Bad Teacher... a Little Long...

Updated on October 15, 2011
R.D. asks from Richmond, VA
26 answers

My 2nd grader's teacher is pretty awful. This is the first teacher the girls have had that I really had an issue with. This is the only class in the entire school that, for some reason, can't find time for recess... those kids need a little play time. The teacher manages her time very poorly.

Example: yesterday, for Emmy's birthday, I brought cookies to her class. For 2 weeks prior, I wrote the teacher numerous notes asking how many kids there were, if there were any allergies, and what time I could come in. My daughter told me there were 20 kids in class, and anytime is fine. Well, from pervious experience, I know the end of the day is best (don't want to sugar up the kids and leave, LOL!!)... but she never told me about the kids with allergies.

So I get there, the door is closed but I could see through the window, and the teacher is sitting at her desk grading papers, SCREAMING at the kids to be quite. She didn't even hear me knock, she was yelling so loudly. I poked my head in and she immediately changed her demeanor. The kids were sitting at their desks with NOTHING to do while she graded stacks of papers!!

She said I could take over.. um, okay. I had the kids go in groups of 3 to wash their hands, while my daughter passed out napkins... they were doing wonderful, considering they were excited about some cookies! The teacher kept hollering for them to be quiet, saying things like 'Just you wait until Emily's mom leaves, see what happens'... WHAT?! Why not tell ME what's going to happen, lady?!

Before I passed out the cookies, I asked the children if they had any allergies to nuts... 2 kids raised their hands. I was kind of mad... I had asked the teacher about this a few times. So I quietly asked her if maybe she had something else for those 2 students, so they weren't left out. She said 'Nicholas can have a sucker, Laila can have a knot upside her head'.... EXCUSE ME?! REALLY?!

Anyway, the kids were VERY polite (please, thank you, they're good cookies, you're very sweet, etc)... and as I was leaving, closing the door behind me, she immediately started telling the kids how awful they behaved!! WHAT?!

So today we had parent teacher conferences (my girls are both straight A students and reading WELL above their levels, and they're excellent helpers, YAY!)... when I sat down with this terrible teacher, she was all happy go lucky, like yesterday never happened!

So I offered, since I live close, if she'd like, when she's grading papers, I could come in, get the kids moving at their desks, just let a little energy out, then calm them down... they need to NOT be sitting at their desks with nothing to do, not even busy work... she was like 'oh no, it's okay'... No, it's NOT okay. Then I told her how ABSOLUTELY well behaved I thought the children were the previous day, and how very polite everyone was... she was like 'oh no, they were horrendous'... NO THEY WEREN'T! So we kind of went back and forth, then our time was up.

My question is this... my daughter is obviously doing okay with her grades, and doesn't often complain about her teacher- she loves school- but this woman is NOT okay in my book. What do I do? I don't want to make her angry and have her take it out on my kid, but I really feel she isn't being fair to these kids, not managing her time wisely, and she's just MEAN! Can I make an anonymous call to the principal? What's the best way to bring this to the school's attention? I'm really concerned about the kids having to sit at their desk for who knows how long, doing nothing, that's ridiculous. They could be doing homework or busy work or reading or studying or playing games together... I don't like how 2 faced she is either. They really do seem like a great group of kids.

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So What Happened?

I am so relieved to hear that I'm not blowing this out of proportion! I tried to see the principal (whom I love and trust) before leaving today, but she was already in meetings, so I will go in on Monday to discuss this with her. I'd hate to switch Emmy's teacher this far into the school year because she's doing so well, BUT, obviously something has to change here! I'm all for strict discipline and working hard at school work and studying, BUT, these kids need let their energy out. Like I said, I even offered to do it!!

Yes, she made the comment about Laila in front of of the entire class!! I was dumbfounded. I feel like this woman has no business being a teacher (but in the same token, I have to give credit where credit is due, and Emily is doing VERY well this year)... so it's tough. I am my child's advocate, and apparently the advocate for the other kids now as well. I spoke with another mom who's son is in that class, and she's already spoken with the principal about the recess thing... so I'll let you ladies know how it goes Monday!! Thanks for the support!

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answers from Jacksonville on

Screw the anonymous, I think I would be going to the principals officer and telling him/her that you think this teacher is in over her head. I would tell the principal everything you said here. Maybe it's time for a serious intervention.

Bahahaha. I just realized I said Principal's officer instead of office. LOL I REALLY hope you principal doesn't have an officer, that's a whole nother post.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

Wow is right. I can't get that "...can have a knot upside her head" comment out of my head! I know you are much more confronational than I am. If it were me, I'd likely go talk to the principal. Say the same thing you told us - and that you even offered to help her and she declined (which tells me she either doesn't see a problem with the kids just sitting there or she's in complete denial that she's doing the wrong thing or a wacko). In a meeting with the principal, say something like "I'm not trying to tattle on the teacher or get her in trouble or anything. I am just genuinely concerned for my daughter and her education and for all those other children she is labeling 'horrible'. I don't feel that's healthy for 2nd graders to hear adults they're supposed to respect talk to them like that...."

