Don’t judge teachers based solely on student complaint

No parent wants to subject their children to teachers who hurt their self-esteem.  But it’s far too common for parents to jump to conclusions when their children complain (“When You Think Your Child’s Teacher Is a Bad Fit,” The Wall Street Journal, Sep. 16).

Although a bad fit can occur at any age in a child’s education, it’s usual most difficult to evaluate when children are in elementary school because they often misinterpret what a teacher says to them.  When I was in elementary school, my mother always took the side of the teacher when I complained.  That is so rare today.

The best advice when children manifest physical and/or emotional signs is to request a conference with the teacher.  The teacher may be totally unaware of the situation.  If the conference doesn’t improve matters, parents can then go to the principal as a last resort.

(To post a comment, click on the title of this blog.)

 

2 Replies to “Don’t judge teachers based solely on student complaint”

  1. Another option — before going to talk to the teacher or in addition to talking to the teacher — is getting some feedback from one or two other parents whom you know at least in passing + whose kids are in your kid’s class and whom you think are relatively functional kids. If the other parents report that their kids also have concerns re the teacher, then when you talk to the teacher and/or principal you might be a bit more assertive. If the other parents report that their kids think the teacher is great, then when you talk to the teacher and/or principal you might be a bit more flexible.

    This is an area where it would be very helpful for schools to allow/encourage parents to occasionally sit in to observe a few hours of a typical school day (as a way to obtain info generally, not as a way to investigate a particular problem). I did this each year (one day/year) for each of my two kids from kindergarten through eighth grade (when my kids pulled the plug). Cleared it with the principal in advance and the teacher(s) knew I’d be observing. Just sat in the back and said nothing at all during the class. Gave me a much more informed view of what my kids’ school days were like + of the relative strengths/weaknesses of each teacher. For what it’s worth, my impressions sometimes lined up well with the parent network “line” on a particular teacher and sometimes were completely inconsistent with that “line”. Also for what it’s worth, my impressions of a teacher’s strengths/weaknesses usually matched up pretty well with my kids’ impressions of the teacher.

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  2. Labor Lawyer: An excellent idea! Moreover, it would be a reminder to students that their parents are deeply involved in their education. My mother often requested a meeting with my teachers to see how I was doing. It impressed on me the importance of taking school seriously.

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