11 answers

Is My Son's Teacher Picking on Him?

My 8 year old third grader is a sweet, shy little boy. He is average in intelligence, but tries very hard at school. His teacher is a second year teacher. I believe she is a very harsh grader. For example, he had a spelling test last week, and had the words "prime meridian" and "North America". He spelled both correctly, but did not capatilize North America and capitalized prime Meridian. She counted both wrong. She is always on him about his handwriting. He practices this consistently at home, I believe it is a small motor skill that is developing. There are always negative comments on his papers about the handwriting. Yes, I agree, it is bad- but I can make out his answers, why can't she? What takes the cake is at a student led conference last week she made it a point to go up sit in with us and show us every "bad" paper he had done lately. This made him upset and he started to cry- there were other kids with their parents in the classroom- I feel like she was singling him out and it definetly embarrassed him. I feel sorry for him because I know he is trying his best. I understand teachers have a difficult job. This is the first teacher that I have encountered with my boys whose methods I just don't like. There was a section on the report card that allowed for parent comments, and I wrote that I would appreciate it if he had more positive feedback on his papers. I have not noticed any change. I wonder if I am just being to sensitive or if I should approach the teacher / and or principal about this, and if so, how to go about doing that.

What can I do next?

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I'm a teacher and a parent. In all the years a child goes to school, there will be numerous teacher/student personality combinations. Not all will be ideal. I tried to teach my own children how to get along with the various personalities they encountered. Most issues did not reach the level of having to intervene. Parents should keep a dialogue going with the teacher. The idea of "singling out" or "picking on" a student is rare. I tell parents, I have 90 students, why would I pick one? Teachers are just human beings, not angels or nuns (anymore). Most are hardworking and caring people.

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I'm a teacher and a parent. In all the years a child goes to school, there will be numerous teacher/student personality combinations. Not all will be ideal. I tried to teach my own children how to get along with the various personalities they encountered. Most issues did not reach the level of having to intervene. Parents should keep a dialogue going with the teacher. The idea of "singling out" or "picking on" a student is rare. I tell parents, I have 90 students, why would I pick one? Teachers are just human beings, not angels or nuns (anymore). Most are hardworking and caring people.

1 mom found this helpful

As a teacher I can tell you, teachers should ALWAYS highlight the positive first and then if there are negatives lead into them after bringing in the positives. I would never bring a childs poor work up in front of others, that is embarasssing to a child and when kids are embarassed or feel threated, they shut down and your son is too young to develop a dislike for school and that is what will happen. Handwriting is a fine motor skill and if he struggles work with him and let her know you are working with him. I would ask for a conference with her and tell her all this, I am also a parent and I know, I would never want anyone to treat my child like that and as a teacher, I would never treat a child that way. You can offer suggestions and constructive critism without embarassing a child! This is a battle you need to fight for him b/c he is not old enough to fight it for himself yet. I hope it all works out!

1 mom found this helpful

I would start with speaking with the teacher. Voice your concern to her first. I teach as well and would be upset if a parent went to the principal before speeking with me. I do thing she is being a little tough. With the spelling I would say that capitilization counts for accuracy, and if that is her policy than I would just help your son understand that. I have marked words wrong for the same reason. But really I would talk to the teacher first and see if that helps, if it doesn't than I would set up a meetinig with the principal. Good luck with everything.

As a teacher, I understand why the items were marked wrong for capitalization...however, one might choose to soften the blow when a student has mastered the spelling portion with a comment like, "You were very close...next time remember to capitalize" to offer some encouragement. My guess is that as a second year teacher she is trying hard to be consistent. I doubt that she is intentionally picking on your son, but she might not realize the impact that her actions have. Always start with teacher communication and if you don't get a satisfactory reaction or a professional response then go to the principal or the division head. In my opinion she needs to be gently made aware of how she impacts her students. She will appreciate your input if you speak with her directly and offer your point of view in a non-threatening but "concerned mother" way (at least I would!).

She absolutely should never offer criticism publicly unless it's a "redirection" with additional encouragement.

You are his mom...and she needs to understand your position.

Good luck!

It sounds like you've received a lot of good advice about talking with the teacher, trying to soften things, etc. One other thought is to turn this into a learning opportunity for your son. Everyone is different. If he had a good experience with his first grade teacher, remind him of those and that her "style" was different. Let him know that he is doing a great job and YOU'RE proud of his accomplisments. Encourage him to contine doing his best and that next year is a whole new game with (hopefully!) a teacher who is a little kinder.