Also - maybe start documenting what Emily tells you. Contact Laila's mom and see if she has any concerns too.

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answers from New York on

I'd go straight to the principal and have a good long talk. The comment about the knot in her head - that's grounds for termination. That child's parents need to know what was said - but it should come from the principle.

I think it's great that you had this opportunity to go in and see for yourself what is going on. Nothing will ever change if everyone stands by and does nothing. Go in there and make it happen

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

You really need to speak to the principal ASAP about this. I am a teacher, so when I start to hear people complain about "bad" teachers I usually go on the defense of teachers just because I am one. However, what you wrote is appalling! This teacher needs to be monitored by school personnel on a regular basis, so she will start bringing her A game or administration can start documenting this poor behavior and help her be better or get her out of there. No child should have to endure that kind of personality. It is the teacher's job to provide a classroom environment that is safe, nurturing and fun for children to do their best learning possible. I am so sorry to hear this. Good luck to you and God Bless this woman and these sweet little kids!
Added: A word of advice, don't go in with guns blazing. You have a valid complaint that needs to be heard by the appropriate channels. However there is a saying by Mark Twain~ ""Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference." I think this teacher's behavior was brought to your attention because you seem to be a strong person to take the bull by the horns and stand up for these kids. Just always make sure you do it in a diplomatic and polite manner. You will get more respect and command more attention that way.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Screw being anonymous! I wouldn't have left the building without personally speaking with the principal the day before. Seriously, you know it's an issue & of course your daughter being treated poorly by her teacher after you've ratted her out is a concern, but if you just suggest the principal swings up to the classroom unannounced sometime to see for him/'ll have a leg to stand on if things get kind of ugly down the road.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Discuss your concerns with the principal. I'm 99% sure that recess is mandatory, and I can't imagine having a room full of kids with nothing to do for even 5 minutes.
Maybe she was having a bad day, but the principal needs to be observing her more if she is as awful as you describe. If you say nothing the class will continue to suffer, and your own daughter may get to third grade having NOT learned everything she was supposed to learn in second!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Is this a public school? Because I think recess is mandatory.
I'd call the school and ask about the recess policy.

As for the meanness and 2-facedness (is that a word? LOL) of the teacher, I'd react to that if it was directed at my child.

IF you observe unprofessional behavior when you're in the class, I would certainly report this to the principal. A principal should be able to handle this issue with some tact and grace so that he/she is not throwing you (or your child) under the bus.

Also, your 2nd grader should be able to give you a fairly accurate report of how often & just how much time they spend sitting , doing nothing, while she grades papers. At 7 or 8, I would believe what your daughter reports. If it seems excessive to you, again, I would report that to the principal...

I volunteer at our school and imo, FAR too much time & emphasis is spent on having the kids "be quiet" "line up straight" and move soundlessly from point a to point b. But overall, I think my son's school experience is a positive O.. And this particular battle is O. I can't win with the school. I realize the kids need to be quiet and orderly lest chaos ensue, but they go a little overboard...and it seems super important to ALL of the I let that go.

But if my son was being talked to in a disrespectful way, or made to waste time better spent on learning--something--I'd sure speak up--and I wouldn't be too concerned with remaining anonymous about it.

Most of the best changes in the world have come from *someone* speaking UP--so why not you, right?

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answers from Chicago on

Wow! Absolutely unacceptable. Is she a new teacher? An experienced teacher with tenure? In either case, she is clearly NOT doing what she is supposed to be doing.

I would bet that she doesn't have daily lesson plans, and that she just wings it from day to day. If a teacher has to grade during class time (like the kids just took a quiz, and she wants to review it,) she MUST give them something else to work on--reading, questions, play a theme-based "Hang-man"--SOMETHING. If she has problems with fitting recess in, it is totally her fault. I have never heard of a teacher that can't find time for recess.

Talk to the principal. Ask what the requirements are for the kids' daily recess. I bet they are required to give the kids recess every day, and she's somehow shirking it. Ask if the teachers have daily lesson plans. If they are required to have daily objectives, etc. She should be closely monitored by the school's administration, because she's either in the wrong line of work, or she just needs help getting her head above water. Yes, your daughter will probably be just fine, as she is a high-achiever. It is the other kids I worry about--much potential for kids to call through the gaping crack of her classroom.

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answers from Washington DC on


We are in the same boat. Except, thank God, the teacher isn't teaching my kids anymore.

