Feel like you hate your child's teacher? Well, you're not alone. I polled my Instagram followers, and 50% of them said they had hated one of their kids teachers before.
If you feel like you are not getting along with your child's teacher or your child is having a hard time in their class, the frustration can feel endless
well, I used to be a teacher, so I'm well versed on being on the other side of this problem. I know what it's like to have a parent dislike you, I've made mistakes that have hurt my relationships with parents and students, and I've watched a lot of my colleagues go through these same problems. I've seen these relationships go downhill and I've seen these relationships recover. So I made this video to help you figure out how to get through this time and what your next steps should be.
I also collected stories from newsletter subscribers that went through some of these same struggles.
Now here's my disclaimer. I'm going to be speaking generally about disliking your child's teacher, or if your child is not getting along with them. I'm not covering the extremes. So if something seriously concerning or dangerous has happened, you need to contact the school or authorities that can help you directly.
So, what do you do if you hate your child's teacher?
I know what you're thinking, wouldn't it just be so easy if you could get your child moved into another class? Well, I mean, yeah, but that's not always going to work. So I'll start here with the dream, and then we can work backwards to other solutions. But first, if this is going on, don't tell your child how upset you are with their teacher. They are the one who has to go in day in and day out and spend hours and hours every day with this person.
You may hate their teacher, but your child may equate that with hating school. And we don't want that.
A lot of times, conflicts with the teacher will start with things that your child's complaining to you about. And if this is happening, absolutely listen to them, love them, help them cope with these situations. But whatever you do, do not agree with them and start adding in your feelings.
This is when the situation will start to become toxic.
Once a child hears from their parents that they don't have to listen to their teacher anymore, that relationship is done.
There's no coming back from that.
Okay, so let's talk about changing classes.
Changing classes is pretty controversial and difficult to achieve. This is a decision that the principal will make, and it's not up to you or the teacher.
Here's the issue. Contacting the principal and going above your teacher's head will make things more contentious. So, you need to really consider how bad this issue is and if you can come back from it. It is generally frowned upon to go over the teacher's head to their principal.
You need to bring this issue up with the teacher before you move it on to somebody that's higher up.
Psychology Today actually wrote an article about this. They said, when parents take concerns about teachers to administrators, it makes teachers feel stressed and resentful.
Okay, but let's say you've already tried to talk to the teacher and it feels like things aren't really getting resolved.
Then maybe it is time to contact the principal. Your point of view here should be, you need help from a mediator. You need help from somebody that knows all the school rules, all the policies, and is just a little bit removed from the situation.
Principals... Dean of students, all of those people that you see in administration, they're actually great mediators. A lot of their job is running meetings between parents and teachers that are having a hard time coming to a solution.
Things might feel a little bit worse before they get better, but it's going to be worth it. It's not a fight, it's just that a lot of angles need to be considered before making such a big decision.
The principal has to consider the overall policy with switching classes. They also have to consider that a lot of parents want to change teachers, and a lot of them are going to be told no.
And this is because they're asking for minor reasons, like having the same teacher that their sibling had, or maybe they want their child in the class that has the pet guinea pig. Because there's so many parents that get told no, the principal has to really weigh what is going on, case by case.
If you do end up switching your child, you also have to consider the angle of the new teacher that's taking on your child. Of course they're going to love them and appreciate them, but it's a lot of work on teachers to take on a new student in the middle of the year.
Their reactions are not your responsibility to sort out. Your job is to take care of your family and advocate for your child.
But, I think it's important to understand these are the angles that the principal is thinking about during this process. If you're told no, it's coming from a much bigger place than you may realize.
And so that leads me into my next suggestion, which is keeping this private. . Don't talk about this situation to other families enrolled in the school. Vent about it and get advice from friends that are outside of the school community instead. And don't send an email to your child's teacher saying you're trying to change them out of their class.
There is no way you could write this email that's going to land well. Let the request stay private with the principal, and if they end up changing, they will break the news and manage the teacher. That's their job, and it's not your battle.
Okay, so how are you going to do this? Number one, talk to that teacher. When given the chance to understand the bigger context of what's happening, the teacher may be able to turn it around.
I think about one time I was coming down too hard on a child. This child was calling out in class a lot, and he was getting in trouble a lot because of it. his mom came to me and let me know it was almost too much trouble. Like the message had been sent and now it just felt to the child like I was harping on it when they were still working on the big skill.
So it gave me the opportunity to come in and build a relationship in other ways and have nice, kind moments together so that he didn't feel like the only interaction he ever got from me was me reminding him to stop calling out in class.
The second thing is, act quickly. If you've decided that this problem is too big, and you want your child to change classes, it is easier on everybody if this happens early in the school year.
Number three. You get more bees with honey. If you're calm, composed, and polite, you'll be heard. If you're coming into this situation shouting, angry, crying, all of the energy is going to be spent on calming you down, and your ultimate concern may not be heard.
Now when you start to advocate for your child, focus on their overall well being, both emotionally and academically. Bring everything back to your child. And also explain if something is going on at home.
Take accountability if your child has been acting out. And in fact, if this behavior is new, use the fact that they're acting out to your advantage.
Which leads me to my next point. If you're really pushing for a new teacher, explain how this could be a fresh start.
I'm thinking back on two different students that I had moved into my class mid year. Both of these babies were having a really hard time with their behavior in the teacher's class and the teachers the parents and the students were really frustrated. In both of these cases, I knew that the kids were great and their teachers were great, but they were just not meshing. By moving into a new classroom, I was able to reset expectations and let them know this was their chance for a fresh start and take extra time to build that relationship. Both those kids ended up finishing the school year strong and being really happy.
