First Day of School: Uh-ohohoh

by epi on May 1, 2013

This post originally appeared at my parenting blog The Gift of Good Manners. I will be cross posting some of my favorite content from that blog here at the Etiquette Daily. I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I enjoyed writing them.

It’s the beginning of a new school year. One of the greatest challenges faced by parents is learning that their child is in a classroom with a teacher they really don’t like. The last thing you want is to have your child’s energy and attention diverted from learning and enjoying a whole year of school. Your challenge is to help your child maintain a respectful behavior. That will help them have a good year regardless of whether or not they like their teacher. I encourage respectful behavior in this situation by telling kids:

It’s easy to act respectfully to the teachers you like. It’s much harder to act respectfully to the ones you don’t like – especially if they are not always respectful to you. It’s a real challenge – a test of your ability to be a better person. Follow the guidelines and classroom rules, do your work to the best of your ability and use good manners. Consider this as good practice for the day that may come when you have a boss you don’t like. By using good manners and acting in the ways you know are right, you can be proud of yourself. That will build up your self-respect, and you wind up a winner.

Kids are in school for twelve or more years. There will be teachers they like and teachers they don’t like. There will be the absolute favorite teacher and the absolute worst one. No one has a favorite teacher each of every twelve years. So this is a lesson that must be learned. Help your child through it, encourage activities at school that they really like, reinforce the positive things that happen, and focus on the things your child accomplishes. It may be a more difficult year, but your child will be learning some coping mechanisms that will serve her well all her life.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joanna May 1, 2013 at 9:26 am

I used to work in an Adult Ed program — a good 80% of our students were all of 16-18 years old. A common reason for dropping out of the regular high school was because they “didn’t like” Mr. Smith who taught algebra, or Ms. Jones in English. Even more unbelievably, instead of giving their children a lecture about having to get along with people you don’t like all through life (after all, will you quit a job because you don’t like a co-worker or supervisor?) the parents would tell us they “couldn’t make” the child attend and without a word sign off on the withdrawal forms.

Imagine, then, the shock on many of the teens’ faces when they arrived at night school, only to discover that Mr. Smith and Ms. Jones were also there! In our district, the vast majority of the Adult Ed evening teachers are regular day teachers looking to supplement their income…


Karen May 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I think it’s just as important to teach students to make intelligent decisions about their education. The reverse of your argument, Joanna, could also be stated as, “Will you continue to decide what’s best for them even after they enter college and the workforce?”

At my high school, upon the completion of the first quarter of the year, English teachers gave their students a report of their grades for each of their classes. In 10th grade, I saw that I received a C in my math class. I reviewed all of my previous assignments and exams, every single one of which had received an A. I confronted my math teacher, thinking it to be a mistake, and was told, “I only give Cs and Fs.” Afterward, I met with my guidance counselor but was denied a class change; apparently, “he only give Cs and Fs and all of my work has received As,” was not reason enough. Less than a week later, I heard from another student, with the same counselor, that this counselor had quit. So I made another appointment and met with the new counselor under the guise of wanting to change electives and thereby needing an entire schedule change. It was a gamble, that’s true, and I was even chastised by the new counselor for wanting to change electives this far into the year. Fortunately, I was allowed the change, and I ended up with a different math teacher who taught the same course. She was my math teacher from the year prior and I did exceedingly well in her class both years.

My parents weren’t terribly involved in my schooling so it was up to me to resolve the situation. I managed to keep a pristine GPA which would have been compromised by the teacher I had originally been assigned. Students with more involved parents should be able to turn to them for guidance when they have educational problems. They should be taught risk assessment along with diplomacy.


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