Most of us can name a few amazing teachers who shaped who we are today. The teacher who pushed you to think outside the box, the teacher who motivated you to fulfill your potential, the teacher who inspired you to love learning.
What about the dreadful teachers in your past?
What do you do when your child has a monster teacher?
The school year will seem very long if your child hates his teacher.
How can you help?
Get the scoop.
Start with a conversation with your child. Find out what’s really going on: is there truth to your child’s complaints, or is she just following along with peer pressures and what her friends think about the teacher?
Are your child’s marks suffering? Is her attitude towards school on a downward spiral? Investigate, through chat, some specific examples of difficulties your child is having.
Be a good listener.
Listen to and validate your child’s feelings. It’s difficult for anyone to spend many hours each week with a mean person. This can be very hard for a child to endure. Describe a situation in your life when you clashed with an authority figure — and how you handled it.
Reminisce about the teachers he has loved in the past. Emphasize how fortunate your child was to have had a full year with a teacher he loved. Point out that the year will end. This relationship is not forever!
When your child comes home from school, ask how his day was, without judgement. Don’t lecture your child. Don’t try to fix the situation!
Make a plan.
If there are specific issues arising in the classroom, make suggestions about how to behave in the future. Empower her to self-advocate. Remind her to respect adults, no matter what.
Discuss setting up a meeting with the teacher. Your child will appreciate that you value his concerns and want to be part of the solution. Help your child communicate his concerns to the teacher, if appropriate. In a parent-teacher meeting with your child present, you can observe the relationship between your child and his teacher, first hand. Afterwards, you may be able to share new suggestions.
Move forward and learn. Take it on as a challenge!
Be positive. Offer support when needed. Let your child vent. Focus on the other teachers at school who are special and influential: a coach, a rotary teacher, or the guidance counsellor. Seek support from them if needed: for social, emotional, or academic support.
One bad teacher won’t ruin your child’s chances of going to college. Try not to rescue your child from this unpleasant situation. He needs to endure life’s challenges and experience interpersonal challenges on his own.
Here is a great tip from “Love and Logic Parenting” — I just love it. So I’m copying it:
“By teaching children to get along with a demanding teacher, we also are teaching them how to succeed with a demanding boss. Research has shown employees get along with even the most demanding bosses when they:
Get to work a bit early every day
Show up with a smile and a positive attitude
Listen and follow directions
Work a bit harder than expected
Get along well with other employees and customers.
Kids who learn these skills at home and at school succeed with the most difficult teachers, get better grades, and eventually rise to the top of their chosen occupation.”
When to intervene (this is a LAST resort!)
If your child is losing her love for school and learning because of a toxic teacher-student relationship, then perhaps it’s time to speak with the principal. Make sure you’ve tried to work things out with the teacher first!
If your child’s teacher seems to be taking out frustrations on your child (singling her out, etc), then maybe you should push to have your child moved. Schools rarely move children from class to class after the first day, but if you make a good case, some situations merit a move to another class.
In closing, I’ll steal some more great words from “Love and Logic Parenting:”
“When we follow these tips, we give our kids the gift of knowing they can succeed around all different types of people. Unfortunately, some parents steal this wonderful opportunity by trying to make sure their children’s teachers are ‘perfect.’ Sadly, as adults, many of these children spend their lives being unhappy because other people are ‘mean’ or ‘unfair.’ Don’t fall into this trap! Give your kids the responsibility and self-confidence they deserve.”