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mollypop51797's avatar

Teacher troubles! What to do? It's the beginning of the year!

Asked by mollypop51797 (1425points) September 16th, 2010

Ok, my daughter, from the start, met her teacher and did not like him. I have to say, my daughter just knows those things sometimes, so when I doubt her, I usually realize that she was right about the person. The first few days my daughter was on and off about this history teacher of hers. Sometimes she liked him, other times she didn’t. By the end of the week, she had found a disliking to him. On good terms with him, she was hurt from his “jokes”.

The teacher would make jokes poking fun at his students. They would laugh at themselves, but after a while it got old. There are triplets in the grade who don’t look alike. The teacher was having the an open conversation about how he can’t tell the triplets apart (one of the three are in the class) and my daughter added into the convo and jokingly said, “They don’t look alike!”. My daughter had in no way meant to insult him, just join in the loose conversation as everyone else had been doing. Well, he decided to poke fun at my daughter, saying “I love how you get mad at me! I’ve only known them for a week and you’ve known them for years!” And he repeated this almost daily. My daughter claims that the rest of the class was saying the exact same thing she was. So she laughed at herself when he threw that punch line. Then she was getting tired of it because she had never intentionally meant to say it in the way it appeared to the teacher, and had not thought that she would be the class “joke”. During Meet the Teachers night, I went and sat in her classes, and met this history teacher of hers. And in fact, he mentioned, to the whole class of parents “Well, one of my students had yelled at me for not being able to tell the triplets apart! I told her I only knew them for a week, and she knew them for years!” Then he mentioned the student’s name. The parents laughed, but I personally thought that he went too far this time. He did not need to mention this to the class, and personally mention my daughter’s name.

My point being here is that I know, not all teachers are supposed to like you, or your daughter, but in this case I feel that if he’s going to keep singling out my daughter to make fun of her, I don’t know how to handle this without disrespect. Any suggestions? Thanks so much and sorry for the incredibly long long question!

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12 Answers

janbb's avatar

My best advice is that this would be an excellent situation for your daughter to handle. I think she should talk to the teacher and tell him how she feels about what she said and that his joking about it is making her uncomfortable. Then, if she is not satisfied with the way he reacts to her or if he doesn’t change in his behavior, it might be appropriate for you to address the issue, either directly with him or with a counselor in the room. If she can deal with it and get satisfaction, it will be a wonderful learning for her in assertion.

jrpowell's avatar

I had similar problem with a math teacher in high school. I went to the office to speak with the principle. The next day I was in a different class. Problem solved.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Holy. F*ck. Wow, that’s so inappropriate right there. You need to speak with whomever his supervior is – probably a principal or vice-principal. You’re daughter was right to call him out on his (rather strange, if they aren’t identical) joke, and he shouldn’t have made fun of her like that. It’s such a huge warning sign that he told everyone that story at Parent-Teacher night, even without her name. It shows that he doesn’t have an overall ethic about keeping kids confidences and helping them through school.

Tell your daughter I think she was right to call him out on his bulls**t. She sounds awesome.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I think I’m in agreement with @janbb on this. I’m betting that your daughter is going to be up to the challenge of handling this fool. And if he, with his years of experience, saw fit to mention your daughter’s name in front of a roomful of parents who aren’t in on the “joke” (and not much of a joke, either), then he has proven himself a fool.

So “polite” disrespect and antagonism is called for, but it’s going to be up to you to help her do that tactfully, diplomatically, and without risking her academic standing. Have her set up an account here and ask for advice if you’re not always up to handling “how to do that”. You can help her select our better responses.

