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How to get along with your child's teacher

Tips from a teacher on dealing with the "other adult" in your child's life

by Amy Estes  |  19946 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

6) Be reasonable if there is a legitimate concern.  If you’ve followed the suggestion above and talked to the teacher and still cannot come to a resolution you find acceptable, than inform the teacher that you’d like to speak to their administrator.  A little secret: the principal does not ALWAYS observe the teacher at hand.  In fact, there is almost always a Vice Principal who is a teacher’s direct supervisor.  That is the person you want to speak to.  Calmly explain to the teacher that you want to set up a meeting with them, the administrator, and if you feel it appropriate, your child.  Do not blindside the teacher by showing up unexpectedly, demanding to observe their class right that instant, or expecting that the teacher can take time out of the middle of the school day to discuss your child.

7.)  Have your child speak to us.  This tip is especially for students older than about third or fourth grade.  If they -- or you -- are concerned about their grade, tell your child to come see us BEFORE you get involved.  Nothing chaps my hide more than entering a parent meeting to see a student who thinks nothing of flapping their gums during silent reading or writing sitting stoically in the principal’s office with their parent, waiting to have THEM ask me why their kid got an F on their assignment.  If your child needs help, have them ask us on lunch or before or after school.  If they don’t understand a grade, discuss it with them and arm them with mature, well-thought out, specific questions to ask us about why their grade is what it is.  But please, please, PLEASE don’t fight your student’s battles for them.  Ask them to have us clarify, and if you’re still not satisfied, contact us.  Often times, we can explain something to the student that they may have missed, or help them earn a higher grade.  This way, you don’t have to be involved at all, your child’s relationship with their teacher improves and they learn how to handle their own issues.  Win-win-win.

8.) Remember that your child is NOT always an angel.  Parents, this may be tough to swallow, but you know that sweet, angelic little cherub you birthed and love to bits?  Um, they may not always be so adorable when they are away from you.  I caught a student writing a very obscene and just plain nasty note last year, and even when presented with the evidence, her mom didn’t believe it was her and was sure her daughter was “framed” and that I had some vendetta against her child... until she caught wind of her inappropriate MySpace and saw some other notes in her daughter’s day planner.  Oops.  The good news?  Most of us teachers believe that kids are good at heart, and just need a little help along the way.  We don’t want to see your child fail any more than you do.  If we report bad behavior, it’s usually out of concern, not genuine dislike.  We aren’t going to brand your child a loser and think less of them.  You get a different side of your child at home, and we get a different side of them at school.  

About the Author

Amy Estes has been teaching English for several years in the Sacramento, CA area. When she's not lesson planning or grading papers, she loves time with her boyfriend, reading, writing and coffee.

Read more by Amy Estes

4 comments so far...

  • But I'll add to my post from last year; she wouldn't take that woman's class again. Just like I didn't take my 9th grade teacher when he came up again in 11th. I was told the other class was full so I DID drop out of the honors program; for about a month.
    I was pulled out of English during that time more than once to "talk" with my guidance counselor about it. I was firm. Calm, but firm. Finally they found space for me in the full class (I had the teacher for a different subject and based on my work there over the month he was fine with having me in his English class as well). And I moved without incident. But no way was I voulntarily repeating a horrible experience and no way my child will either.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 15th September 2010

  • I totally understand what both of these parents are going through, My son's first day was uncomfortable, his teacher did not introduce herself she had a angry look on her face like she did not want to be there. Also she was pregnant and she was just disgusted looking at the students.I tried to pull my son out her class immediately.It did not work out and she saw my disgust and we were unpleasant to each other on the first day what a disaster. T.Woods

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by NYCMOM1 on 11th September 2010

  • I agree that teachers must be respected, but they are not perfect or infallable. I have had very uncomfortable and bortderline aggressive encounters on the elementary level with teachers for both of my children. One child is quiet, beautiful and enrolled in the gifted and talented program. The other is a little rambunctious, but still a sweet natured little boy. I have found that with three of these teachers, if I dare ask a question regarding any decisions made, I am met with a very harsh and sarcastic tone that is completely unwarranted. I feel they have a policy to meet any disagreement with coming down hard and ready to intimidate. After all who am I, and what am I going to do about it. They have a principal to back them up and who do I have? I just have to stay up night after night worrying about how to stradegize the best way to look out for my children without pissing off some teacher who can try to take it out on them later. I don't feel too bad for you. YOU signed on for it and if you didn't expect for people to look out for their kids, maybe should have chosen not to work in this field. I have a very hard time trying to understand how I, as a reasonable person who writes the checks, volunteers three times a month to work can never get on a field trip or be invited to read a story to the class. I have also had my child dismissed to me after field day injured and no note or calls. I've also heard from your fellow teachers that yes, teachers can be mean to the kids when their parents complain. I'm not sure you could begin to understand what goes through the mind of a stressed worried parent when all you have is your boyfriend , your reading, and your coffee.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by ruthanne on 24th May 2010

  • #10 is good advice though sometimes you do have to change teachers. I had a horrible 9th grade year, tried everything with a teacher who made it clear that I didn't belong and there was nothing I could do to improve except try to figure it out, with no assistance from him (it was an honors class and while I tested in, I was the only kid who hadn't been in an honors class before). He was an out and out bully and while I managed to survive and get a B- (which was treated like an A- in regular class) I swore I'd rather drop honors than deal with him again.
    This past year my daughter actually had a teacher who openly disliked her, it was clear to ANYONE who talked to the teacher how she really felt about my kid. But this year she can learn the lesson about some people, no matter what you do, won't like you but you have to deal sometimes.
    BUT, if she had a teacher like that in 7th grade I'd yank her, even if it meant taking a sabattical and home schooling because in our city, a bad 7th grade means you don't get into a good high school. So we couldn't have that "suck up and deal" mentality then.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 28th July 2009