The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

21 June
Comments Off on The Joys Of Being A Teacher…Dealing With A Very Angry Parent

The Joys Of Being A Teacher…Dealing With A Very Angry Parent

After having spent my lunch hour patrolling the playgrounds and corridors making sure a thousand kids at my comp let off steam in a civilised manner I was sitting in my office about five minutes into the start of afternoon lessons and ready to take a bite of my cheese sandwich when the phone rang.
“Better come round, Mr P – we’ve got an effer. It’s Sharon S’s dad”

That was the school office code word for a visitor (usually a parent) who came in out of the blue and demanded to see the head or one of the deputies immediately about how their f****** son or daughter had been treated by either some f****** teacher or another f****** pupil.

Although the textbook reply from reception could have been “Certainly, sir or madam, we’ll arrange an appointment – would next Wednesday at 10.45 be OK?” or even “We refuse to deal with you until you rinse your mouth out with soap and water” the office staff knew that a secondary school reception area is usually busy with passing trade both with both pupils and assorted adults so operation defuse had to be the order of the day.

I was therefore summoned.

Mr S was still at reception, bubbling with anger as I appeared.
“Hello, Mr S” I said “thanks for coming in” and immediately shook his hand.

Notice the cunning strategy? I was immediately owning the situation by pretending that he had entered our turf on my invitation rather than invading us in a fit of anger.
The handshake was even more significant. A gnarled old veteran from east end secondary mods had once told me that physically, psychologically (and statistically) it was very difficult to punch someone straight after they had shaken your hand.

I used the opportunity of Mr S’s confusion to shepherd him away from reception, along the corridor and into my office. He might still be angry but it would now be away from public view, the first important stage of operation defuse.

I closed the door, motioned him so sit down and then sat down myself with the desk between us. I then invited him to inform me of his concerns and the flood gates opened. In between the swear words the story gradually unfolded and it proved to be the old girly chestnut – friends falling out.
For about fifteen minutes there followed an eruption of anger and vituperation punctuated at appropriate moments by a “hmmm” or an “indeed” from me.
Eventually the volcanic activity subsided and Mr S looked down at his boots. After a long pause I sensed my moment had come. “Thank you Mr S” I said “I think I get the picture – leave it with me”
Mr S looked up

“Thanks Mr P” he replied “Sorry for all that stuff beforehand but I was on site and got this phone call from the Mrs with Sharon in the background going wa wa f******* wa……well, you know how it is…”
I gave what I thought was my knowing/sympathetic look and stood up and came round my desk. Mr S stood as well and we shook hands.
“….and thanks for your advice, Mr P” he said as we moved to the door.

Which was odd because I had not given him any advice at all…
On the way out he moved briefly to reception and muttered an apology and went back to his van outside.
“Another triumph for Mr F*** Off” said the girls at reception.
“I don’t know” I replied “he thanked me for my advice but I never gave him any.”
“But you listened” one of them said “and maybe that’s all some folk want at times”

As for Sharon and falling out with her bosom mates? At the end of school I buttonholed her as she was leaving and said her dad had come in about the situation and she just rolled her eyes. “Omygod – really? That’s all sorted, sir, no problem” and she went off, joined her mates and they went arm in arm towards the main gates….

Another notch on the gun for Mr F*** Off……

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