An AskReddit post from Wednesday has drawn some interesting responses with a simple yet enticing question: “Teachers of Reddit, what was the strangest encounter you’ve had with a student’s parents?” The responses so far have included everything from psychic students and chronically-missing pencils to child abuse and parents who refuse to put their child’s needs above their own.
In fact, many of the stories, perhaps predictably, involve parents who don’t quite seem to understand what goes on in their child’s classroom. From Reddit user aka1107:
At conferences this year, a parent came in irate about the fact that his daughter had to learn "Obama-math." I tried to keep a straight face until he was done, when I reminded him that I'm the history teacher. He never did go see the math teacher, and I never did figure out what Obama-math is.
I have a teacher friend who was ranted/screamed by one of her students' father during an open house with all of her students and their parents around. The dad totally lost it and yelled in her face, called her a communist, and ended up storming off. My friend was a kindergarten teacher - He was berating her after she explained that at her school they teach their students to share art supplies.
Other teachers described situations that were simply bizarre or awkward, like TheyCallMeBoz‘s encounter with the local wildlife:
Parent-Teacher conferences, my first year (paid) teaching. Parent comes in, literally with one minute to go before we're off for the night. So we're chatting, and her daughter is a great student, so it's an easy conference. Then I feel something hit my head. Image Parent: Mouse! Me: (Looking around) WHO IS THROWING A MOUSE AT ME???? Parent: No, a real mouse! Look! She points at the ground and I see an actual, real life mouse. I look up and see that it had dropped from a ceiling tile missing in the ceiling. It scurries underneath my coworkers desk. He is also having a conference with a parent. Somebody yells to him, MOUSE, and he looks down, STOMPS the mouse with his boot, and continues the conference like nothing happened. Best part was at the next staff meeting, one of my coworkers gifted me a bike helmet covered in mouse traps for "protection."
Though many users related stories that were stressful, dangerous, or otherwise troubling, there are some more encouraging stories in the collection, like GoodAtExplaining‘s post:
Big dude. Ponytail, biker jacket, Harley rider. Scruffy, looked the type to be in a motorcycle gang. Came into my classroom in my first year of teaching. Generally, these kinds of guys don't show up to parent-teacher nights, right? So when they do, you just have to take a deep breath. It didn't really start well: "Are you the guy that's teaching my daughter?", he said in that low kinda throaty growl. Sounded like the bike he rode, I guess. What could I do but answer as professionally as possible "Yes, your daughter is a student in my Canadian History class. I have her marks here if you-" "Yeah, not right now. She's been incredibly afraid of tests, exams, and school. But for some reason, she never misses your class. Always tells me about it. I don't know how you're doing it, but she really likes your class."
GoodAt Explaining had been working with that particular student on her test anxiety all year and still remembers that moment as particularly moving: “That big dude coming into my classroom, and how quickly the situation turned 180º is pretty memorable for me.”
Of course, a large number of stories came out of parent-teacher conferences. CranialEruption summed up most of these in their comment, responding to a story about a student whose questionable behavior turned out to perfectly match their parent’s:
My [teacher] dad made Bingo boards for parent-teacher conferences. "Parent explains the child" is practically a free space.
These stories are only a few of the many unexpected, unnerving, and downright weird tales from teachers. For more, see the full post.
Photo from Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain
A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.