Most of the time, the teachers our children have for the year are wonderful. Interesting and informative, caring and encouraging, firm but fun. But we all know the small minority of teachers who don’t fall into that category. You know, that one teacher you’re secretly hoping and praying your child doesn’t get. And that sick, dreaded feeling you get when you hear that teacher has your child…
Here’s my lessons to learn from the teacher you loathe:
1. Accept the things you do not like. Although there are those rare circumstances when parents can request a classroom change, in most schools it isn’t done. There are times we just need to accept it. You never know, we might be pleasantly surprised.
2. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Whatever we have heard/seen/read about this particular teacher, it may be wrong. Then again, it could also be right. But let’s give the teacher a chance. Innocent until proven guilty…
3. Pick your battles. Now, let’s say this teacher is ‘proven guilty’ and is just as bad, or if not worse, than you imagined. Perhaps far too strict, not strict enough, has a vendetta against your child, puts no effort into teaching, or is just downright weird. If you’re in the Principal’s office every day complaining about the teacher, it won’t be long before the Principal pegs you as a problem parent – unless, of course, the issues are serious, then, by all means, they must be voiced.
4. Teach your child how to cope with people they don’t get along with. Having a difficult teacher for a year is a helpful life lesson for your child in learning how to deal with people they don’t like, especially those in
authority. Teach your child to still obey the teacher and respect their authority even when they don’t like or respect them as a person.
5. Talk, talk, talk. Communicate with your child everyday. Ask them how their day was, what was their favourite part and least favourite part. If your child raises any issues relating to the teacher, talk these through with your child. Demonstrate appropriate responses your child can use with his/her teacher, sharing their point of view in a respectful manner.
6. Don’t talk negatively about the teacher in the presence of your child. When discussing the issues with your partner and friends, ensure you simply state the facts in the presence of children. I believe your opinions and negative experiences of this teacher should be shared privately with your partner and friends. This way, you are modeling respectful speech and civil behavior to your child, especially since they know you are discussing a person with whom you have difficulties.
7. Discuss major issues with the teacher directly. When you have picked your battles and decided there is a serious issue (or more) to discuss with the teacher, arrange a time to meet privately. If you feel the issues warrant the presence of the Principal or Deputy, inform them of the meeting and your desire for their attendance. Make sure your partner can also attend to give you the support you need. Have a clear plan of what you want to discuss.
8. Avoid accusations. Remember to use ‘I Statements’ to assist conflict resolution. When you… I feel… Rather than You always speak so unkindly to the kids. This helps to focus on the affect a certain behaviour has had on your child, rather than throwing accusations and blame for the negative behaviour itself.
9. Know when to call it quits. Although quite uncommon, there are times the clash between teacher and student could cause serious problems for your child. Their emotional stability, confidence and self esteem is crucial. So, if you feel that your child is too negatively impacted by this teacher’s influence, you may need to insist on a classroom change or even transfer to a different school, depending on the severity. Our children and their wellbeing is our number one concern.
10. Maintain a sense of humour. By continuing to laugh and make jokes during difficult times, you are teaching your child resilience. Your child will learn that, in spite of a problem, they can still look on the bright side and experience good and positive things in the midst of it.
At the end of the day, we would all like to be treated well. As the old proverb says, ‘Do to others as you would have them do to you.’ Let’s give those difficult teachers the benefit of the doubt. After all, we all hope they will give our children the benefit of the doubt, too!