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Why teachers say dealing with parents is the worst part of their job

Teachers are under a lot of pressure. Teacher shortages, growing workloads as well as the demands of a complex job mean many teachers are stressed.

Unfortunately, recent research shows that parents are not helping. In fact, they are making the problem worse.

Teachers are increasingly copping abuse from parents and it’s undermining their desire to stay in the profession.

Bullying, abuse and threats

A 2020 Australian Catholic University/ Deakin University survey of more than 2,000 Australian principals found 83% had experienced bullying, the threat of physical violence or physical violence in the past 12 months.

The survey did not specify where the abuse came from, but it did report a significant increase in parental engagement due to the pandemic. About 28% of surveyed principals said they were spending an extra two hours a day dealing with parents.

The survey’s researchers also recommended having recorded, online parent/ teacher interviews to minimise exposure to “offensive behaviour”.

This has not escaped the attention of policymakers. From term 3, the Victorian government introduced powers to ban parents from school grounds for threatening behaviour and bullying towards staff. Western Australia has a similar ban in place.

Kirsten Lambert, Senior Lecturer in English and Graduate Research, Murdoch University interviewed more than 80 teachers across four different studies over the past ten years.

This included studies with teachers from government and independent schools, and both primary and secondary schools. It also includes early career teachers and teachers in remote and rural communities.

Out of these, three consistent themes arise: teachers are passionate about teaching, the job is incredibly stressful and does not come with enough support and the profession is increasingly disrespected by the community. This includes media reporting about schools, comments from political leaders, as well as parents’ behaviour towards teachers.

Teachers are expected to be parents

Some teachers spoke of being like a parent to their students. But while teachers are very caring and protective of their students, they are sometimes taken advantage of by parents who outsource parenting, discipline and child-minding.

Many parents think teachers just work from 8.30am to 3.00pm. The reality is they have to create lessons, have staff and parent meetings, mark work, complete administration and respond to emails outside of these hours.

School is a workplace – not just a learning place

Parents should also be mindful that a school is also someone else’s workplace. Teachers are already working overtime (literally) to educate their children – they don’t need abuse from parents on top of this.

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Read the full article here: – The Conversation, Kirsten Lambert, Senior Lecturer in English and Graduate Research, Murdoch University