Teen Talk: This Teacher Hates Me...

Teen Talk - Live

Chris is taking “Teen Talk” on the road. If you are a member of a parent group or responsible for finding engaging speakers for student or youth groups, please contact Chris at www.chrislincoln-speaker.com

This Teacher Hates Me...

Hot on the heels of last week’s hub “This Girl at School Hates Me…” comes the second most common teen complaint, “This Teacher Hates Me…”

Much of the advice remains the same. Listen carefully, be the sounding board your child needs, don’t overtly side with your child (or the teacher) and don’t leap into, “I’ll go down there and sort this out,” mode.

The information you are receiving is passing through a very special filter – a middle school child – complete with their sense of injustice, and their egocentric worldview, along with their emotional teeter-totter mentality.

I have been a middle school teacher and administrator for many years and am married to a sixth grade math and science teacher. The first thing to get into the open is that it is incredibly rare that a teacher seriously dislikes a student.

Feeling frustrated and irritated are the two most common negative emotions reported by teachers. Interacting with, between seventy and ninety, (or more) children a day, will certainly highlight those feelings at times, but hate? It is too strong an emotion, and something that, in twenty or more years, I have never witnessed. I have come across disappointment, sadness, even fear, but never hatred.

The teen puts a very different value on the word hate than an adult would. Like a two year old finding the power of the magic “no” word, hate is extended to mean everything in the realm of “not good”. Love is used just as expansively, leaving “I don’t know” to cover the middle ground. For children this age there are no shades of gray. Everything is either loved or hated, with anything not already filed into those categories, such as; “maybe”, “boring”, “stupid”, “don’t know”, and “don’t care”, in limbo, awaiting later categorization.

So, “This Teacher Hates Me…” means your child is upset with the actions, words or demeanor of a particular teacher. It may be a tiny issue. For example, “She gave me a zero for not turning in my homework,” when that’s a clear class/school/district rule. It could be a bigger issue that may warrant your intervention. Either way, hear your child out.

Middle school is a very difficult transition for many students. Going from a self-enclosed classroom with one teacher, to moving between rooms and multiple teachers, and can be a significant challenge. The chances of your “stuff” being somewhere nearby in a self-enclosed classroom, are high. There is flexibility, both for the student and the teacher, and that is missing in the more time-regimented structure of most middle schools.

This makes the Teacher, in the eyes of the student, less accessible, and by extrapolation (and comparison with elementary years) remote, unfeeling, and uncaring. This would come as a surprise to most of the teachers, who regularly offer their very precious non-teaching time (recess, before and after school, lunch and those, oh so needed, planning periods) to the students, (who then don’t use them.) The disconnect lies in the structure being different, but some students quickly figure out how the system works, and from Christmas onwards, start to take advantage of the teacher’s offer of help.

You can imagine the delicate balancing act that middle school teachers have to do. The single hardest lesson in middle school is not a particular subject, but the development of personal responsibility. Some students take to it like ducks to water. They revel in their growing self-determination, enjoying the ability to demonstrate their independence and their skill at being a student. Others are simply lost. If they have been used to someone else doing all the organizing and keeping it together, they lack the skill set to step up to a more independent role.

Parents, older siblings, and some elementary teachers, unwittingly enable this behavior. It is a real handicap that we tend to see more with boys than girls. It makes middle school many times harder than it need be, but there is no option, they have to learn to stand on their own two feet.

Meanwhile, they see the issue, not of their own making, but the teacher’s fault. Some key facts;

  • Homework is not optional.
  • Learning is not over just because you have gone home.
  • Work has to actually be turned in to receive a grade.
  • Work has to be identified to receive a grade. (Your name must be on it.)
  • Thinking you turned it in does not equal turned in. (Check the backpack)
  • It actually takes many hours for work to be graded (don’t expect the grade to be posted ten minutes after you, belatedly, turn it in)
  • The stuff written in red by the teacher is meant to read, they are clues to help you improve.
  • “At home”, or “in my locker” is not “with you”. Be prepared for class.
  • The best way to earn respect is to show respect.
  • Oh and the big shocker. Teachers talk to each other, and your parents.

