• Welcome teachers! Log in or Register Now for a free ProTeacher account!

Stupid, stupid mistake!



I've just done something wrong and I can't stop beating myself up for it---only because the parents won't leave it alone.

I incorrectly "corrected" a word on several of my students' spelling tests (They got it right and I marked it wrong.) Turns out, *I* couldn't spell the darn word. I've had 3 parents call to chew me out about it. One is taking the issue to the principal.

That's the last time I grade papers on a weekend morning when I'm still groggy from the night before. I'm a first year teacher and I can barely keep my head above water sorting everything out for myself. Now I'm going to have parents continually watch me under the microscope just waiting for my next mistake.


Senior Member

i can't believe you have parents making a fuss about it!

(as a parent, i would have just sent the test back with a note that read, isn't the word spelled this way?)

it's times like this when i give the whole "i'm only human" speech--we all make mistakes--even teachers! i've also told my class that any time i make a mistake NOT in their favor, i'll fix it if it's pointed out, and if i make a mistake in their favor (missing a misspelled word), i won't dock them.

sorry to hear about your overzealous parents--hang in there!


Dont beat yourself up!

Sorry to hear your parents are making a mountain out of a molehill. Sometimes parents just irritate the crap out of me to put it bluntly.
I would just apologize and plead temporary insanity and say something like: I tell my students that it's OK to make mistakes because no one is perfect -- not even teachers. I hope your principal is standing beside you and understands as well that we are all human and yes we do make mistakes. If teachers didnt have to spend every breathing moment doing school stuff maybe we would be the perfect teachers everyone thinks we should be. Good luck I hope everything settles down.



Wow! Aren't we all human? Don't sweat it! We all make mistakes! I'm so sorry that the parents think you can't make a mistake! Here are some steps that you could take, but before I post them, I want to tell that you didn't make this mistake because you are a first year teacher! We all make mistakes! Even more experienced teachers! Writing words on the board, etc. Just look at this board and see the type-o's and grammar errors of teachers! We're human and make mistakes!

1. First, did you explain to your students that you made a mistake? I hope that they will be understanding about that. Sometimes if you tell them that you made a mistake, it's good because they realize that everyone makes a mistake.

2. Make sure the parents know that you are sorry and that it was an innocent mistake. You didn't do it do be mean or anything like that! Also, what steps did you take after you found out? Did you give them back their point? Make sure the parents know that.

3. Before they go to the principal with something so frivolous, I would let your principal know what's coming. IMO, if your principal doesn't understand, he or she has no clue about anything! He/she should understand because we all are humans and we all make mistakes! If your principal is supportive, he/she will help stand up to the parents!

I'm so sorry that these parents are TOTALLY blowing out of proportion what happened. It's absolutely ridiculous that they don't understand.

Haleigh B.


Some parents really have nothing better to do with their pathetic little lives (some are quite pathetic-sorry). Don't worry about being under a microscope- you will do fine this year, you'll get through it. It's not that big of a deal. I know it's frustrating when you try so hard, and do so much for the kids, and people jump on one little mistake. Someone will realize all the great things you do- rest assured! :)


Senior Member

Those parents need to CHILL OUT! We all make mistakes, right? Don't they have anything better to do than complain about that? Hopefully you have or can talk to your principal about your honest mistake before the parents talk to him/her.

What did you say when they called you? What did you say when the parent told you they were going to call the principal?

I'm sure they're not perfect either! When one of them makes a mistake I'd be thinking, "Ha! And you think you're perfect." I would just apologize, tell them it was an honest mistake that has been corrected, thank them (or not!) for letting you know, and leave it at that. Don't beat yourself up over it! Soon they'll forget about it and be onto the next complaint.


Senior Member
no one's perfect

No one is perfect, so shame on those parents who felt the need to not only point out the mistake, but to chew you out about it. I always make sure the students know that teacher's do make mistakes (that's why we go over the tests together, etc.) and it's not a big deal. I'll usually lighten up the atmosphere by saying, I really should not have let my dog grade those for me, etc. :D Keep your cool and professionalism and don't let the parents get to you. At least you know now that these parents are watching what goes home very carefully, so really monitor what you write on papers. Make sure you speak with your principal about this. If your principal is at all a professional, then s/he will not give this parent the time of day and all will be fine. If your principal makes a big deal of it, then you are REALLY in the wrong school. Good luck and warm wishes your way! :p


read the message posted by wanda and you will understand why it is so hard for parents to think you shouldn't make mistakes because this teacher seems to think her 7 yearolds and their parents shouldn't.

Miss C

Senior Member

Bless your heart! I'm so sorry. Your first year is most definitely your hardest, and now this besides. Cheer up! It will get better and I really feel like your principal will stand behind you. It may get you some "points" back with the parents to send home a cute little note to all of them thanking them for their attentiveness to their children's papers and explaining the mistake. It'll make them feel better and make you the bigger person in the situation. Just an idea. :o) Hope things get better! :o)


Thanks everyone!

I did have a conversation with my kiddos about "being human." They all thought it was funny enough, so maybe the parents will back off a bit.

I don't know if this makes any sort of difference, but I do work in a private school with some very involved parents. So yes, they read everything that goes home. They also want to have a say in everything I do in the classroom. Yes, they're even talking about college (yes, college!) with their 4th graders. These kids are under a tremendous amount of pressure---so is their teacher, unfortunately! :)


just say 'I am sorry"

Say 'I am sorry. I will correct your child's grade." If they keep carping just repeat the same message. Give the kids the 'everybody makes mistakes' speech and tell them that if you do it you will correct the grade in the gradebook when they bring it to your attention. Then try to forget this happened.

