Teacher in a role conflict. A focus on parents

Term Paper, 2015

10 Pages, Grade: 1,6


Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. Role conflict and the teacher
2.1. The role conflict – A definition
2.2. Role conflicts between parents and teachers

3. Solutions and strategies

4. Conclusion

5. Bibliography

1. Introduction

In the last years the job as a teacher has become more and more stressful as many studies about burnout prove. One reason for this might be that teachers are put under pressure by various factors, for example the pressure to answer their own expectations, the parents, who get involved more and more into the school and the classroom, the feeling to be as good as other colleagues, the ongoing changes in the syllabus and structural changes that expect more and more from teachers, social expectations or status and many more aspects. The school is a social system and teachers are very important parts of this system, but unfortunately there is little attention paid to this fact. Many studies that try to analyze the system “school” mainly focus on the students and little on the teachers.

As a future teacher it is very important to be able to cope with the high level of stress, but many of them do not feel comfortable in the role of a teaching person. Especially for younger teachers it is often difficult to feel in the position of being a teacher, even if there is a lot of good advice and theory about successful classroom management. But none of it can substitute the experiences every teacher has to make on his or her own. Feeling comfortable in a role and therefore being able to avoid many stressful situations is nothing that comes all at once, it is a process that develops with experience and time. Many young teachers are unable to cope with the new difficulties, but also more experienced teachers still have to face conflicts. In all ages and classrooms role conflicts will be coming up, teachers have to deal with, therefore it is very important to analyze where these problems emerge and to find solutions, because solving these conflicts might help them to feel more comfortable in front of the class and in their role.

There are many different types of role stress but especially the problems with parents will always be a decisive factor. They have many different expectations on teachers, that are often different and not clearly defined, but they want the best for their children, due to the fact that education became very important nowadays. Therefore this term paper focuses on conflicts between teachers and parents and tries to find solutions how to avoid them and how to deal with them. This might help young teachers, but also more experienced teachers, to become more secure in the classroom and to avoid stressful situations with parents and students beforehand.

2. Role conflict and the teacher

This chapter deals with the role conflicts many teachers have to face during their career. The knowledge about eventual upcoming conflicts in the classroom and with the own identity as a teacher can help to prevent stress and workload beforehand. Therefore the term “role conflicts” will be defined and important factors for role stress between parents and teachers will be analyzed. Solutions and strategies will be discussed afterwards in the third chapter of this term paper.

2.1. The role conflict – A definition

Before starting to discuss different role conflicts that may occur, it is important to make clear what is meant exactly by the term “role conflict”. G. R. Grace describes it as follows:

“Despite variations in the terms used, the central component of all the formulations is incompatibility. Thus role conflict, role strain or role stress are all concerned with problems for the individual which arise as the result of role incompatibilities.”1

In addition to that there are different forms of incompatibilities, for example between roles or within a specific role. These are called inter-role conflicts and intra-role conflicts. An Inter-role conflict occurs when a person has two or more positions and the role expectations of these positions are not compatible.2 This could be for example the role of a father and a husband. An intra-role conflict occurs when the reason for a conflict arises from different sources within the role.3 Teachers experience inter-role conflicts as well as intra-role conflicts, which makes the dealing with it even more complex.

Furthermore there is an “incompatibility of expectations of a role or between the orientation of a role and a particular social or cultural context, incompatibility between role expectations and the personality dispositions of the individual.”4 A role conflict exists, if significant differences for various expectations exist.5 A study by Musgrove proves that the extent of disagreements according to a rating of different categories (discipline, teaching, personality and organization) by teachers, parents, students and the headmaster can measure the role conflicts a teacher has to face.6

Role stress can also develop, “because the individual perceives that others hold different expectations for him as the incumbent of a single position or because the expectations of one or more members of the role set conflict with the individual’s own role conception.”7 It is noticeable that role expectations are not clear defined in fact they are a set of expectations. These are conflicts between ideal and reality.

2.2. Role conflicts between parents and teachers

Wilson has suggested that all roles that require a high dedication for other people are susceptible to inner conflicts and insecurities.8 So teachers are definitely one of them. Beneath all other duties, teachers have to make sure, that the communication between the parents, students and them is fine. This can happen by letters or notes or also at a parent conference day. But there are more factors than that why teachers may not fulfil parent’s expectations concerning their role. This chapter deals with reasons for this and tries to explain both side’s reactions.