None of these things mean your teacher does not like you. They need you to learn these key management components as quickly as possible. It allows your teacher to be more efficient, and have more time for the more important issues that may arise.

Now, if your child is doing the above, but still feels that they are not being successful, it is important to find the root of the issue. After listening carefully I would suggest contacting the teacher, to get their perspective. Email is the easiest way to communicate, but be careful not to sound accusatory or angry. The two of you need to work in unison to best assist your child. Email is a hard medium to express nuanced or subtle concerns, so write it and have a friend or partner read it first to see if your point is well made. Teachers have a tough time returning phone calls, and meetings are notoriously difficult to schedule (especially if you are working), thus my emphasis on a careful email communication.

In this manner, hundreds of instances of a child needing glasses, having attention issues, or hearing impediments, have been uncovered. Very often the child has a difficult time trying to express their concern or issue. They may be aware that something is wrong, but lack the vocabulary, or simply have no point of reference, and so, cannot explain what they need.

In concert with the teacher(s), you can be a wonderful advocate for your child. Good communication, and a joint goal of guiding a child to independence, will minimize the reports of “This Teacher hates me…”

Looking forward to next week, the even more personal, “I Hate You…”


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Comments 30 comments

sueroy333 profile image

sueroy333 6 years ago from Indiana

Excellent advise. The middle school years can be the WORST... for everything!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

sueroy333,

Thanks for taking the time to hit my more serious hubs, much appreciated.

Chris


CarolineChicago profile image

CarolineChicago 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

Another great hub--completely covers what I was talking about in my comment on another of your blogs. Thanks for writing!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 6 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Caroline,

I appreciate the comments, thanks for reading. I update this blog series every Friday (I write himor Monday through Thursday - nice balance I think!)

Chris


ACSutliff profile image

ACSutliff 5 years ago

Great Hub! I especially enjoyed the key facts, and the practical way you approach the subject. I will most definitely try to come back, as it is my first year teaching math and science (and reading) to sixth graders, and I feel I could learn something too. I'm currently disillusioned and rather frustrated with a few of my cherubs, but you are right, I could never hate them. :)


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

AC,

Thanks for reading. My wife teaches grade six math and science so it is all very fresh in our household. Please read the other Teen Talk hubs, they a) might help, and b) might make you laugh. Point c is if you have questions, fire away, I've been a Teacher/Principal in MS for nearly twenty years - I've learned some stuff! It would make my hubs more responsive, which is my goal.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

C


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

GREAT hub again for me Mr. Lincoln ! I volunteer at my girls elementary school two mornings each week - I work in the office - running a little copy shop for teachers who don't have parents that help them. I do not interfere with their teachers - disruptive to the class. But they know where to find me every Tues. & Thurs. Morning. I have heard my children complain about not liking some teachers - but this is future on the job training I think - and I don't volunteer because I'm nice or anything like that:-) I read that if you are more involved the children tend to get better grades:-) it's working for me so far!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Real,

I loved it when parents volunteered for the right reasons, I honestly don't know how I would have managed without them. You get to see some of the "real" which has to help you relate to your girls.

And if no one has ever done so, thank you for your efforts...

Chris


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Oh the teachers do - I am blown away because teachers I am not very familiar with say thanks all the time! The principal always thanks me every time he sees me, and the secretarial staff! They are some hilarious women! Thank YOU!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

RealHW,

Well, I'm honored that you have spent so much this evening on my hubs. I certainly appreciate that.

Sign of a truly great school...

Where admin, staff and families show gratitude to each other - it means they are putting the kids first:)

C


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Ha! That's what is always on the principals emails to me - Kids First ! I'm just hooked and can't wait to read more! I have two more children to grow up with so I'm coming back for more info! You have so much experience I know you will help me:-). Just reading those hubs!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

RHW,

And please ask any questions you might have - I really want the hubs to be interactive.

C


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Awesome! I really appreciate that - you might be sorry you said that later:) haha!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

I doubt that. Both my readers will appreciate it!