I would complain to the principal. Put it ALL in writing..not just e-mail but a certified letter to the school...ESPECIALLY if you have video proof...then I would take that to the school board as well.

I would video tape from the door her screaming at the kids and her poor behavior. If she can't hear you knocking over her screaming, she won't be watching you video tape from the hall.

Our 1st grade teacher is this teacher. The school board director is working with me as well as the principal...i cannot in good conscience let her behavior go on. I can't. Our teacher told a child he was bad and needed to go home...oh my GOD!!! Further proof that what she said to Greg's first grade class about calling them stupid was not a lie...the principal cannot go into what he is doing but really - I'm talking to the parents of her classroom. I telling them not to fear retribution. They MUST take a stand.

These two teachers give all the great teachers we have bad names. I cannot and if Emmy was mine - I wouldn't wait 5 years to take my stand...please - DO NOT tape her behavior...get it all recorded and in writing..this W. should NOT be a teacher.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

Go to the principal now and report what happened while you were there, and that you do not get responses from her when you try to communicate. (allergy email) You've tried with her, even suggested donating your time to help her out and she refused. It's time the principal learns about HER behavior. Yelling and screaming at children in a teacher position is not professional.

I'm sorry, but grading papers should be done when her class is at their special area like art, music, PE, etc... or AT HOME! Her job while her class is in her presence is to teach, not yell and tell them how bad they are. She sounds like one of those women who thought that being an education major in college would be easy, and teaching is truly not her calling.

How can your daughter continue to thrive in a negative environment. I wouldn't want my kid to start hating school because of this nasty woman. Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Wow. You have got to be kidding. I would not want my kid in that class! The teacher sounds awful.

I would not worry about being anonymous either. This is a terrible situation and it needs to be changed immediately. If it seemed like a communication problem or something small, I would suggest talking directly with the teacher first, but AGAIN, WOW. It seems to me that many huge changes need to be made.

I think I would probably schedule a meeting with the principal right away and mention all the concerns you have. If you can, volunteer to assist the teacher however you are able, it sounds like she is very overwhelmed on top of not caring/needing more training etc. Let the principal know what you are willing to do to help, and find out what changes WILL be made (recess every day/ commitment that the children will not be yelled at or threatened).

Sure, the teacher may be upset with you, but she really needs to make huge changes. You might want to see about having your child moved to a different class if you are worried the teacher will take out her frustration with your complaints on her.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I would pop in unexpectedly if you can to observe at different times. Make notes of what you have observed. Tape it if you can. Meet with the principal shortly afterwards to discuss your concerns and then if that doesn't work move up past him/her. Maybe request your daughter be moved to another class? What that teacher is doing isn't right. But I would observe her a few more times before approaching the principal just to make sure this wasn't a one time occurance. Good luck!

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answers from Chicago on

Gosh, I wonder if this is the same teacher my child had for second grade. No I guess not, but I ended up switching schools because of her. She had to be the worst teacher I ever saw. But seriously, I would request a meeting with the principal. Describe everything and also don't forget all the other resources out there. School Board etc. Someone has to take note if your preliminary meeting doesn't work. She might have had a bad day, I don't know, but having worked with a few people like this also I would say that someone should recommend a different profession. They get burnt out to say the least at times with little people and are unable to be flexible. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

Maybe I am wrong, but I thought that recess was part of the school day. I can't imagine young kids not playing outside or in the gym. I am really upset by this "Laila can have a knot upside her head". Did she say this to the student? I am shocked that anyone would say something like that. I agree with another posted about stopping in from time to time and check out what’s going on. Can you record her with a cell phone camera? I would also have a meeting with her and the principle and talk about what you saw and heard. I know it is not easy for teachers with so many kids in the class, but she should ask to get an assistant if it is too much.

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answers from Tulsa on

Get your child out of that class today!

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answers from Houston on

Why is she even a teacher!?

I would definitely send an anonymous note first describing everything you saw. If things dont change then make it not so anonymous anymore and have your daughter removed from her class.

She has a right to a good teacher, but those other kids have a right to one as well. Id try to fix it first without making waves they cant transfer everyone.

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answers from Tampa on

hard to be anonymous... so I'd be blunt and ask why your child's class never seems to have time for a much needed recess? Also mention the teacher seems a bit frustrated or frazzled with the class, most likely to the kid's acting overstimulated because of the lack in recess... then ask what we (the principal, teacher and you) can do to ensure they get time for recess.

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answers from Washington DC on

I think you need to pass your observations to the administration since you already made offers to the teacher to help resolve the situation and spoke to her during the conference and you still don't agree.

