The Ultimate Guide to School Conflict Resolution

Teacher-To-Parent Conflict Resolution

When it comes to children, there are no two parties more invested than parents and teachers. Unfortunately, these emotions can cause tensions to run high when there are any sources of conflict in the school setting. That is why it is quite common for conflict to arise between teachers and parents.

One of the main reasons that conflict occurs is a difference between the parents’ viewpoints and the teacher’s goals for their students. When direct communication is not available, words can get turned around, and people can escalate issues unnecessarily. If parents think that the teachers are not doing a good enough job, then conflict will arise between the two parties, with the kids caught in the middle.

Know that Conflict Will Happen in the Teaching Profession

In today’s world, students come from varied backgrounds, family units, lifestyles, and other factors that make it very easy for teacher-parent conflicts to arise. Conflict can happen at any given time and in any given situation. Some conflict is healthy because it will pave the way for a deeper discussion and understanding between the two parties, hopefully resulting in a resolution and peaceful compromise. 

Parent Conflicts are Notoriously Difficult to Navigate

Parents are inherently invested in their kids and will constantly champion them – sometimes to the extent of coddling. Handling teacher-to-parent conflict in the school setting will be complicated to navigate. If they are working together, the parent and teacher relationship will benefit the child’s learning. On the other hand, if there is constant conflict, children will be placed in a challenging situation that might stunt their learning over time due to parental interference.

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Sources of Teacher-Parent Conflict

There are numerous reasons for conflict to come up between parents and teachers. Here are some of the most common sources of dispute between the two parties.

Teaching Style and Discipline Involving a Student

Each teacher is a unique individual, and their classroom is a reflection teaching style. Sometimes, parents will disagree with the teaching style of their child’s teacher. For example, parents that expect a more traditional learning environment may see a loose and modern way of teaching as incompetence. On the other hand, more conventional teaching styles might be seen as outdated by other parents. 

A teacher’s ability to discipline children always has a fine line. Sometimes disciplinary action is needed to correct the behavior and let students know that there are repercussions if they continue with negative actions. Disciplining students can be a significant source of parent-teacher conflict because parents might disagree on how the teacher handled the situation. They might think that what their child has done should not warrant disciplinary action, which can spark conflict.

Miscommunication with Parents

Many conflicts can be blamed on miscommunication. Miscommunication can come up in many different forms. For example, concerned parents may misunderstand the intentions behind an e-mail or text that is sent from the teacher. Likewise, a student may come home and translate a message differently than it was delivered by the teacher, causing a teacher-parent conflict. 

Opening up lines of communication between teachers and parents will lead to a better relationship and a better understanding of what is happening at home and school. For example, a student may struggle in school because of problems at home, but the teacher may not know this information unless a parent shares it. Communication goes both ways; teachers should also inform the parents of what is going on at school and what topics they are covering so they are well-aware and can actively help their child at home. This symbiotic relationship will directly benefit the student’s education.

Conflict Regarding a Student’s Ability in Class

As parents, it is easy to blame the teacher or the teacher’s instruction if your child is struggling or can’t keep up with the rest of the class. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean the teacher is at fault, even if it is the easiest person for parents to blame. It is essential to know that each child learns differently, and sometimes students need extra time to learn something. Yet the conflict between parents and teachers can occur in these situations and will often result in parties blaming each other for the student’s struggles.

Poor Grades and Attendance

Some issues arise with poor grades and attendance that cause frustration for both parents and teachers. These situations can be amplified by virtual learning protocols and not having a proper action plan to keep kids and parents up to date while learning from home. When it comes to an underperforming or chronically absent student, bringing in a mediator, such as your school’s principal, can be a great way to mitigate the conflict.

Dealing with IEP Students and Their Parents

Some students have different needs than others and require more support from both teachers and parents. For example, a student may have a disability that causes them to lose focus or misbehave during class. To help create the best learning environment for that student, the school will often set up an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), which outlines the best ways to give the student the tools to succeed by modifying the traditional expectations placed on students. 

Yet, these IEPs can still be a source of frequent frustration and parent-teacher conflict. There may be confusion if the plan is not explained in detail to the teacher, parent, and child. In addition, conflict can arise if one party thinks that the student is not getting enough support from the other party or if a parent does not believe that their child needs the IEP. 

