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How do you deal with difficult parents?

Answer examples and advice for how to answer this interview question for a Social Studies Teacher interview

The interviewer wants to know that you feel confident in facing difficulties, especially when talking to the parents of your students. Difficult parents can be much more challenging than the students at times! When a student is struggling in your class, you might be faced with parent meetings. Speak from experience. If you haven't been in this situation before, talk about how you would handle it, drawing from your personal experience.

Basic answer example
"I talk to the parents in the same way I approach a struggling student. I want to understand the bigger picture of what's wrong, so I ask questions and I listen. Once we identify the problem, we discuss ways that we can work together to help their child improve their results."
Entry Level answer example
"I understand that some parents may be challenging. I would remind the parent that we are working together towards the same goal, which is guiding their child towards a lifetime of success in learning. I would ask the parent what their expectations are for me, as the teacher, and make a plan from there."
Experienced answer example
"Parents can be emotional when it comes to their children's performance in the classroom. Whenever I have encountered a challenging parent I will first ensure that we have clear-cut, and reasonable goals set, for all parties involved. Often a solid plan of action, written down, and signed by the parents, the student, and myself, is a great help."

View user-submitted Answers

How do you deal with difficult parents?
Student apathy and lack of motivation towards Social studies topics.
The lack of autonomy, and somewhat static role as a ParaEducator. It was very difficult to only be an aid instead of a facilitator of learning. I was allowed to make due by conducting several interdisciplinary lessons within the English classroom to that of History, but it made me feel as if I was not utilizing all of my teaching talents that I would have liked to.
The biggest challenge was understanding how to talk to the kids and build a relationship with them, especially my most troubled kids.
Well the subject matter itself, religion at a Catholic school, is not always the most motivating content for high school students especially if they are not Catholic and resent having to take a religion course. Although, I must admit the biggest challenge for myself was to not deviate from the Catechism, which I was being paid to teach and endorse, while also allowing my students to express their views respectfully and seriously in class discussions or Socratic seminars .
Maintaining student motivation without being able to differentiate the content, process, and products of learning.
Being able to keep my position. Due to my schedule, I was not free when the teachers of the students I worked with directly were not free. This made it difficult to meet with them regarding students and collaboration.
I found the class was over crowded so management was difficult along with studies.
Adhering to a highly scripted reading program when teaching at the elementary. The position I held before that had very little programming laid out for me to follow. I was accustomed to making my own way and being empowered with plenty of self-direction in terms of instructional choices and curriculum choices which ironical was difficult at first and over time became a strength and personal preference. So when I started teaching at the elementary I had to adjusted to that and I have done so very well at this point.
The biggest challenge I faced was going in with a small window to prepare my lessons, unit plans, notes, etc. For the students I was about to teach. I was given the job on a thursday and started the following monday picking up where the other teacher left off. The difficulty was the stress it created of wanting to be fully prepared, meeting the needs of the students while also meeting the objectives of the teacher I was filling in for. At the same time this challenge was a great learning experience for me on time management, preparation, planning, and adapting my lessons to what the feel and responses were from my students. I was allowed to really create my lessons from scratch, my notes from scratch with borrowed parts from previous lessons I had done or from the teacher I was filling in. The challenge was knowing what direction to go, why I wanted to go that direction, and how it would effect the learning environment as a whole.
I felt as if I received very little support from my team members and that my admins presupposed that I had been working within a certain framework that should have naturally been familiar to me. it made me feel uncomfortable asking questions or seeking advice.
The challenge I faced was to get students to communicate their feelings in a positive way.
By letting them know their child difficulties and calendar.

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