What do you do if you don't respect your child's teacher? We're having problems with the second grade teacher. Our son is starting to get a negative attitude about school in large part because of constant conflicts about homework – three subjects each night. The teacher is also a strict disciplinarian. We 're having trouble keeping his chin up because we disagree with the teacher’s methods and don't think she is doing a good job. What can we do to get everyone back on the right track?
Dear Queens Dad:
Sad to say, this is not a new problem. Here is what comes to mind:
First, help your son manage the homework schedule so he can get through it without too much resistance. Maybe one subject right after school, one just before dinner and one after dinner. In between, even if there is just a little time, he can do something fun. Other well-used remedies: Turn a play date into a study date so both kids can do a bit of homework before they play; work toward a reward with points for every evening that the homework gets done without drama...a special treat awaits!
Meanwhile, let your son know that he will have to deal with all kinds of people in life, including teachers, as he will have many different teachers over the course of his schooling. If the teacher has good points, talk these up. If not, try not to criticize her in your child's hearing.
To make some inroads on the teacher's style, your best bet is to get together with other parents who have the same concerns. Is there a class parent who organizes everyone? Work together to develop a message to the principal as a group. Figure out what you want most in the way of change: Less homework? Less punishment? More arts? More physical activity? Ask the principal to engage the school support team to help the teacher with professional development and classroom management.
But before you reach out to other teachers, or the principal, the timing is right for a conversation with the teacher. Elementary school parent teacher conferences are coming up next week. That’s where you can possibly remedy the situtation in a one-to-one conversation: Ask her why so much homework, and why kids are misbehaving and needing punishment. Perhaps it is an unruly group. But, obviously don't antagonize the teacher -- praise her for the good stuff she is doing and promise to work with her toward a successful school year.
Shoring up your son’s attitude toward school and getting together to address the problem with other parents are both important steps which should lead toward a happier school experience.
Suggestions from other families who have faced this problem would be welcome too! Please share in comments below.