see, I'm one of those "God bless teachers" kind of moms. These men and women put themselves out there day after day for kids who aren't even theirs. They love our kids. Hug our kids. Teach our kids the difference between addition and subtraction, between protons and neutrons. They could use a little support.

So how about striking any of these comments off your list for your next parent/teacher meeting?


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1. I hate to say anything against [teacher X], but ... -- Pitting teachers against each other is NOT cool, says Jessica Lahey, a teacher and author of the upcoming book, The Gift of Failure.

2. I know _______ (somebody on the school board). -- Are you threatening him/her? That's just uncool!

3. You WILL NOT discipline my child without asking me first. -- Sure, she'll just get you on the phone every time your son flicks a booger at his best buddy. Uh. Huh. 

4. That's your job, I'm not a teacher! -- No, you're not, but you're still the child's parent. Just practice the darn math facts at home, OK?

5. Excuse me for one moment, I have to take this call [during a parent/teacher conference]. -- You get 15 minutes after school to talk about your child's performance, and you can't even stay focused for that time?

6. My first grade daughter still has a problem wiping her butt, could you please help her with that? -- So, what you're saying is the teacher should leave a classroom of 16 kids to fend for themselves because you can't teach your 6-year-old to wipe her butt?

7. I don't have time to read to my child. -- MAKE the time.

8. I don't read to my child because we don't have books. -- Ever heard of a library?

9. You're so lucky that you get paid to sit around all summer. -- Technically, most teachers DON'T get paid to sit around all summer. As one explained to us, "Actually, our contract is for 10 months and we are unemployed for two months. Some of us choose to have our paycheck stretched out for 12 months but the point is we only are contracted for 10 months."

10. I know you are just doing your job, but ... -- If you know they're just doing their job, there is no but. 

11. Teachers are lucky because they can't be fired because of tenure. -- Not actually true!

12. I don't know why they are not doing well this year they were always an A student in other classes. -- Before you start hurling accusations at the teacher for your child's poor performance, how about asking a few questions about what's going on inside that classroom! Is the subject matter much more difficult than in years past? Is your child's behavior causing a problem in the classroom?

13. My child would NEVER do that you must be mistaken. -- NEVER?

14. It must be nice to only work until 3:00. -- Generally a teacher's workday starts earlier than your typical 9-to-5 worker (how many schools do you know that start after 9?). And as one teacher told us, "I have never seen a teacher actually leave the building on time and without bags of work."

20 things not to say to a teacher15. Well, you must have lost all his work. He is very responsible. -- All of it?

16. My child said you said this to the whole class, and he would never lie. -- Maybe your child didn't lie, but sometimes what you hear from a child is like that old game Telephone. It's nothing like what was said in the actual classroom!

17. My child is awful/lazy/no good/going to end up in prison. -- Teachers love kids. That's why they got into the field in the first place. They don't want to hear you tearing a kid down anymore than they want to tear your kid down.

18. I pay your salary. -- Technically, it may be true, but there's really no way to say this without sounding haughty and self-involved.

19. Why didn't you tell me about [Child X]? -- Unless your child is involved in a confrontation with another kid or somehow in danger (think lice or chicken pox), a teacher is ethically bound NOT to tell you about what's going on with that other child. Pressuring them to talk to you about other kids isn't fair, and you wouldn't want another parent doing it about YOUR child.

20. I called the superintendent's/principal's office. -- If that's your last resort, fine. But how about talking to the teacher FIRST?

As one teacher friend put it to me when I asked her if she deals with rude parents, "There are 16 to 24 students in a class, teachers make mistakes, they are human."

Amen to that!

Have you ever said anything on the list? Which one?


Image via Max Wolfe/Flickr

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