But it took strong communication from everybody involved to set me, the teacher, up for success so that I could set their child up for success. If anything, I was at the advantage because I had already seen what strategies did not work on these children, and they got a chance to make that first impression on me.
A lot of kids have what we call a honeymoon period, where they have a month, six weeks, even two months, that they're going to behave well because they're still learning how the class works, and they're trying to make a good impression. I was able to capitalize on this moment to give the children the fresh start that they needed.
Okay, so to summarize here, communication is key, stay calm, and bring everything back to the well being of your child.
Ultimately, it's not going to be realistic to set your goal to change your child's teacher. There's just too many other things at play. But there are a lot of solutions that can overall improve your child's experience at school.
Getting into a meeting can be super helpful. And if you find out somebody like the principal is going to be in the meeting too, I encourage you to invite somebody else.
Whether it's your partner, another important stakeholder like a grandparent, or even just a close friend that can observe from a more neutral point of view.
In that meeting you might explore solutions like moving their seat in class
if you feel the teacher's way of communicating is affecting your child, this is a great chance to explain your child's overall temperament and how things are handled at home.
This next option will depend on availability and the staffing at the school. So I am saying this with a grain of salt. But you might discuss if there's another adult that they trust that can check in on them and just build a relationship on the side. And maybe there's a small group being pulled by a teacher assistant that your child can be a part of.
This gives your child a chance to have other adults that they can build important bonds with and make them feel like they are seen and understood and appreciated by everybody in the building.
When you're in this meeting, the school is likely to explore issues aside from the teacher that are causing these problems. Is your child struggling with academics? Is there a big change that's happened at home? Are they showing signs of anxiety or depression? Are they showing signs of ADHD? Is this a pattern that they've seen from year to year or certain days of the week?
When these things are explored, it may feel like an attack on you. It may feel like they're getting away from the main issue, but these are really important questions to ask. Some issues will go away with a simple fix and others are pervasive. And if you end up meeting again in a few months, it's important to see that there are multiple factors that can lead to issues.
The school is doing their due diligence by asking these questions.
Here are a few things that could unintentionally make the problem worse.
The first is claiming your child is acting out because they're bored. I know you don't mean it. I know you don't mean it, but it is so offensive to teachers it is the quickest way to tell a teacher that you think that they are bad at their job. When you say things like that, not only does it diminish the teacher and insult them, it also doesn't make sense because life can't be entertaining 100% of the time.
There are boundaries on what we can ask teachers to do. And asking them to completely change their teaching style, mandated curriculum, and their general personality is a little much.
Another one, acting like the school is the only one that has to adjust. Your willingness to compromise, problem solve, and take accountability for your child is really important.
I've sat in a lot of really tense meetings where the parents are pointing a finger at us, but no suggestion we gave was taken.
We're a team, and everybody on the team has to pull their weight.
Insisting on a weekly behavior chart, phone call, personal email, whatever. If these things are offered, sure, you can take them up on it. But forcing school employees to take on extra tasks will only breed resentment.
That said, if you want to send your own email once in a while asking for a quick update, go right ahead.
But when you do, try to share something positive that you're observing, or if they ask you to try something at home, how that is going.
And the last mistake parents make is thinking everything will change overnight. It can take a few weeks to see improvements, so even if you are checking in, just give it some time.
And now some advice from my newsletter subscribers. I have a great newsletter that comes out every week with tips on how to support your kids in school. You can sign up at the link below.
Okay, my first advice is from Dee. I had four kids and never wanted to switch teachers until my youngest entered kindergarten. My husband had just left on military deployment and my daughter was struggling. Her personality did not mix well with her kindergarten teacher. I feel that because I never made requests and tried to go with the flow, when I came to the principal with my concern, I was really listened to.
I explained what was going on and that my child hated school and was getting really emotional about going every day. I asked, how can you find me a solution? And the principal decided to switch classes.
Here's some advice from an anonymous newsletter subscriber. I was an assistant principal, and the first thing I would do is set up a meeting. I'd take time to meet everyone and hear their expectations. The goal is to understand enough to work together to support the growth of the student. Communication is everything.
I want everyone to see that this is rooted in caring for the child, and we are all in a partnership together.
We have one from reader J, who said, I got the teacher switched, but I made my husband do it. We all know our partner's strengths.
And the last one is from my mom. I actually recently learned that my mom hated one of my teachers from elementary school. Apparently, this teacher spent her precious parent teacher conference time explaining she was concerned I hadn't let Jesus into my heart. Mind you, this was a public school and I was also really struggling with reading.
So my mom was surprised and offended to see the conversation turned in that direction. My mom was understandably really upset, but she also knew I was really happy in class and I had never complained about her. Ultimately, she decided not to pursue changing me to a different class. But what did she do instead?
She encouraged me to love school. She advocated for me to get extra support in reading. And she talked to me to make sure things at school felt right and safe.
This is controversial. I feel like I would have gone off on somebody.
But I think it's a good example that you can make it work even without changing teachers. The teacher never said anything to me, her student, about religion, and overall I remember it being a positive year.
What I do remember is that I loved that reading intervention program. It was fun, I liked the teacher who did it, and I finally became a confident reader.
Now I want to hear from you. Have you ever had issues with your child's teacher before? Were you able to work them out? Let me know in the comments below.
, make sure you subscribe to Primary Focus. My name's Natalie. Thanks for watching. See you next time.