Parents play a big role in school and they have different expectations on the school and the teachers. Nowadays parents are involved more and more in the classroom and their view on teachers has changed a lot in comparison to 60 years ago. It became common to question teacher’s methods, to be more accurate they are often criticized. If teachers are asked about parents they show a general mistrust due to parent’s expectations.9 On the other hand the interaction between parents and teachers is described as “to get on well together”.10

But why is this the case? Going deeper into the topic, interesting aspects are revealed, for example the parent’s social status and the thereby accompanied different expectations of what school can accomplish. Parents, who belong to the upper middle-class, expect their children to have success in school.11 The teacher is seen in the role of a surveyor, a source of information and an evaluator.12 These parents seem to support the school system, but expect the teacher to enable their children to achieve a good education for their later career, which is the reason why these parents often send their children to a secondary school, also against the teacher’s recommendation. Unlike parents that come from the working class, who mostly send their children to lower secondary schools and tend to accept the teacher’s advice.13

The school is seen as a relieving authority that takes over the responsibility for education and parenting, the teacher is expected to take the role of an educator14.15 This is a problem, because there is no clear division between the responsibility of education at home and education in school.16 In a class with 30 to 40 students it is very difficult to fulfil every parent’s expectation due to different educational approaches and other social, religious and political beliefs.17 This might even lead to the shocking fact that some teachers stop asking critical questions in class.18 A problem occurs, if parents try to transfer educational responsibility to the teacher, which is mainly the parent’s job.19 The conflict occurs, if the teacher role and the role of the parent are not separated clearly. This might lead to the attitude that the school or teachers will do something against the disturbing behavior of their child. Sometimes parents feel overchallenged by their child and try to blame the teacher or the school.20

These aspects bring up different consequences that also happen unconsciously. Parents from the upper middle-class take an active part in the communication between them and the teacher and participate in open school days and show a general interest in their children’s education.21 This confirms the teacher in his position and his work and will definitely influence his behavior towards the student. In contrast the parents from the working class do not participate often and tend to be less active and not well-languaged.22 This shows the teacher a social distance between the parents and him and he finds it harder to identify with their social status.23 Even if teachers feel close to parents they only tend to decide to their benefit, if they can identify with their values, which makes it more difficult for student with parents from the working-class, who are often clumsy in contact with the school and teacher.24

Another problem is, that the teacher role inherits a powerful position, because he or she can decide about the student’s success or failure, which makes the teacher to a possible opponent of interest for the parents.25 Grades provide the process of selection and many parents react in an offensive way, if their child does not have the expected success. Teachers often react distrustful and upset, because they are disappointed of the lack of support by the parents.26 Parents only tend to criticize the teacher and blame him to be judgmental, if the student doesn’t show the desired grades.27 This is of course a dilemma, because studies prove that grades are not an effective method to measure the student’s effort and output, but the teacher has to have a reliable instrument to measure the student’s works.


1 Grace: Role conflict and the teacher, p. 2.

2 Cf cit. p. 3.

3 Cit. p. 4.

4 Cf cit. p. 2.

5 Cf cit. p. 3.

6 Cf Grace: Role conflict and the teacher, p. 3.

7 Grace: Role conflict and the teacher, p. 6.

8 Cf cit. p. 14.

9 Cf Lange-Garritsen: Strukturkonflikte des Lehrerberufs, p. 20.

10 Cf cit. p. 20.

11 Cf Combe: Kritik der Lehrerrolle, p. 211.

12 Cf cit. p. 211 f.

13 Cf Combe: Kritik der Lehrerrolle, p. 212 f.

14 More in the sense of a child care worker

15 Cf Combe: Kritik der Lehrerrolle, p. 212.

16 Cf Lange-Garritsen: Strukturkonflikte des Lehrerberufs, p. 21.

17 Cf cit. p. 85.

18 Cf cit. p. 86.

19 Cf cit. p. 86.

20 Cf cit. p. 90.

21 Cf Combe: Kritik der Lehrerrolle, p. 214.

22 Cf cit. p. 215.

23 Cf cit. p. 215.

24 Cf cit. p. 215.

25 Cf Lange-Garritsen: Strukturkonflikte des Lehrerberufs, p. 72 f.

26 Cf cit. p. 73.

27 Cf cit. p. 74.

Excerpt out of 10 pages


Teacher in a role conflict. A focus on parents
University of Frankfurt (Main)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
teacher role conflict parents focus
Quote paper
Nicky Jan (Author), 2015, Teacher in a role conflict. A focus on parents, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/488850


  • No comments yet.
Read the ebook
Title: Teacher in a role conflict. A focus on parents

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free