Pitfalls of Parent-Teacher Relationships by Melissa Keir
From Christina: We hear it all the time. “Write what you know.” That’s exactly what Melissa Keir did in Chalkboard Romance, her steamy romance about a teacher who falls for the parent of a student. It’s a situation she knows about from first-hand experience.
Pitfalls of Parent-Teacher Relationships
by Melissa Keir
What are the pitfalls or dangers behind parent/teacher relationships?
I’ve been a teacher for over twenty years. A lot has changed in education during that time. As schools have become more competitive as they market to entice families to select their school, parents have become more important as well as a more vocal majority. Not only are they dictating curriculum but also having more say in which teachers are let go. In order to be successful, teachers must establish positive relationships with parents.
A teaching friend who is divorced recently met with her daughter’s teacher. The teacher was frustrated because my friend’s ex-husband was pursuing the teacher online. The two were a part of a national dating website and the ex-husband was sending daily *winks* and seeking the teacher out for a date. At this point, the teacher had to finally be firm- no dating parents. Although this wasn’t dictated from the school, but her own personal choice, dating parents has it’s own pitfalls. As if STALKERS weren’t bad enough?
I’m actually married to a former student’s parent. John’s (my student-name changed) parents were divorced. I’d heard tales about the fighting between the parents at conferences and meetings. It appeared that they never got along. John’s mom was in my classroom all the time because she was worried about John. He was behind in school. I arranged for him to get extra help and that year his reading grew, surpassing his grade level. I was very close with his mom as we worked together to help John succeed.
As a divorced parent myself, it was important to me to keep both parents informed of events in the classroom. The first time I met John’s dad was at an overnight field trip. He was nice and appeared to be flirting with me and one of my teaching partners. She knew him from the gym (and had been John’s teacher the year before). It wasn’t until that summer (and when John wasn’t my student) that I even considered seeing Mark.
Naturally our frienship turned into a romantic relationship. As I returned to school, I was excited about the year ahead and my new love. This is when I should have been happiest but problems cropped up. The teachers who were on my team, were against my relationship. They called me into a meeting and basically yelled at me for an hour, until I got up and walked out. They felt I was ruining the school with my relationship. My teaching relationship with those teachers was forever changed. NOT friends forever!
In fact, as that year progressed…John’s mom turned against me. She’d decided that her ex-husband wasn’t so bad and wanted him back. Funny how once you’ve let something go, it suddenly seems more interesting. I’ve been married for eight years now and could’t be happier. EVIL EX-WIFE…still gets in the way at times.
However, not only can parent/teacher relationships be a struggle due to romance, they can be a struggle due to history. This year, I actually have a former student’s child as one of my students. Liam’s father was once my student during my first year of teaching. He was a student that I really liked and felt for because he didn’t have a good home life. I used to provide them food and drive them home from school. I became another parent that they came to when problems happened. So when I received my class list this year, I was excited that I would have Liam, but also a little worried because of my friendship with Liam’s dad and family. Liam’s mom assured me that she didn’t want Liam to turn into her husband. She knew he wasn’t the best student. I don’t judge. Liam is his own person and I teach each child according to what they know and where they need to go. Liam would never be penalized because of his parent.
Within the first week of school, Liam’s mom came to me upset about my writing and my author website. She felt it was too promiscuous, all because her husband was making jokes about me being a sexy teacher. My writing has never been an issue. I’m friends with many former parents yet, now I was embarrassed. I explained to her that she didn’t want me to judge her son by his father, she shouldn’t judge me.
Most teachers today don’t have a morality clause in their contracts but are “at will” employees. Districts can let them go without notice and without reason. The complaints of a few parents or accolades as well…go a long way toward making a teacher’s job harder or easier. Chalkboard Romance shows just what damage one parent can do.
My advice is to be the best teacher you could be…love the students…work hard and let the gossips roll off your back.
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