3 Great Tips to Handle the Mean Teacher

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Does your child come home dejected and down because the teacher is mean? Most teachers aren't actually mean, but some have different standards than others. More likely, the mean teacher is not acting out of spite, but is creating an environment for classroom expectations.

Throughout your child's education career, your family will likely encounter many teachers of all personality types. Some are mellow and easy going, while others seem to be strictly business. There is nothing wrong with having a demanding teacher. High expectations, attention to detail and strict rules are a part of the work force your child will join one day.

1. Start at home: Teaching your child to cope with a demanding teacher starts at home. First and foremost, parents should not take a negative attitude toward the teacher. Nor should a parent critique or complain about the teacher in the child's presence.

Explain to your child that the teacher is setting out rules that everyone in the class must follow. It's a good idea to use examples from home. Brushing teeth, cleaning up toys, even getting dressed are part of the order at home. At school, the need for order is even more important, so raising hands, putting books away and not talking to classmates is part of the classroom order.

2. Get Specific Details: When your child expresses negative opinions or states the teacher is just plain mean, dig a little deeper. Find out exactly what it is that your child considers “mean”. It could be the teacher scolded your child for whispering or took away a toy. Help your child put these actions into perspective by explaining why the teacher had to take action.

Primary school students especially, often get over excited in the classroom. They also tend to take reprimands quite personally. Helping your child understand that all students are expected to behave in a certain manner will take the sting out of a reprimand and prevent your child from holding a grudge.

3. Meet with the Teacher: Set up a short meeting with the teacher to open the lines of communication. Most teachers welcome parental support, so this is a perfect opportunity to discover exactly what the teacher's expectations are. The sooner you establish this link the better, since you don't want your child to be the one who is constantly disrupting the class.

Once you are aware of the teacher's expectations, this can be reinforced at home. For example, if your child's teacher frowns upon not raising a hand for answers, give your child a gentle reminder in the mornings. “Remember to raise your hand if you know the answer”. Kids are forgetful, which is why they crave routine. These reminders (they shouldn't be scolding), are a good way to help your child develop a solid classroom behaviour routine.

When to Seek Intervention:

If you honestly feel that your child is being mistreated by the teacher, or your child starts objecting to going to school, it's time to seek intervention.

Set up a meeting with the principal and the teacher to discuss your concerns. Try to avoid accusations or statements that will cause the teacher to become defensive. Instead, state that the teacher's current methods are not working for your child. It's important to provide a list of alternative solutions. For example, you can explain that scolding your child in front of the class is counter productive and the child will only become rebellious, and then recommend an alternative solution. (Pulling the child aside before recess, a note home to parents etc).

Again, keeping the lines of communication open and avoiding confrontation are critical when it comes to creating a productive environment for your child's learning career. Try to keep your cool and explain why things aren't working and suggest what will work. After all, nobody wants a child who dreads going to school, this includes the teacher. Be diplomatic, but be firm, and make sure you follow up on the progress, both with your child and with the teacher.

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