Teacher Trouble: Stepping in when your child is struggling

by epi on September 7, 2012

Q: My son’s new teacher is tough, and I think his papers are being unfairly graded.  What should I do?

A: This depends on your son’s age.  If he’s 11 or younger, call the teacher to discuss her expectations and what your son can do to meet them.  Ideally, set up an in-person meeting (chatting over the phone is better than nothing, but e-mail is not a good idea).

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Winifred Rosenburg September 7, 2012 at 9:07 am

I agree with EPI, but I would like to add that even if you think the teacher is grading unfairly and are going to try to talk to teacher into grading more fairly I think it’s important to not tell your child that’s what you’re doing. A lot of young people now are extremely argumentative with their teachers. They go into the classroom with the mindset that if the teacher doesn’t give me good grades I’ll just argue until my grades are changed rather than wanting to earn good grades by doing what the teacher asks. They learn this behavior from their parents. When parents complain on behalf of their children to teachers, children learn that complaining is the way to get your way (then they grow up and think if they complain in retail stores they’ll get a discount). This mindset makes it difficult for even the best teachers to get through to their students. Telling children “those who can’t do teach” doesn’t help either.

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Chara September 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

I completely agree! I taught middle school and had frequent issues with a particular student who refused to follow direction. After a few conferences with his mother I realized a few things. He was telling Mom that he was being treated unfairly and she believed him because she was taking what she saw and what he said at face value. However, she didn’t have whole story. When the class was given direction he was constantly wanting to follow about 2/3 of the direction. Part of it was simply not listening and part of it was his age and some personal issues. When Mom realized that she didn’t have the whole story we got to work together to get her son back on track.
Go in asking questions first- try to understand why she’s grading the way she is. There may be reasons why your child is being graded so hard that you aren’t aware of.
Also, this is a great opportunity, particularly if you have an older child, to teach them how to deal with difficult situations. It’s a rare skill for a child to be able to question authority in a respectful manner, but it is a crucial one for adulthood.

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Chara September 7, 2012 at 11:26 am

“If you don’t believe everything you hear about me, I won’t believe everything I hear about you.” Good philosophy to keep in mind when parents are working with Teachers.

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Joanna September 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Is the parent friendly with any of the other children’s parents? I would try asking around in a casual way to try finding out if others have similar complaints. If they do, I would approach the teacher to discuss the subject; if not, then I’d come to the conclusion the problem is my own child, not the teacher.

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Lionel September 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

How do you address invitations to or insert a comment with the invitations to an event stating, “No children may attend”?

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Elizabeth September 9, 2012 at 9:53 am

It is technically not necessary to do this. For a wedding invitation, the only people who are invited are those to whom it is addressed. However, you may be referring to less formal invitations, perhaps to something like a house party. For something like that, the invitees may be genuinely confused as to whether the party will include families or is just adults-only. In this case, I would use a phrase a bit more upbeat – “This party is adults only – tuck the kids in, and come by for some fun!” Or, if you want to play it straight, simply place (Adult-only event) in small-ish font near the RSVP information.

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Chocobo September 11, 2012 at 9:44 am

You simply address the invitations to the people who are invited, no matter what the event is — BBQ, wedding, or dinner party. Anything else would be aggressive and off-putting. If someone has the gall to R.s.v.p. with extra guests, large or small, be friendly and cheerful while you say: “Oh, I’m so sorry, maybe it wasn’t clear on the invitation but this time the party is just for the adults. Are you still able to come?” It is a pain to deal with, but you’re more likely to keep your friends that way than by essentially putting a large “KIDS KEEP OUT” sign on your invitations.

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Alicia September 11, 2012 at 9:58 am

I totally agree with Chocobo. Also do not feel guilty saying No if asked by some guest if they can bring their kid. Just say no.

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