When Your Child and Their Teacher Don't Get Along
When Your Child Has A "Bad" Teacher
Teachers can make all the difference in how your child performs at school. A teacher can foster a love of learning, they can create an environment of success and they can teach with passion and a respect for all of their students. Teachers can also make a school year miserable. They may expect too much from their students, or be too rigid in their rules. Sometimes, personality clashes will hinder a child's learning. All of us have had experiences with a teacher that we just didn't get along with or we just didn't seem to learn much from. For children with ADHD, the teacher can increase their chances for success during the school year or create tension and stress throughout the year.
Sometimes, however, as parents we don't know exactly what the problem is. We may see grades drop or our children may begin to develop headaches or stomach aches, asking to stay home from school. Our children may come home and tell us they don't like the teacher or that the teacher is mean.
As parents, our first reaction may be to lash out at the teacher. Before jumping to conclusions, take some time to find out exactly what is going on.
- Keep in mind a child's perspective is not always accurate. When your child comes home and states their teacher is mean, see if you can find out more specific information. Was the teacher mean or did the teacher correct your child's behavior? Keep in mind that it is a child telling what has happened and there is always a second side to the story.
- Ask your child specific questions and get in the habit of taking time each day to talk about what went on in school. Rather than discussing the teacher in a negative way and thereby tainting your child's view of their teacher, ask questions about what they learned, about projects they are working on, about their friends. Talk about teachers in a general way and give your child ample opportunity to expand on each teacher. The teacher that is "mean" may simply be stricter than other teachers. Possibly, your child had a favorite teacher last year and they are not satisfied with anyone else.
- If possible, offer to volunteer in the classroom so that you can see first hand how the teacher interacts with the students. If it is not possible, you should still be able to request to sit in the classroom (although for an older child, this might be terribly embarrassing and for a child with ADHD this might be extremely distracting.)
- If you feel there is a definite problem, set up a meeting with the teacher to discuss your concerns. Go into the meeting with the attitude that you are partners with the teacher in providing the best education for your child. Let the teacher know that you are concerned about your child's response to school and give examples. If your child has suddenly developed stomachaches in the morning, let the teacher know and explain that this has not happened in the past. Let them know that you are there to find a solution and are looking for their perspective on the situation. Don't go into the meeting ready to attack the teacher.
- After you have met with the teacher, if you are still concerned and feel that there is a problem with the teacher, talk with the principal. This is the teacher's boss and they are the one that will be able to help solve the problem. Document any information you may have such as specific incidents that may have happened. Ask the principal to look into the matter. If necessary, you can talk with the principal about having your child change teachers.
- You can talk with other parents to find out if any of the other children are also expressing dislike of a certain teacher, however, you need to be cautious that you are not seen as someone spreading rumors about a teacher or creating more problems by gossiping with other parents. If you are friends with other parents, quietly discuss your concerns and ask for their feedback. Don't feed into gossip.
- Talk with your child and let them know that sometimes they will have teachers they do not get along with or that a teacher will not always act the way they think they should. Let your child know that sometimes, as adults, we have bosses that we may not get along with, but we still must complete our work each day. They also must complete their homework and follow classroom rules. Maybe there is a specific classroom rule that your child is having a problem with. Find out rules and expectations of the classroom and help your child to understand the rules.
Sometimes, no matter what you may do, the teacher and your child just may not get along well. They might just have different views and not be able to find a middle ground. If you have exhausted all other ideas and still don't see much progress, decide if you feel the environment is detrimental to your child's learning. If so, speak with the principal about changing teachers. If not, help your child make the best of the school year and remember that school years do end.