Many years ago, as a young grade school student, one of my children was assigned to a be in the classroom of a very popular teacher. As the year progressed, I had many occasions to interact with this teacher, and on each occasion I came away with a slightly sick and confused feeling. The teacher had a way of speaking to me that caused my jaw clench and the back muscles in my neck tighten. And I interacted with this teacher quite a bit, as I was a mom volunteer on several major events. My daughter, on the other hand, loved this woman and everything that went on in her classroom. She was an extremely happy child and loved this teacher throughout the year.
Can anyone relate to this story, yet? Well things actually got worse. A situation arose where the teacher said something to my daughter that did not sit well with my husband or I, and at the time we had a friend on the school board, who we called, who then called the principal, who then called the teacher and things were rather uncomfortable for a few weeks.
Why am I reliving this embarrassing drama? Because I would be the first to say that we mishandled this situation from start to finish. Hopefully, outing my mistake can help other parents who are facing a similar dilemma. So here are my tips to dealing with "difficult" teacher situations:
1. Don't dis the teacher in front of any of your children, ever.
2. View your relationship with the teacher as distinctly different than your child's because it is...it is a relationship between two adults and has nothing to do with the day to day experiences your child is having.
3. If you have an issue with the teacher, take it up with the teacher. It is the mature and respectful thing to do. Would you want someone with an issue about you to go straight to your boss? If you are worried about repercussions, ask another professional to sit in on the meeting with you.
4. Let minor things go, only get involved if something is major. Will this problem still be a major problem two weeks from now? If not, let it go.
5. Go into the meeting with the attitude that you are looking to increase understanding and common ground, rather that to "win".
6. Don't poison your child's attitude about the teacher, a year is an awfully long time to have to suffer through a poor relationship.
7. Remember that there will be loads of adults involved in teaching your child throughout the years. Learning to deal with different personalities and persevere when the going gets tough are life long lessons for your child...and for you.
8. Don't make your first step to call your friend on the school board.
9. Try to always take the high road, and give the teacher the benefit of the doubt.
10. Remember this too shall pass. Don't embarrass your child with your actions.