If your daughter was a small child my advice would be completely different. But I’m getting the sense that she’s a high school student with a brain on her shoulders… and maybe now a chip there, as well. It will be good for her to handle this individual and keep her head, her sense of proportion and her grades while she also maintains her self-respect. I would not suggest asking for a change of teachers at this time; that is an admission of defeat and submission, and it’s too early in the game for that.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Oh, is the child in question older? I was imagining her as, like, 7.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@papayalily I’m just speculating. Most 7-year-olds don’t have “a history teacher”. That kind of subject / teacher differentiation doesn’t usually occur until later in one’s schooling. Not to mention that the kind of give-and-take ‘joking’ (more like Classroom Kabuki) usually doesn’t start until later in Junior High or High School.

janbb's avatar

I was also assuming it was a high school teacher since it is a “history teacher.” If the child is much younger than that, my advice would be different.

Cruiser's avatar

Follow @johnpowell‘s advice…talk to the principal but be prepared to go to the next level above them. You are your child’s advocate and you should not have to settle for mediocrity as it will make all the difference in how your child see’s and experiences school and the long road of academics.

wundayatta's avatar

I was just talking to my daughter earlier this evening about her teacher. She brought it up. Of course now I forget if it was her Spanish teacher or her Algebra teacher. In any case, I asked her if she would like us to do something about this. She declined the offer, saying she had friends in the class and didn’t really want to go to another.

So she’ll put up with a boring teacher who is somewhat disrespectful of the kids—acting as if any of them who don’t know this stuff must be really stupid. It’s algebra. My daughter had algebra in middle school, but didn’t do well enough to test out of it freshman year in high school.

My feeling is to trust my daughter about what is going on and what should be done. I don’t think she would put up with a stupid teacher just for friends. If this teacher was really bad, she’d want to do something about it. She would also probably try to take care of it herself. She’s been dealing with these things since fifth grade, I think. She went to the principal to urge her to put in a dance class. She didn’t get the class, but I think she got a dose of confidence.

I’m not saying this to advise you one way or the other. I’m just letting you know what happened in my family. Or what is happening. :)

mollypop51797's avatar

Thanks all for your support and advice! I truly felt he was stepping out of line by mentioning my daughter’s name and joking about her, and to the other parents, including the mother of the triplets! Hi rude remark made my daughter sound like a bratty girl, which I have not raised my daughter to be. Sorry for misleading some of you, she is 14 years old, a freshmen. @CyanoticWasp I think I will take up your advice on giving my daughter an account. I do think it is her responsibility to handle this herself, however this teacher may or may not improve his ways, in which case I will contact higher importance. He’s been finding more things to “joke” about with her which is making me a little worried. I’m just telling her to keep a low profile, and not take part in his “open conversations”, so she doesn’t give him anything to bite off of. I want her to handle this herself, but I don’t want her to get herself into more trouble either.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@mollypop51797 Maybe at the end of the semester or something, you could report him too? I know sometimes in high school, parents try to let their kids handle it, so really horribly inappropriate things just keep going. This way, she can learn to be an adult, but it doesn’t have to happen to the next kid?

Pandora's avatar

My daughter once had a teacher like that. I told her that her teacher is there to teach and she is there to learn. People will not always get along. But so long as he does his job and she does hers as a student that, that is all that is required but that he owes her respect and to judge her only on her performance.
Next day she asked to speak with him and told him that he didn’t have to like her but as a teacher she expects him to treat her with respect and instruct her in class. She then told him if he felt he couldn’t fairly grade her or instruct her than he can request she be put in another class and she would have no objection. He actually admired her approach in handling it in an adult straight forward fashion.
A few weeks later he had to meet me. He said he was curious at who raised such a mature young lady. She was in the 6th grade. I told him she had spoken to me but she wasn’t the one who told me of their conversation. He actually did. He was wondering if I had told her to do that.

My actual suggestion to her was to wait and see how he would continue to behave then I would talk to him if nothing was resolved. She decided to handle it on her own. She didn’t want to be labeled a cry baby because all the other students liked his humor.
He was the same way. He would joke some children and if they didn’t respond to his humor he would tease them some more.
In my conversation to him, I reminded him how sensitive a childs self esteem can be and teasing doesn’t help to booster their self esteem.
I think after a while some teachers start acting like a child when they try too much to be liked by their students. Some of them need reminders to be the adult in the class.

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