Most people have memories of a beloved teacher who went the extra mile and inspired them to learn every day, but they also usually have at least one horror story of a bitter, burned-out or downright bad teacher who is unhelpful at best, and cruel at worst. It's normal for every profession to have good and bad apples, so it makes sense that there are some rotten teachers in the world.
A terrible teacher can often still teach students many life lessons, but when that teacher is impeding a child's academic progress, something must be done about it. While working with, or even confronting, a problematic teacher is never pleasant, it is important to rectify quickly, for your child's grades as well as their sense of well being.
10 Get The Facts
Whether your child's story is varying from their teacher's, the teacher "has it out" for your child, or something in between, you need to pinpoint exactly what the issue is before taking action. Sit down with your child and discuss the problem in a comfortable setting, without making judgments or interjecting. Ask open-ended questions, take notes and really get to understand the problem.
If you gather that your child is causing a problem in class with unfortunate behavior, forgetting assignments or otherwise serving as part of the issue, you may wish to help enforce better study habits, natural consequences for poor behavior or otherwise assist your child in correcting the problem at home.
9 Avoid Speaking Negatively About The Teacher
If you personally have an issue with the teacher and speak about it in front of your child. Avoid calling the teacher names and using labels on them, and keep your criticism to yourself and other close adults. It's okay to vent with trusted friends, but if your child overhears your comments they may internalize them and unconsciously develop the same opinion about their teacher.
Your own perspective can help your child have a more positive view of the teacher. If there are real problems at hand, they should be addressed, but if it's a matter of perspective. You can help your child learn to change their thoughts by modeling positive ones.
8 Get Extra Help For Your Child
When a teacher is simply not good at teaching, it complicates things. There's no way for you to personally help them become better at teaching, and it's possible that they never will improve. If this is the case, do all you can to help your child succeed by getting as much help as possible.
Work with your child every night to help them understand the material. See if there's tutoring with another teacher available, or utilize the many online videos and programs for various subjects to strengthen your child's knowledge and grades. Do everything you can to give them the best chance of succeeding.
7 Meet With The Teacher
If your child's account of the issue doesn't feel complete, schedule a meeting to ask about what's going on in class. Approach the teacher in a positive, constructive way, and say that you want to help your child succeed. This time, ask the teacher open-ended questions to discover what the issue is from the teacher's perspective.
Chances are that being a proactive parent willing to work with their teacher will help your child tremendously. If the teacher has constructive suggestions, try implementing them to see if it helps to solve the issue.
6 Avoid Being Combative
As a parent, it's easy to get into protective mode when it comes to our children, but this will not serve them well when meeting with their teachers. Avoid combative language, blaming and especially name-calling. Instead of being defensive, explain your concerns in a calm manner, stating the facts.
Explain how you have already been working on the issue, in order to demonstrate solution avenues that you've already traveled down, helping the teacher see how important this issue is and where they can begin to assist you in helping your child perform better in class. If all goes well, you will walk away with some ideas and hopefully make your child's relationship with the teacher more positive.
5 Be Your Child's Advocate
Obviously if your child is causing a problem, you want to get to the heart of it and help correct the issue. But you also need to tread carefully with the teacher to avoid making the issue worse for your child. Instead of making accusations, explain that your child is concerned, for example, that the teacher doesn't like them, or that your child feels as if the teacher is annoyed when they ask questions.
Be specific, but avoid repeating any complaints that your child has issued, particularly in strong language. Always come at the problem from in your child's corner.
4 Observe Your Child's Class
Many schools allow parents to sit in on a class to observe what their children experience at school. Check to see if this is possible so you can get a sense of what is really happening if you still can't get a good picture of what's going on or the teacher isn't being cooperative. If this is unavailable, volunteer in class so you can still get a sense of what the classroom climate is like through other means.
Many classrooms are in desperate need of parental help, whether it's during a holiday celebration or some of the day-to-day operations required for managing 30 children at once, so you may find a way to help out and observe at the same time.
3 Take It To The Principal
If talking to the teacher and implementing new strategies did not work, the teacher was resistant or defensive during your meeting or the teacher refuses to work with you, take your concerns to the principal. Reserve course of a action as a last resort, only for situations when you feel like there is no other solution, as administrators are often protective of their faculty.
Be as objective and calm as you can during your meeting. Use concrete examples and explain what you hope to accomplish. While some principals may help, others may not. Keep in mind that some teachers may even get worse after being confronted by their supervisors.
2 Go Higher Up
Sometimes when nothing changes, we have to deal with a not-very-nice or all-around bad teacher for a year. If the teacher's behavior is of a bullying nature truly hurting your child and nothing changes after you visit the principal, contact the school district superintendent with the issue.
It's possible that you will have to be a squeaky wheel here until changes are made, with multiple phone calls, letters and visits. If your child is having anxiety about attending school over the situation, ask for another teacher, or pull your child out of school and try homeschooling, which is legal in all 50 states, until the problem is solved. If there's truly abusive behavior that's being ignored, take it to the police, and then the media, until it is rectified.
1 Teach Your Child To "Play The Game"
If your child is safe but still stuck with a lousy teacher, make it into a learning situation. Dealing with boring coworkers, people who don't do their jobs well, and generally annoying people is a part of life. If it comes down to that, teach your kid how to play the game.
Share strategies for getting through the day with the teacher, emphasizing how your child can still learn and do their best no matter the situation, and how they can look at it from a positive perspective. Make sure they know you're in their corner, and that they feel loved and supported. At least it's only a person they have to deal with for one year, and it too shall pass.