Teen Parenting Expert’s Tip of the Month – July

Difficult Teachers: How to Deal
By Barbara McRae, MCC

Most teachers chose their field because they really wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. The best not only want kids to learn their lessons and complete their homework, they also want to contribute to their students’ future success. But there is so much more going on at school behind the grades on the report card.

When hearing complaints from kids, parents often fall into one of two camps: either they automatically take their kid’s side or that of the teacher. Follow these tips instead.

Get the Entire Story
There are always two sides. Use your parent coach communication tools to get at what really happened. To do this well, remember to stay calm to keep from over-reacting. It will help you to distinguish between what’s the teacher’s responsibility and what is the responsibility of your child.

Focus on the Solution
Determine whether this situation is one that your child can handle with your guidance or if you need to get directly involved. Keep in mind that in most interactions each person contributes to the situation.

Develop a Game Plan
Whether your child feels ready to handle the situation or he or she wants you to be an advocate, plan your approach together. It strengthens your relationship and provides a valuable learning opportunity for how to handle difficult people they’re likely to encounter.

During this process you can help your kids cultivate better relationships with all of their educators. They appreciate it when their students…

~ are prepared for class by having completed their assignment and show their interest in the subject by asking well thought out questions

~ are polite, respectful and show their appreciation. Teachers rarely get recognized for the long hours they spend in the classroom and at home correcting papers

~ ask them for their advice on how to do even better in class; then apply it going forward

On the other hand, some teachers turn their students off. They are quick to point out mistakes and even harp on them. When feedback fails to be constructive, a student’s level of confidence will wane. In extreme cases, some teachers repeatedly ridicule certain kids in their classes.

We’ve heard quite a few stories in the news lately, instances when a teacher really crossed the line with one of their students, and the outrage was felt across the country.

If you’ll be talking with the teacher, guidance counselor and/or principal, here are some things you can do to prepare for your meeting.

Review your Talking Points
Describe the situation based on the information you currently have from your child’s viewpoint. Don’t bring up any rumors about what might have happened to other classmates. If you believe other kids are experiencing similar situations, network with their parents and encourage them to bring it to the teacher or to the school’s attention.

Show up with an Open Mind and be Respectful
Be willing to listen to another viewpoint and make reasonable requests. Use a professional tone. If you feel that the meeting isn’t going well, refuse to get into a shouting match. Terminate the meeting to reassess your next step.

Keep a Log
If your teen is doing all he or she can but continues to have problems with the teacher, record the facts and date of each incident. You will need these records to prove that the problem is ongoing and that it has not improved. It will also make it easier to remember the exact details
of each incident if you write it all down right after it happens.

Take it to the Next Level, if Necessary
If you’re still lacking a satisfactory solution, get the principal involved. If the teacher’s behavior crosses the line into abuse get help right away. Hitting, swearing, ridiculing, and bullying students should not be tolerated. Immediately go to the principal. No student should be in
danger at school.

Dealing with difficult people is part of life. How you handle this situation and yourself can prepare your son or daughter for adult life. In the end, your teen will come out stronger on the other side of it.

My best,

Barbara McRae, MCC
Teen Parenting Expert, Campus Calm

© Barbara McRae

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