We all have memories of that special teacher we loved who helped us. She had a smile a mile wide, always treated us with respect, and talked to us. She brought us out of our shyness and helped us reach for the stars. She showed us direction and pointed us to the stars. We will always remember that teacher. But what about the ones we didn’t like?
It’s a fact of life that not everyone will get along, but it can be very difficult for parents when their children complain of not getting along with or not liking a teacher.
Improving Student / Teacher Relationships
So how can you help your child who has a teacher he/she doesn’t like and what can be done about it? Here are a few suggestions:
1. Find out why your child does not like his or her teacher. Ask them how the teacher acts toward them. Are they cold or friendly? What is their teaching style? Strict or permissive? Think about your child’s personality and analyze why the teacher does not get along with your child. This will give you a lot of insight as to how to approach it.
If it is something like the level of strictness and your child is highly creative and doesn’t like structure, consider having a conference with the teacher and ask if they can keep in mind how creative your child is and provide an alternate way for your child to fulfill assignments. Explain that you are not asking for any preferential treatment, but that you want them to understand your child’s learning style and explain that this may be why they clash with the teacher’s methods. Teachers are being trained nowadays to consider a variety of learning styles and teaching methods, so this should come as no surprise to them.
2. Consider how your child’s performance compares to others in the classroom. Sometimes children who perform lower than their peers may feel discouraged. Teachers sometimes do treat them differently too, especially if they think they are not trying their best. (They shouldn’t but it happens.) Talk to the teacher to determine if t his is a factor, but don’t accuse the teacher. This will put them on the defensive. Instead approach it from a “let’s work together to find a solution” attitude and your child’s teacher should appreciate that you want to improve the situation.
3. Encourage your child to be nice to their teacher, or give them something. Sometimes a teacher thinks the student does not like them either, so this is a two-way street. Tell your child to be nice to their teacher, give them a flower, or a poem, or something to show they are being friendly. If your child makes an effort, sometimes the teacher will too.
4. Ask to speak to the principal only if all else fails. The last thing you want to do is to set up a war between your child and his teacher, or between you and the teacher. Going over their head can create a feeling of animosity and make the teacher feel forced into being nicer to the child, and can make things worse. Try to talk to the teacher first and your child and work both sides of the problem to see if that will help. If all else fails and the teacher is adamant that they are doing nothing wrong, you may need to call for reinforcements.
If you do ask for a conference, make sure you make it clear to the principal that you do not wish any ill will toward the teacher, but that you are concerned about the situation and understand that a positive relationship between the teacher and student are important in order for your child to succeed.
It is possible the three of you can come up with a plan to improve the relationship over time. It should be based on some sort of contract or agreement between the teacher and student, and both should bend a little to make things better for everyone.
There is never a reason for a teacher to be unfair, unkind, or dismissive of a student. No matter what their problems or challenges, even in the case of a problem child, a teacher has sworn to be fair and caring for each child so that they can better help them. If a teacher cannot listen to reason or try to go the extra mile to help, it is possible the teacher should face disciplinary action from administrators.
But first try the techniques given here, so that you will know that you have exhausted all efforts and remember to remind your child to expect fair and professional treatment from their teachers, and to respond with a positive attitude. If the problems continue, that’s when you should follow the chain of command to get more help with the situation.
Don’t Waste a Year
The teacher-student relationship is too important to waste a school year due to friction or relationship issues between your child and his teacher. Sometimes it is just a personality clash. But find out the reasons as soon in the school year as possible. And if all else fails, ask to have your child moved to another teacher.
- Improving Student Relationships with Teachers… http://www.apa.org/education/k12/relationships.aspx
- 5 Things Teachers Want Parents to Know http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kyle/five-things-teachers-want-parents-to-know_b_3764532.html
This post is part of the series: Adaptation Skills in School
Every child has to navigate both social and academic challenges at school. Find help for common issues facing children today, from text anxiety to dealing with teachers and developing healthy habits.