When parents see their child's school on the Caller ID, there are two possible responses:
1. "Oh no, I hope he's not hurt!"
2. "Oh no, what did he do NOW?!"
I am on the other end of the line with news about your child. Sometimes it's good news, but most times, it's not so good.
It's difficult to tell a parent that their child is causing problems in my classroom and so calling parents is not my favorite thing to do.
After a few years of calling parents, I have been able to categorize parents by their initial responses during that first phone call home. (I say the first, because unfortunately, in some cases, many calls are made by the end of the school year.)
Here are the types of parents I have run across:
The Agreeable: This is the best type of parent to call. They quickly acknowledge your concerns, perhaps ask questions about the specific behavior or classroom environment and then assure you that it will be taken care of at home. They thank you for calling. Short, sweet and simple. You usually don't have to make many phone calls home to this parent throughout the year.
The Weeper: This conversation usually starts out like the Agreeable parent. But then, just when you think you are about to get off the phone, silence, followed by broken words and sniffling. This parent is typically saddened that her baby has reached puberty and has turned into an entirely different person. "What are we to do with him???" sniffle... sniffle....very awkward.
The Excuse-Giver: This parent is quick to interrupt you as you describe the problem behavior. "Oh, well, he didn't sleep well last night," or "Her dad has been out of town and it is really affecting her," or the classic and most heard of them all, "He forgot to take his medicine today." This is a well-meaning parent, and making excuses is sometimes easier than having to deal with the bad behavior.
The Defender: This parent is usually very quiet at the beginning of the conversation, hanging on your every word. It is not until she speaks that you realize that the reason that she was quiet, was so she could find a loophole for her child. "What is wrong with your instruction, your classroom or the manner in which you handled the misbehavior? This could not possibly be MY child's fault, so we must get to the bottom of why YOU are targeting MY child like this!"
The Whatever: This is the worst kind of parent contact for a teacher. If you can get this parent on the phone, you are lucky. He is usually screening your call, and that's if you can locate his number because the numbers the school has are disconnected. Once you have trapped him on the phone, he will silently listen while you describe the situation. You may have to say, "Hello, are you there?" every once in a while to make sure he hasn't hung up on you. Then he says, "Ok then, thanks for calling." CLICK. You won't get ahold of this parent again, but it's alright, because he had already forgot you called by the next time he saw his child.
So, which type of parent are you?