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“A” is for Advice – Parent-Teacher Conversations

A is for Advice - Parent Teacher Conversations - Grown Ups Magazine - My son's teacher is disorganized and rude. Several of the other parents I've talked to are concerned too. What should we do?
My son's teacher is disorganized and rude. Several of the other parents I've talked to are concerned too. What should we do?

A is for Advice - Parent Teacher Conversations - Grown Ups Magazine - My son's teacher is disorganized and rude. Several of the other parents I've talked to are concerned too. What should we do?

Q: My 5th grade son is in a classroom with a first-year teacher. She’s scattered and unorganized and doesn’t seem to have the children’s best interests in mind. I’ve tried to discuss my concerns with her, but she was rude and dismissive. Several of the other parents I’ve talked to are concerned too. What should we do?

A: First of all, a huge thank-you for taking your concerns directly to the teacher! You have no idea how many parents skip that very important step. It’s always best to try to remedy a situation at the ground level (i.e., in the classroom) before taking it to the higher-ups. And though I understand why you consulted other parents, please tread carefully when doing so. A well-meaning fact-finding mission can quickly escalate into a he said, she said mob of angry parents. Nobody wins when that happens.

Now to your question: First-year teachers are a mixed blessing. They’re fresh out of college, so they have enthusiasm and a whole host of exciting lessons they’re eager to try. But they’re also flying solo for the first time without the built-in support of a supervising teacher. Few teachers look back on their first year without cringing, so perhaps your child’s teacher is struggling under the weight of her new responsibilities.

That being said, it sounds like your concerns were met with indifference. It’s time to go to the next level since the teacher obviously needs more support in order to meet the students’ needs. Call and schedule a meeting with the school’s principal or vice principal. Share your concerns, but do so as objectively as possible. Support your claims with as much evidence as you can (graded papers, notes home, etc.). Encourage other parents to do the same so that school authorities understand the issue extends beyond just one parent.

Once the principal has heard from several parents, he or she will address the problems through more frequent classroom observations. Most new teachers are assigned a mentor, so the principal will work with the mentor to provide additional support to hopefully address the problems. If the concerns are particularly grievous, the teacher may be placed on an improvement plan. Failure to show improvement could result in termination. Remember though: the teacher is on contract, so termination is always the last resort after all other improvement methods have failed.

Meanwhile, support your son’s education as much as you can by helping him stay organized and current on assignments. Just because the teacher is unorganized doesn’t mean your son has to be!

About the author

Crystal Plante

Crystal Plante

Crystal is a teacher, reading specialist, freelance writer, author, and married mother of four. In her spare time—or whatever spare time a mother of four has—she enjoys reading, cooking, watching television, and volunteering in her community. Crystal is an unabashed chocoholic and a long-suffering (but recently redeemed) fan of the Kansas City Chiefs. You can visit her website at http://www.ceplante.weebly.com.

  • Marisa Slusarcyk

    I love this advice, it can extend into daycares or really any setting including your own work place. Children often give exagerated accounts of things so it is important for parent/teacher relationships -even when there is no problem. I followed you on UBC and I am glad I did! Have a good week!

  • I love your last comment. Our children have to grow up to live, work, tolerate, create boundaries with all different kinds of people in life! Maybe the teacher just did not know how to handle the parent feedback either.

  • Sophie Bowns

    Such good advice!
    I love the last part too 🙂

  • kristimaloney

    Great, practical advice. Hopefully going through the proper channels will help.

  • pixystik4u

    good advice!! it is good for them!

  • Mitzi Fisher

    This is awesome advise. Teachers really cant always be right! We have had to many bad things happening with the children being taken advantage of. Thanks for the review.

  • Shannon

    Thank you for this advice. Have a lovely day.

  • I agree. Staying informed and giving support while staying positive goes a long way. It ultimately falls on the parent to make sure every child is getting what they need. Good tips here.

  • Katie

    Keeping open lines of communication is so important with your kids at all ages. Great tips!

  • Jen St Germain Leeman

    That’s a tough situation that fortunately I haven’t found myself in yet. I think this is a good game plan for such a problem. A mob of parents could certainly seem like a witch hunt. I’d keep this one between our family and the teacher/ principal.

  • Sadie

    Tough situation! I’d talk to the principal for sure.

  • Tatanisha Worthey

    Oh that is tough. I am not a big fan of first year teachers. I know they have to learn– but I don’t really care for my kids being the guinea pig that year! I’ve been there and pulled my son out halfway through the year because of the Teacher.

  • notageek4u

    Being a first year teacher can be super overwhelming!

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