J.C. asks from San Francisco, CA on September 03, 2008
Teacher Playing Favorites
We are struggling with a teacher who is blatantly playing favorites in class. My son is in the 7th grade music program at a new school. It is the band director at the school that we are having difficulty with. At first I wanted to believe that there was more to the story and that maybe my son was taking it too personally. He had had a great relationship with his previous band teacher. However, the favoritism has continued and seems to be getting more and more obvious. Has anyone been through this before? Quiting the music program is not really an option. I'm encouraging my son to keep doing his best and try not to be discouraged. I've signed up to do more volunteer work. The parents of the other player are very involved in fundraising. I've requested a parent-teacher conference, but I've not heard back yet. I know that in the long term it can be a good life lesson that sometimes life isn't fair, but I'd rather he not have to learn that now. Any advice is appreciated. He has get through the rest of 7th grade and all of 8th grade with this teacher. He told me yesterday that it's hard to deal with, but at least this teacher is only the middle school band teacher. He loves music and is hoping to continue playing throughout all of his schooling. I'm not sure how direct I should be with the teacher. I'm a little worried about making things worse than they already are.
PS I guess I should have mentioned that there have been 3 instances so far of class rules being modified or ignored to the advantage of the other student. This is in direct conflict with the parent-student book that we signed and turned in at the start of the school year. And yes the school is a 6-8 and all the other students in band had this teacher last year as well.
P.S. answers from San Francisco on September 04, 2008
Although it's not pleasant, he's old enough to find out that life isn't fair. It will be a lesson that stays with him. Favoritism will rear its ugly head EVERYWHERE, in school, sports, groups of friends, at his first job, etc. Better get used to it now.
Going to the teacher on behalf of your son might create more problems than it will solve. It might be time for your son to stand up for himself --- stay after class to ask why 'X' was allowed to break a rule without consequences. He might start by saying something like "I'm not sure I understand all the rules. X did such-an-such yet was not punished. Did I misunderstand the rule?"
However, the fact that the teacher appears to be playing favorites may not stop him from telling other students that your son's mom came in to stand up for him --- that wouldn't go well for your son.
In any case, you can take satisfaction knowing that this teacher will never be able to maintain discipline in his classroom if not everyone is made to follow the rules. Kids will start rebelling at the unfairness sooner or later.
2 moms found this helpful
J.K. answers from Fresno on September 04, 2008
Hi J., Sorry to say that this actually an all too common practice even more so in sports. You could have a meeting with teacher and let him no where you stand but try to do it in a calm way so as to not rock the boat. Your son should be there as well so he can say how it makes him feel. He will be able to get through and move to high school.
1 mom found this helpful
E.E. answers from San Francisco on September 04, 2008
Wow, it sounds like a difficult situation. If it were me I would do what you are doing-tell my son to hang in there and do his best, and volunteer as much as possible. If you do have a conference with the teacher I would just ask the teacher how your son is doing in class and if there are any areas he needs to work on. Share with him how much your son loves music and how he wants to stick with it. I wouldn't bring up the other child or any of the rules that have been broken. Maybe talking about your son will help the teacher get to know him better and will put your son on his mind. It could make it so he pays more attention to your son. Teachers aren't supposed to have favorites but they do. It could be nothing more than that he already knows the other student from last year and likes him. By next year he will know your son that much as well.
H.M. answers from Sacramento on September 04, 2008
If your not getting a response from the teacher then you need to follow the chain of command up. Go to the principal and inform him of what you think/observe going on in the class and bring up the 3 instances when rules were modified or ignored. If the principal is not helpful then you can continue up the chain of command to the Superintendent. Make sure that you document any repercussions that happen after your disscussion with the prinicpal and/or superintendent. You have to show your son that he has the right to stand up for his rights as long as the rules are being broken.
E.V. answers from San Francisco on September 04, 2008
You have plenty of great responses, and I wanted to throw out there one more thing for thought. Not knowing exactly the nature of what the complaint makes it hard to know what to advise, but I will say that some students in class may have a hidden (to the class and all the parents) disability or IEP that the teacher is not allowed to speak about, but yet has to modify for. That can be very hard to explain to kids in a group and can look like favoritism. Tread gently and remind your student that he only has to worry about himself and doing his job well to really enjoy it.
S.B. answers from Redding on September 04, 2008
My son has been in the music program since the 3rd grade. And he loves it. We live in a town of less than 3,000 people, so we are very fortunate to have someone so skilled at teaching every single instrument you can think of. He gives all children a role, and a place and a part.
I don't know, but they could be favoring a child who is a stand out and more musically inclined than the rest. I know in our case, the ones who have really struggled get to shine and have solos. It's all about everyone being a part of the ensemble and feeling proud of their hard work and accomplishments. The wonderful thing about our music teacher is that he gives every kid a chance. There are harmonica players, piano players, drum players, violin and clarinette and flute players. Saxophone and guitar. Everything.
Their concerts bring down the house. And every child has a place. Even if they are ringing the sleigh bells or dinging the triangle.
Don't let your son give up on music. Let him watch PBS when they have full concert productions. A lot of the musicians sit and read along until it's their part. It's the sum of the parts and not any one person who can make a band work.
I do agree that everyone should be treated the same, but you have to accept that some students are more advanced than others. In our school, if you don't have a good attitude and you're not keeping up with your other work...you're out. It's a privelege. Not a right.
It may just be that things are different with this new teacher. But I agree that rules shouldn't be modified for one child because they are talented. That sends a very wrong signal.
If I were you, I would talk to the music teacher about how your child is doing and leave the compararison of the other kid out, if you can. You don't want to seem like a donineering mother. He (or she) may have ideas for teaching your son in line with his interests and capabilities that you had never thought of. Just let them know how much your child loves music and wants to fit in. I'm sure they will make sure that happens for him. In my experience, music teachers, because of their creative natures, try to foster that in any truly interested kid.
Don't give up just yet.
I wish you the very best. I really do.
I always cry my head off out of pride everytime my son performs at school. And, he is the biggest helper of setting up all the instruments and stacking them down and storing them back to the music room. There should be a part for everyone.
T.V. answers from San Francisco on September 04, 2008
It's difficult to understand what you are talking about. How is the teacher playing favorites? Is this a selection of a soloist and your child wasn't chosen? More information is needed, but if the school has a good band and overall music department, chances are the instructor is making the right decisions.
J.S. answers from San Francisco on September 03, 2008
As a former middle school teacher myself... I will say that we ALL have our favorites. I know I certainly did. However, I managed to still involve all of my students to the point at which they wanted to be. Middle school students are a special breed and so are the teachers who work with them. Personally, I don't know what's going on with the teacher. You didn't say specifically. Some of it might be construed as favortism, some of it not. It seems a bit early in the school year to already have places established unless that other student was in his class last year. In that case, there is a "bond" already formed with that student and his family, especially if they are involved in the program beyond showing up and sucking up oxygen. I'd give it some more time before approaching the teacher. If it seems unbearable, then go for it, but watch your wording. Make sure that the emphasis is on you and your son and how excited he is to be in the class and how can his talents best be used. What else can you do to help out in the class too. Try that approach as opposed to "I've noticed you have a favorite in the class." It will only make things worse if you go that route.