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I Really Don't Like My Child's Teacher!

Improving the parent/teacher dynamic for a better school year.


By Jared Haines

I was speaking with a parent recently who in passing conversation told me that they weren't happy with their child's teacher. One of their older children had the same teacher and the parents were unhappy to have her again. They had even gone so far as to send their preferences to the principal prior to the new school year.

When the new year started they were unhappy with where he ended up. And now they both seemed to realize that with ¾ of the school year to go the relationship with his teacher didn’t look like it would improve. It can improve. It takes people on both sides to realize that though it may take one to cause a disagreement, it takes two to solve it.

Step 1. Know that your child’s success depends on all of you. Think of your child’s success as a triangle. Each point represented by you, your child, and his/her teacher. Hopefully you all are working towards the same goal. If the relationship between teacher and parent is hampered then it will impact your child’s year. Open communication and respect should be goals among the adults.

Step 2. Own your role in the disagreement. How did it get to this point? When I say your own role, I do mean yours. If your spouse or someone else from the family has also had communication with that teacher and it hasn’t been pleasant, let because you both have the same goal of seeing your child accomplish all they can. In this email, use one of the things you like about the teacher and include it. them own their role. Focus on what yours has been. Did you send an email that was clearly angry? Were there contentious conversations from previous years that you carried over into this year? Focus first on what you could have handled better at that particular time.

Step 3. Write it down. Write down what you’d like your child to accomplish this school year. Is it academic? Is it personal or emotional growth? Is it both? Spend 5 minutes and write down all of those goals. These are incredible goals and your child will be undergoing such a year of growth in all phases of their life. If you feel hesitant about the relationship you have with their teacher, how will that effect what you would like for your child?

Step 4. What does the teacher do well? I know that you may not like the teacher, either personally or professionally. And for a teacher it is hard to separate the two. As a teacher you have the same curriculum as another same grade teacher but each classroom is different. And each can and will teach in their own way. But every teacher does do something well. They have at least a few strategies that are effective in conveying information. What does your child’s teacher do that you feel is good? Or did your child come home saying, “I loved what we were learning today?” What excited them? Spend another 5-10 minutes and write down at least 3.

Step 5. Write an email! Begin by acknowledging the past. Don’t sweep it under the rug. That wouldn’t be sincere and you have reasons for your own feelings about that teacher. Don’t pretend they don’t exist. Acknowledge only your part though, and that it’s your wish that on behalf of “Sam” it would be good if you because you both have the same goal of seeing your child accomplish all they can. In this email, use one of the things you like about the teacher and include it.

Step 6. Set up a face to face. When you go into this meeting, think about what you want to ask, and better yet the tone of your questions. Ask the teacher what they may need from you? Do they want you to check something off every night? Are your ideas about that different? What do you need from the teacher’s perspective? Would you like more communication regarding behavior? Would you like more notice of poor study habit so that when a bad grade comes you’re not blown away? Do not rehash everything. Simply acknowledge your own things that you could have done differently with the goal of creating a better relationship going forward.

At the end of the meeting, the teacher should know what you would prefer to do to eliminate communication concerns. Hopefully this will pre-empt any problems that might crop up. The teacher on the other hand knows that you want a new beginning. It doesn’t mean not recognizing difficulties however. The more open and honest both sides are, the more your child will thrive during the school year.

Questions? Contact me