Having an Overbearing or ‘Helicopter’ Parent

Helicopter parenting is a term used to describe parents who can’t relinquish their control over their child, even when at school. Overbearing parents will always want to be involved with their child’s schooling. Unfortunately, this need to get involved will often cause them to be in the way of the child’s learning and obstruct the teacher’s ability to run their classroom effectively. The encounters with these helicopter parents can be intense, and teachers should be trained to handle these interactions. In addition, new teachers may want to seek advice from those who have more experience navigating helicopter parent encounters.

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Ways to Mitigate Teacher to Parent Conflict

Handling teacher-to-parent conflict can be challenging. If you are caught in this situation, you have to reach a compromise that will be accepted by both parties to move forward. Here are some of the different ways to reduce and resolve teacher-to-parent conflicts.

Set Clear Expectations for Students at the Start of the School Year

Teachers can start the year off by sending home a syllabus explaining their teaching style. Other important information to share includes how the classroom will be run and disciplinary procedures for students not meeting the set expectations. Providing clear communication from the beginning can serve as an early intervention for any future misunderstandings.  

Set Expectations and Create Two-Way Lines of Communication for Parents

Parents need to know where they stand within the school environment. They should feel like partners in their child’s learning experience without feeling entitled to run the show, especially inside the school. Parents need to clearly understand that when their kids are in school, this is the teacher’s realm and that they cannot control everything that happens inside the classroom. 

At the same time, establishing direct communication with parents through e-mail, texting, and apps should limit the opportunities for miscommunication with parents. Communicate often, not just when a negative situation arises.

Clear Communication about Their Student’s Progress

Being proactive can help build strong parent-teacher relationships. Many parents monitor things like grades and attendance through an online portal. Keeping this information current and addressing patterns or issues along the way will help build a positive parent-teacher relationship.

Having regular check-ins between parents and teachers is crucial because it will keep the parents updated regarding their child’s progress. If the child is struggling, the teacher might bring up some suggestions that can help the child at home to reinforce the learning outside of school. Both parties should be open to feedback.

Communication should also be initiated in instances where the student is doing well. Sometimes, teachers look at parent-teacher conferences as an avenue to air out all the bad things about a particular student. However, communicating with parents about areas that a child is succeeding in school can be extremely beneficial in fostering trust between teachers and parents.

Don’t Take Parental Outbursts Personally

One of the most important lessons a teacher can accept is that these confrontations should not be taken personally. It is easy to react emotionally during a conflict; both parties are deeply invested in the student’s success and always have their well-being in mind. As a teacher, it is crucial to accept negative feedback from parents constructively. You should try not to be defensive, but instead, use it to improve yourself.

Even Though It May Be Difficult, Keep a Level Head as a Teacher

Keeping a level head in these situations is vital. Knowing that a teacher has resources such as the school principal or other school personnel in specific cases can also help alleviate some of this conflict. Reaching out to include others with an outside view of the situation could also help resolve parent-teacher conflicts.  

Try to Find a Compromise When Dealing with Difficult Parents

The end goal of any conflict is to reach a compromise between the two parties. When handling parent-to-teacher conflict, it is vital to create an open dialogue, find the root of the problem, and explore options to resolve the dispute altogether. 

Seek Help from School Administration if Conflict Becomes Worse

Sometimes, the conflict between teachers and parents might escalate to the point where it cannot be resolved without another party’s mediation. When both parties are in a stalemate and cannot reach a resolution, bringing in the principal or a school administrator will sometimes provide relief.

A mediator can help by bringing a fresh perspective to the situation, especially if both parties are stuck and can’t move forward. In addition, school administrators likely have experience handling similar cases and can shed light on how the problem was successfully resolved in other situations.

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Building a Strong Culture at School through Conflict Resolution

Building a strong culture at school is a responsibility shared by many, including students, teachers, parents, and school administrators. Fostering a strong sense of culture is essential because it will help identify the goals needed to be attained by everyone in the school. Conflict can sometimes feel like a hurdle to healthy school culture, but by resolving conflict, you have the opportunity to build an even stronger school culture and deeper partnerships that will help each student reach their goals.

Contact TEEN TRUTH for More Resources on Teacher-Parent Conflict

There will always be teachers and concerned parents who care about their students in a school setting. Unfortunately, when handling parent-to-teacher conflict, there is no single proven way to handle every problem. However, schools can be proactive by building a climate and culture for positive growth through open communication and training teachers to work through parent-teacher conflicts. 

Contact TEEN TRUTH to learn how the leading techniques for resolving parent-teacher conflicts! Let our expertise guide you to deal with these conflicts in a healthy way that builds stronger relationships!

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