Some parents you can never please. I once had a parent call the principal to complain that I was having them read books with spelling mistakes. It turned out that the child (third grade) had taken home one of the dinosaur books on the self selected reading shelf. The book was one of my son's that he had outgrown and I had brought to school. It had been purchased at the British Museum Store and thus had British spellings ('our' for our 'or' -colour). She got even more upset when the principal pointed out that it was a British spelling and said she was going to the school committee because British spelling confused her child. I guess she calmed down as I never heard anymore, but I did remove the books with 'misspellings' for the rest of the year.


New Member
I've done it--how do you spell jewelry again?

This post caught my attention b/c i did the same thing last year as a first year teacher. Late at night, correcting spelling half asleep, i marked jewelry wrong on a student's paper and although he still had a 97, the mother came in about it. She could have just written a note or had the kid ask me but she didn't want to do that. But she didn't just come in about it, she visited the kid's previous year's teacher before stopping at my room after school (my room is first on her route by the way so she walked past my room to go to the other teacher's room!) to ask HER how to spell the word jewelry and made her go through the motions of looking through her classroom dictionary to check it to make sure I was wrong. Although she may have thought nothing of doing this or thought she was doublechecking before she said something to me, it was very awkward as a first year teacher for her to be reporting my error to another staff member instead of just coming to me about it. Luckily, this teacher is the one I am most friendly with and she blew off both the error (b/c we do all make them from time to time!) and the parent's strange way of handling it. She (the parent) also made several 'joking comments' that I must have been up late with my boyfriend or out partying to be tired enough to make such a mistake. (totally uncalled for, untrue, and none of her damn business) Needless to say, I was extra careful with everything I sent home to that household for fear that she would now be examining everything, as you felt, looking for my next mistake. All I can say is let it roll off your back and move on. It sounds like you handled it well with the kids by explaining that we're all human. Sometimes the kids forget that :)



I'd be tempted to create a cute "award" for the most observant and should it ever happen again send the award home to the parent or maybe respond with a great big - YEAH...I was wondering if anyone really looked at the papers!

Honestly, I wish they'd get jobs.....


New Member
Reward them!

I am making more and more errors as I age! Oh, what fun. It proves that I am human!

Learn to laugh at yourself and you are granted a lifetime of humour!

When a student catches me making a mistake, they win 1 Skittle! Proves they are paying attention. And I sure am giving out a lot of Skittles!

To make an error is human,
To ignore an error is a missed opportunity!

Sometimes people want us to be perfect. A 'perfectionist'.
I know the day that I will be perfect.........................the day I die.
After that I cannot get any better!

So until then I will be a "Betterist!" I can always get better than today!
If I want to!
That is the true joy of learning for me!

Teachers do not have to be perfect spellers in my eyes. But boy can I look up a word in the dictionary quickly! A coping skill for my uniqueness!

Katherine, love the kids! It all comes down to this line.

"Send them home happy! Make them want to come back!"

Welcome to a frustrating and rewarding career! Dave


Junior Member
Oh, boy! I TOTALLY understand!

I just had to answer your post with a small vent of my own. I teach a "gifted and talented" class and, as you can imagine, am plagued by parents who consider themselves more intelligent, well-read, and worldly than myself. It irks me that some people seem to consider teachers uneducated (which doesn't make ANY sense) and feel the constant need to try to undermine my knowledge and tell me they've "read the research". Buddy, I have a degree in the research...which you've just quoted incorrectly. The bottom line is that most of us chose this career because it is one of service. It is both honorable and rewarding, in my opinion. So why, to so many, are we the enemy? Why the constant need to prove us wrong?
But I'm getting off topic here. Long story short, I feel the same stress about sending things home, marking work, etc. I feel like every single thing that I write or say is going to be scrutinized. It's to the point that I have another teacher read most of my notes going home, just to make sure that they are worded correctly so that no one will take offense.
Just my feelings, but the most exhausting part of this job is not teaching. It's the constant public relations, self-defense, and justification of our classroom practices that wears me out.
We'll make it! (With good friends to vent to during lunch...and online, too!)



I too work at a private school, and mistakes are made all of the time. Try to look at the positive aspect of having attentive parents, and do as so many posters suggested-laugh it off. Get the kids to laugh, and be sure to show the same grace to the parents and their kids when they make a mistake. If you consistently show common sense, good judgement, and overall proficiency in your job, you will win most of them over. You will almost always have one person (sometimes more) who won't be happy no matter what. They usually have other problems in their lives that color everything they do. They are a pain, but try not to focus on them. You might beat the parent to the principal if you think they will really go there. Tell her/him you made an error in judgement by grading papers when you were too tired to do so. Chances are they will understand. Your students will love you, if they know you love them, and genuinely care for them.
Best wishes.


spelling mistake

Why are parents so worried about spelling? In my school we have changed the grading practice to E/S/N. (I teach 5th) Parents are still so freaked out about spelling words. I had a parent call me at home (I don't give out my home phone) to ask for the spelling words that week because her son forget to bring them home that night. Why don't they worry about math or science? Oh I know because spelling maybe the one thing that they can help with - or it is the easiest subject to get a good grade in. I'm not saying that being a good speller isn't important - but so is adding 2 and 2!

apple annie

Senior Member
Good Eye!

When my kids catch my mistakes - which they do often - I congratulate them and say, "Good eye!" They love to catch me "being human." And I love that they are paying close attention. I would just say "Good eye!" to that parent, correct the grade and go on with my life.