As a teacher myself, I definitely would say you have every right to have a concern. Your child is your most precious possession, and it's your job to defend him or question things when you feel it's necessary. That being said, most teachers would agree that the line of communication should start with his classroom teacher. (Most principals are going to direct you to make an attempt w/ the classroom teacher anyways) If you haven't done so already, document the attempts you've made with her, and give it one more try. Give her a call & ask to speak with her about the student led conference. The purpose of SL conferences is for the student to shine! Obviously that got lost in the process. I would politely but assertively express your concerns & ask for her help & suggestions on what you can do on your end as a parent. I would definitely mention that your son responds best to positive reinforcement, how can we incorporate this into his school routine? I would say that a 2 week time frame should be enough to see changes on her end, and if you still feel that she is not being fair to him, or hasn't improved w/ positive notes, etc. then you should definitely call & talk to the principal.
As a teacher, I never question a parents concern or need to gain clarification on things, even when it's trivial or when I've sent home 10,000 reminders & etc. about it. Good Luck!

Sometimes people even teachers need a gentle reminder that you can correct a mistake and praise the part that was done correct at the same time, encouragement goes along way. Good Luck. B.

It actually does not sound like she's picking on him. She would mark any student's paper incorrect if they made the same errors. And as for the handwriting, some teachers are just more picky than others when it comes to this. You can read his writing because he's your child. Sounds like she should not have used your son's papers as bad examples for the class though. I would have been upset with that too.

It's okay to feel sensitive--that's your job as a parent! Any mom would feel that way. I would call her or ask for a meeting. I would not call the principal. This is between you and the teacher. I would let her know your concerns and both of you can look for more positive ways to increase your son's confidence.

Yes she is. Call her up and have a chat. Once she is aware that you are aware and very watchful, she will soften up. Nip this in the bud. I was a teacher before I became a Mom and I would ALWAYS highlight the positive! One can tell between a student who does not try and one that does. Such minor mistakes should not be condemned as something major. Call that bratty teacher on Monday.

I am so sorry you are going through this. I certainly can empathise. My son had difficulties in kindergarten. we never realized until this teacher pointed it out. after awhile it was very hard not to get defensive. I wish I had sent my son to more preschool- he was so much further behind and the little preschool he had I was not advised to any issues he may be having. with Michaels kindergarten teacher we did everything we could- got his ears checked, his eyes checked by an optomitrist and opthamologist, ADD and ADHD testing- were fine so finally an evalutation at pediatric place- BINGO- he had visual issues, binocular vision and occular vision. in addition to therapy once a week we go to a vision dr once every other month for correctional glasses and eye exercises. we also discovered some sensorimotor issues, upper body strength weakness. etc.. I am reading a book now that is benefical on dyslexia- which means learning disability. Anyway, as much as I did not care for this teacher- because truth hurts and she didnt have much sensitivity if it was not for her Michael would be stuggling even longer. We also discovered now- torette syndrome. the sad thing is these kids are so smart that he now has such a low self esteem. who can blame them when they have this difficulty and are preceived as not trying and lazy? we are our childrens advocates so I would communicate with the teacher but as far as getting things wrong for capitalization- I dont think its all wrong. just part of learning. I just tell my son. awesome! U got it right! ITs just marked wrong because its not in caps! Good try! Its hard not to be sensitive when it comes to our children= but I also say lets stop and think about these teachers as well- they have a very hard job. just thank her and ask what she would recommend. talk to your ped dr. perhaps get him evaluated. I am so sad I didnt do it sooner but grateful now. Pediatric place has helped so much. Good luck!

Yes, ask for a conference. I think you should write down all of the incidents for your own records, but I wouldn't approach her with a laundry list. The harsh grading you probably can't do anything about, but the negativity and humiliating in front of others is not right and it's also counter-productive for his learning experience. I would approach the conversation from a positive point of view. Describe what you think your son needs in order to have a supportive learning environment (encouragement, non-punitive feedback, etc.) ask her if she agrees those are desirable, and then if she says yes, ask her what are some specific things she can do to make changes.

If she says she thinks punishment and humiliation actually are positive for learning, I'd write that down word for word and then have the conversation with the principal! But I doubt she will - there may be something going on with her, or she may not be great with kids who are more sensitive, or something along those lines.

Keep supporting him at home and do the best you can to deal with the unreasonable grading. It's only 2nd grade - doesn't appear on the college transcripts! My son, same grade, also tends to get so discouraged and take some things so seriously. I think some adults forget how some children are very literal-minded about this stuff and take it very hard.

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