Mark, I am into the second week of the program and have made some progress with my son. However, he has a teacher that seems to have the ability to reverse in one 45 minute class period what took me 3 days to accomplish. It frustrates the hell out of me. About a month ago my son had a hernia repair operation and missed one week of school to recover. That seems to be where things started to break down. She failed to send his assignments like the other teachers did and gave him zeros on the assignments he missed. I have lodged several complaints with the school about this. In short, there seems to be constant tension between the two. She calls me almost daily complaining about misbehavior in her class and sends him to the principal's office. Here are some of the "offenses" he has committed that results in him getting put on detention. "He rolled his eyes at me." "He gave me a funny look." "He wouldn't answer a question when called on."
Mark, he has no problems with any of his other teachers and is doing quite well in his other classes. I believe he feels like he is getting picked on by her and singled out. I have asked the school to move him to another class. However, they so far have refused. I certainly don't want his problems in her class to affect his other classes and desperately am trying to find a solution. He is very upset about this class. Any suggestions? Thanks, R.
If you think there may be a problem between this teacher and your son, here's a plan of action:
Gather the facts— Try to remain objective and open-minded. If there is a problem, don’t immediately assume that it is entirely the teacher's fault; it could be a problem with your child or the school. If your school or teacher will allow it, sit in and observe what goes on in the classroom. If parent observation is not permitted, talk with other parents to see if their children are having problems. Also talk with parents whose child had this teacher in past years to determine if there is an ongoing problem.
Document the problems— Write down the times and dates of incidents of a teacher's inappropriate behavior. If other parents are noticing problems, ask them to do the same.
Call or meet with the teacher— Schedule a face-to-face meeting if you feel a phone call won't resolve the problem.
Approach the teacher as a professional and an ally— Avoid a confrontational attitude and stick to the facts. Try to stay clear of personal criticism. Focus on classroom practices, curriculum and what you feel your child needs. Once you have had a conversation with the teacher, give him the opportunity and a fair amount of time to improve the situation.
Follow the school's policy— Your school should have a policy on teacher-parent disagreements. Ask what the policy is and follow it. Give this process time to work.
Contact the principal— If you don't see any progress after a few weeks, take your concerns to the principal. But be aware that it is always better if you can resolve the problem without involving the principal. Once you involve the principal, you cross a line, and your relationship and your child's relationship with the teacher will be forever changed.
Contact the district superintendent— If you still haven't resolved the problem after speaking with the principal, contact the district superintendent. Ask what the district's policy is on evaluating teachers and how teachers are assigned to schools in the district. Gather other parents with you who are concerned about the teacher. Realize that this process takes time and may not end in a quick solution, but there is hope if you are persistent in working with other parents and continue to voice your concerns.
Mark Hutten, M.A.