Navigating rocky relationships with teachers

You need to have a plan of action when you believe there's a problem with your child's teacher.

By GreatSchools Staff

When your child has a great teacher, you are likely to see your child excited about learning and going to school. But what should you do if the teacher is not so great, if your child complains about the teacher or problems arise? It's best to remain calm and have a plan of action.

If you think there may be a problem, here's a plan of action:

Gather the facts.

Try to remain objective and open-minded. If there is a problem, don?t immediately assume that it is entirely the teacher's fault; it could be a problem with your child or the school. If your school or teacher will allow it, sit in and observe what goes on in the classroom. If parent observation is not permitted, talk with other parents to see if their children are having problems. Also talk with parents whose child had this teacher in past years to determine if there is an ongoing problem.

Document the problems.

Write down the times and dates of incidents of a teacher's inappropriate behavior. If other parents are noticing problems, ask them to do the same.

Call or meet with the teacher.

Schedule a face-to-face meeting if you feel a phone call won't resolve the problem.

Approach the teacher as a professional and an ally.

Avoid a confrontational attitude and stick to the facts. Try to stay clear of personal criticism. Focus on classroom practices, curriculum and what you feel your child needs. Once you have had a conversation with the teacher, give him the opportunity and a fair amount of time to improve the situation.

Contact the principal.

If you don't see any progress after a few weeks, take your concerns to the principal. But be aware that it is always better if you can resolve the problem without involving the principal. Once you involve the principal, you cross a line, and your relationship and your child's relationship with the teacher will be forever changed.

Follow the school's policy.

Your school should have a policy on teacher-parent disagreements. Ask what the policy is and follow it. Give this process time to work.

Contact the district superintendent.

If you still haven't resolved the problem after speaking with the principal, contact the district superintendent. Ask what the district's policy is on evaluating teachers and how teachers are assigned to schools in the district. Gather other parents with you who are concerned about the teacher. Realize that this process takes time and may not end in a quick solution, but there is hope if you are persistent in working with other parents and continue to voice your concerns.