C


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Haha! I'm the one who is learning how to write right from all of you! I just got home from school (seriously how funny does that sound coming from a 42 year old)?! A group of mothers were discussing when and why they should address the principal with concerns - all my friends agreed we are a little worried about ours being so busy - but its true! I think it would be great for people like me - to read about over parenting and when you should not be afraid to let your principal know what is going on with the kids? Also how to handle the situation delicately? I dunno it's just on my mind because I just had the conversation!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

RHW,

Meeting as a group rarely goes well. As the administrator it is very intimidating and difficult to address properly. It's usually about one of two things, a child or a teacher, and in both cases the issues of privacy and/or labor laws restrict what can or should be said.

The best way to have an impact is for each individual concerned to contact the Principal. Multiple individual letters, emails and visits from parents allow the responses to be personal and more relevant to the actual situation. No matter what the chatter is, it is unlikely that a group all feel exactly the same way. If there is a real issue, the number of concerned parents then gives the administrator the leverage they may need to make change happen.

And as a Principal you are always busy, goes with the territory, but in general you want to be made aware of potential issues, earlier is always better than later. A fact filled, unemotional letter, or email is best as it gives you a chance to give a measured response - and saves a great deal of time.

Just my two cents...


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Hey that's worth a LEAST two bits:-). Haha - great answer - I think sometimes the parents can be more petty can the kids! I listen and learn while I'm there - I just keep myself out of trouble by never joining in that kind of silliness! I actually wear my iPod while I'm copying because then I am oblivious:-)


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

RHW,

It is far too easy to get sucked in, especially with the firstborns...

iPod is a good idea, sends a message to the teachers and staff that you are not eavesdropping -

You would have been the type of parent I would have sought feedback from, involved but not in the "crazy" zone :)

Makes me angry to think about how a group of empowered (monied) individuals forced me out of the school I co-founded after sixteen years. I put the kids first, the board had their own agenda, c'est la vie

C


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Haha yes such is life! I'm glad you said that about it being a good idea to wear iPod - I really don't want people to think I'm unapproachable - I just get tired of the verbatim and also I really would rather be doing other things:-) like shopping! So I find it actually helps me get my jobs done quicker too:-) see I'm really a mean real housewife! And French phrases too - you kill me!


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

RHM

Its a job that will do that to you - have you read any of my Hapless Househusband hubs?

C


RealHousewife profile image

RealHousewife 5 years ago from St. Louis, MO

Not yet but I'm all over your page now!! There is so much catching up for me to do - but yours are refreshing and educational - I know they will be nuggets of info I can save for later - plus lots of laughs!


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Nice hub and very informative.i like that.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

crystolite,

I appreciate you dropping on by,

C


Dovay Lee profile image

Dovay Lee 5 years ago from China

I learn a lot from you. And i will do as you write to teach my daughter in the near future.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

Dovay Lee,

Thank you for reading, leaving a comment and for the follow. I hope I can continue to inform..

C


sora 5 years ago

I very much enjoyed your article, however i believe there are instances where the teacher has wronged the student, perhaps more often then one should think. I have seen instances where a teacher will show prejudice or unabashed favoritism towards certain students. Therefore just as a teacher may influence a child in teaching them lessons, they also hold the potential to ruin a child's entire school experience. I guess my point is: students are wronged too.


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

sora,

That is true. As a teacher I realized that is was incredibly important to recognise my prejudices and actively counter them. In my case, I much prefered to teach girls, the boys would frustrate me with their goofiness and laziness at times. A good principal noticed and gave me sage advice about acceptance and tolerance, not in a judgemental way, but in a way that encouraged me to improve.

I tried to do the same for teachers when I became principal, but the reality is, this is something that always needs to be guarded against, and corrected when possible. The adult influence is important, modelling the best behaviour is important, and recognizing mistakes and slights is important too.

Thanks for reading and leaving a comment,

C


TeenDad 5 years ago

But they have always already done their homework in my house, haha


ChrisLincoln profile image

ChrisLincoln 5 years ago from Orange (or Lemon...) County, California Author

TeenDad,

Of course they have. You ought to be the go to guy for math though!

C


Donna Kay Bryan profile image

Donna Kay Bryan 4 years ago

Excellent hub! As a teacher myself I've heard from parents that their child has told them that I hate them. Most often, it is actually that I'm pushing that child to turn in work, to put forth an effort, and to follow my 2 rules: be responsible and be respectful. Usually the parents understand; sometimes they are worse than the kids.

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