My favorite back-to-school ritual as a first-grade teacher is to tenderly place name tags on each of my new student’s desks. I think about each child, how I will impact their life, and how they will impact mine over the coming year. It is the time of year where I am almost giddy with anticipation. While I am thrilled to meet my new students, I am equally nervous about meeting their parents. I am not alone in this sentiment. Teachers I know consistently list students as the best part of teaching and their parents as the worst part of teaching.
Don’t get me wrong. The vast majority of the parents in my class are fantastic, but a few archetype parents always show up on my roster every year and secretly make me dream of summer before the year even begins. Allow me to introduce the top 10 parent types that every teacher secretly hates:
1. The Special Snowflake Parent
Yes, your child is special, but so is every other student in my class. No, your child is not special enough that they don’t have to do their homework, be on time or follow classroom procedures. I get it. I am a parent, too. My kids are my world, but parents have to be grounded enough to accept that the rules apply to all children, even theirs. These are the same parents who are convinced that their little precious can do no wrong—ever.
2. The Magic Bullet Parent
All parents want their children to do better in school, but this parent wants higher grades and improved reading levels without needing to do any extra work. While I am explaining the need for reading together at night, he is still looking for the quick fix or any other solution where he doesn’t have to be involved.
3. The Overhead Parent
It’s a normal, after-school day, but instead of grading papers, I have been summoned to the principal’s office. I am racking my brain to think of why—I know I turned in my three-week reports—and then it hits me. I’m a victim of the Overhead Parent. This parent has a problem with something that has happened in my classroom, but she skips the step of talking to me and goes straight to my boss. Not only am I sheepish at being sent to the principal’s office, but I am frustrated that a conversation between the two of us wasn’t the first course of action.
4. The Hovering Parent
Is this parent a clone or has she just perfected the art of teleporting? She is everywhere, hanging at the back of the classroom long after the other parents have gone about their day. These parents never seem to be able to give their kids the space to tie their own shoes, manage their materials or make a few mistakes.
5. The Ghost Parent
This parent’s name is on the roster, but does he really exist? This parent has never actually been seen, and it makes me a little nervous because I know connected parents make successful students. Again, I understand what it is like to be a working parent, but I wish he would take an opportunity to touch base by phone or at parent’s night.
6. The No-Boundaries Parent
If I get a text message at 11 p.m., I don’t even have to check who it is. I know it’s the No-Boundaries Parent “just checking” on something for the next day. Every time I check my email, I have a message—or six—from this parent. These aren’t short notes; they are more like epics. If I am rushing off to the bathroom during my five-minute break or scarfing down my lunch during my 30-minute lunch time, I can count on this parent to find me to talk. It’s not just the volume of their contact; it’s the timing.
7. The Competing Custody Parents
This pair of parents is a dynamic duo of disaster, where they share custody but fight over everything else. They seem to be in a race to see how they can make themselves look the best while making the other look the worst. They’re never on the same page, and it’s obvious that communication about what is happening at school is falling flat. In this race, the child is always the loser.
8. The Boss Parent
This parent brings a business sense to the classroom, and he wants to make sure I know that my place in the hierarchy is somewhere below him. He has no problem letting me know that he is in charge and I am punching my card on his company clock. This parent sees me not as a partner, but as an employee. It’s just a matter of time before he says “I pay taxes, so I am your boss.”
9. The Teacher-Hater Parent
I’m not sure what happened in the past to make this parent hate teachers, but the hatred is real. This parent believes that this is a fall-back job or that I only took it because I get the summers off. Or worse, she thinks that I have it in for her student and that I spend time creating ways to make them suffer. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the parent is convinced it is my fault and the fault of all the others like me.
10. The All Drama Parent
The MO of this parent is to take a minor school incident, blow it out of proportion, and repeat as often as necessary until she gets her way. For variety, sometimes there are tears and sometimes there is yelling, but there is always drama. It’s not over until the school board is involved and every single parent on the playground has heard about the injustice.