Kevin came home from school and slammed the door so hard the windows rattled. His mother ran into the room to see what all of the commotion was about. When she got there she witnessed Kevin throwing his backpack on the floor and angrily mumbling something. "What on earth is going on Kevin?" she asked. "Man, I can't stand that man. He hates me! It's like I walk into his class with a target on my back. I have so much homework that I'm never going to get it done. So, I guess I'll fail and now I'll never get into college!" "What man? Who are you talking about?" Kevin's mother questioned. "Mr. Smith! Mom, you got to get me out of that class! Pleeeease!" he pleaded.
"So Kevin, you're not a fan of Mr. Smith? Why don't you go put your things up and meet me in the kitchen? (Notice how she's giving him some cool down space.) Meanwhile, I'll put a snack together and we can sit down and discuss what's going on." Kevin's mom was worried. He struggled in math and the last thing she needed was to go through a year with a difficult teacher. Maybe I'll call the counselor in the morning and change him out of Mr. Smith's class she thought.
Sometimes your teen's going to get a teacher that he/she dislikes. Helping our children work through personality
conflicts will help them in the future when they're faced with difficult situations with college professors, employers, etc. Fact is, oftentimes in life we can't alter every situation we're in and we have to learn to make the best of what we've been given. Before you rush to the school to make a teacher change try some of these strategies:
1. Listen to your teens concerns find out what's going on in the class. Don't jump to conclusions remember you're only getting one side of the story.
2. Encourage your teen to stay after class or go to speak with the teacher during office hours. Teens will typically avoid this strategy at all costs. They may tell you they already did that but odds are if you probe you'll find out they may have said something while the class was changing and the teacher wasn't able to truly listen to your teens concerns. This first meeting needs to occur between the student and teacher, if at all possible. They need to establish a working relationship throughout the school year so provide them with the space they need to resolve their differences.
3. If your teen is adamant about not meeting with the teacher, then you can set up an appointment for a student/teacher conference by making a phone call or emailing the teacher. Let your teen voice his or her concerns, not you. All you need to express to the teacher is that your child is having some problems in his class and you would like for him to sit and discuss this with your teen.
4. Follow-up with your teen and the teacher. See if a resolution has occurred and monitor the situation. If things don't seem to be getting better, then make an appointment with your teen, his teacher and yourself. Let your teen and the teacher do the majority of the talking and you can assist in filling in the gaps. Monitor to see if progress is being made by sending occasional emails to the teacher and keeping a line of communication open with your teen.
5. Document, Document, and Document. For each appointment, email and/or phone call keep a log of your contacts. This will assist you if you need to take your concerns to another level. The first question that most administrator's ask is have you discussed these concerns with your child's teacher? If you can pull out this list of strategies noting the date and time that each has occurred then you're in great shape for helping your teen present his or her concerns to a counselor or admninistrator.
When to speak to a Counselor or Administrator:
1. If something unethical or unprofessional is occurring in the classroom then speak to a school counselor or principal immediately. Such situations require prompt attention and should not go undocumented.
2. If you have used the strategies above and no resolution has occurred then you have taken the proper steps to resolve the issue and bringing a counselor or administrator into the situation for an intervention is a good idea.
Learning how to deal with personality conflicts and difficult people is part of life. By using the strategies outlined above you can begin to teach your teen how to appropriately deal with teachers that they don't see eye to eye with. Teaching your teen to speak his concerns instills confidence in his ability to handle a variety of situations.
Kevin ran through the door and shouted to the top of his lungs. His mother ran into the room to see what all of the commotion was about. "What on earth is going on Kevin?" she asked. "Last day of school, summer break and I just aced Mr. Smith's exam! Oh yeah, life's good!" His mother just smiled shook her head and walked out of the room. For she knew not only did Kevin ace Mr. Smith's final but he had also aced an important life lesson. She reflected on the past year's rocky start and thought about how proud she was of her son and his grade in Mr. Smith's class.