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My Child Says the Teacher Yells at the Class

By Dr. Joseph Gianesin, Behavioral Consultant

Question:

My daughter is in the fourth grade. She has been telling me that her teacher continually yells at her and the rest of the class.

She has informed me that her teacher talks to the class differently when other adults are in the classroom. She tells me that I would see for myself if there was a video camera in the classroom.

My daughter is convinced that her teacher hates her. I told her I would bring these issues up during parent-teacher conferences. Do you think I should do a few drop-ins prior to this parent-teacher meeting? Any ideas on how to keep my daughter encouraged about going to class?

Answer:

Two pieces of information stand out that concern me. First, the observation your daughter has made that the teacher acts differently and her attitude in class changes when other adults are present. Second, your daughter perceives her teacher as disliking her. (Whether this is true or not, it is her perception.)

I always counsel parents to talk with the teacher first and express their concerns. Stay focused on your daughter and describe how she feels - unwanted and not welcome in the class. If you keep the discussion focused on your child and how concerned you are about her, the teacher won't feel threatened and upset. Engaging the teacher as an ally in helping your child feel nurtured and wanted is important.

If the teacher fails to respond, the next step is to make an appointment with the principal indicating your concerns. Many principals walk around their buildings and listen closely to the tact and tone of teachers without the teachers' knowledge. The principal is the person who evaluates the teacher and he/she is concerned when teachers are not treating children respectfully.

As far as your daughter is concerned, we all will have a teacher or two that we won't click with. Encourage your daughter to talk about positive as well as negative experiences she is having at school. This helps her put the classroom day in a larger perspective.

Dr. Joseph Gianesin is a professor at Springfield College School of Social Work. He has more than 25 years of experience as a child and family therapist, a school social worker and a school administrator. Along with his academic appointment, Dr. Gianesin is a program and behavioral consultant for public schools in Massachusetts, helping them develop and manage programs for children with significant mental health problems.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.