The Sassy Housewife is a weekly Saturday advice column on momaha.com by Danielle Herzog, a married mother of two. She’ll cover adventures in housewifery — parenting, entertaining and the interests of a been-there-done-that and somewhat-know-it-all wife.
Dear Sassy Housewife,
My son hates his fourth grade teacher. And honestly, so do his father and I. Since the first day of school, she has a chip on her shoulder and talks so harshly to the kids. My son says that she has even made fun of kids at school in front of the whole class. I have only met her once but didn’t feel a connection with her and felt like she didn’t want to be talking to any of us parents. Do I talk to the principal about moving my son into a different class? I don’t want to get labeled as the complaining parent. What do I do?
Fourth Grade Funk
My fourth grade teacher was Mrs. Worm. Yep, I kid you not, that was her name. She had the worst reputation in the school and all sorts of rumors spread about how she was so mean that she would make kids write until their hands bled. Of course, she didn’t, but we thought she was the most horrible creature an educational system could create. What I found out a few years later was that she was going through a terrible divorce after the death of one of her children. Yeah, no one made jokes about bleeding hands after finding that out.
Lesson learned: you never know what’s going on in someone’s personal life. The worst thing you can do to a teacher is go to the principal without ever talking directly to the him/her first. As a former teacher, I can tell you that is the No. 1 cardinal sin parents could commit.
Schedule a meeting with your son’s teacher. Be honest but kind to her. Tell her that your son is having a hard time because he’s feeling a lack of connection to her. Don’t get into the gossip about her making fun of kids – that’s here say and you don’t want to talk about things like that. However, you could share your feelings of concern. Let her know that she seems distant and unapproachable. Ask her what methods she would prefer to connect with parents. Maybe she doesn’t even realize that her words are coming out harsh. Heck, I am often told by friends and family that I’m a bit too blunt and harsh. What can I say – I’m a New Yorker.
I strongly advise you against changing classrooms. I think even difficult teachers are part of the learning process for kids (and parents). Your son has to learn how to work with challenging personalities, especially because he’ll probably have a boss or co-worker someday that he’ll have to use those skills with.
And remember, at the end of the day, your son’s teacher is still a person too. Perhaps she is going through a rough time. Try kindness and empathy first – they go much farther than the slap of a principal’s hand.
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