It is very common for teachers to be pressed for time. One of my teacher friends teaches 1st grade and regularly grades papers at weird hours on weekends (in between caring for her father who has dementia). I don't see an issue with a teacher grading while the kids are working but if they are not busy, then she should be busy doing something with them or specify that they are having free time and not act like they are inmates running the asylum. That could be time for drawing, reading, music, a video, computers.... I would start with the lack of recess and build from there and try to be factual and not "how dare she!" when speaking to the administration. Tell them you are "concerned" about comments like "Laila can have a knot upside the head." No teacher should speak about a student that way, even if she might feel that way. She could have said, "they can both have candy" and left it at that. She's unprofessional on many levels.

My SD had a miserable teacher last year who went so far as to give her an F on a test she aced. The only reason SD did not drop the class was because it would mess up her senior year. We got the VP involved and also had them re-grade every student's final to determine what was going on with SD's F (which was an A...the school called it a "clerical error". Yeah....and pigs fly). Teachers like that just make it harder for good teachers.

Edit to add:

1. You are not the only parent concerned about recess and 2. even if your child is doing well academically, it doesn't excuse the teacher's attitude. She's tearing down children in front of their peers. Some children will grow and thrive anywhere (your child) but some do not have the "roots" to do that and if school is not a safe place with a reasonably pleasant teacher, they will be hurt. I also would not want my child to feel like yelling and making people feel bad is the right way to run things.

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answers from Charlotte on


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answers from Victoria on

I am usually on the Teachers side as they have a very tough job and parents are usually going out of there way to but head with them. I was thinking everything seemed reasonable or perhaps mistaken until i read about smacking the kid up sid the head! Have the principle notified about this. Hopefuly the principle will at least walk by the class and hear what is going on and have other teachers observe her also. See what you can do about being a room mom for an hour or so.


I am usually on the Teachers side as they have a very tough job and parents are usually going out of there way to but head with them. I was thinking everything seemed reasonable or perhaps mistaken until i read about smacking the kid up sid the head! Have the principle notified about this. Hopefuly the principle will at least walk by the class and hear what is going on and have other teachers observe her also. See what you can do about being a room mom for an hour or so.

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answers from Dallas on

Is there another second grade section? If so, have your daughter switched into that class and tell the principal your reasons why. If there is NOT another second grade section, go the the principal with your concerns and ask if there is extra staff, say, an aide, who can spend part of the day with the teacher. Also ask if there is a teacher mentoring program on campus or what sort of support there is for teachers as far as helping them lesson plan and schedule their time. Be positive - your goal obviously is NOT to get the teacher in trouble, but to provide her with whatever help/support she needs to do a better job.

please dont record her with your cell phone - that sounds weird and creepy to stand outside a classroom surreptitiously filming with your phone. The principal is probably well aware that this teacher is lacking but extra pressure from parents may cause her/him to act faster on it.

Of course the teacher wont be happy and with be upset with you. The alternative is to have these kids, and years and years after of kids, suffer for her lack of teaching skills.

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answers from Lake Charles on

I'd seriously find a way to put a recorder in my kids backpack.. set up to record the entire school day,since they never get recess it should be able to capture everything that goes on. Then when you have that go to the principal and say "I know that sometimes parents can exaggerate and the teacher can just deny anything so I wanted you to hear what I heard and saw", play the recording for him and tell him how your visit went, what happened when YOU were there and what goes on when she's not supervised.. tell him you offered to help her but she doesn't think there is a problem.. she verbally abused a kid for heavens sake! What if that mom found out the teacher said (because she had an allergy to peanuts) that so-and-so can have a sucker but she can have a knot upside her head??! I'd go to the girls mom and talk to her too... that's ridiculous!

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answers from Washington DC on

I agree something should be done. A couple of thoughts to add to what others said:

Are there other parents you know, who have kids in the class, who would back you on the lack of recess? As someone else posted, if it's a public school, recess may be mandatory. Check the policy with the school district office; get it written down (not your own notes, find it online or ask it to be faxed to you so you have it in official form). That's serious backup for you when you approach the school. Ask other parents if they too are concerned about the lack of recess and ask if they would be willing to go with you later when you talk to the teacher and/or principal.

I would talk to the teacher before escalating to the principal. First, I'd approach her with an attitude of "You seemed stressed and so busy that day--I'd like to talk to you about what I observed that afternoon." (Yes, you're angry and in the right here, but at least outwardly approach her with calm and a "what's going on" attitude-- in other words, keep your anger in check for the moment so you're not instantly branded "overbearing helicopter mom we all tune out and ignore.")

A few questions for you to delve into with her and with the principal if she's not responsive:

Is she inexperienced? Is that why she seems to have tiime management issues and be grading papers while the class is sitting there?

Is the class really losing every recess every day? Or is she keeping them in from recess occasionally as discipline for behavior? (Our teachers here will take away recess if even some class members misbehave, as a way to teach that the whole class pays the price if only a few kids act up. It can be effective, frankly, since the kids who didn't act up put pressure on the ones who did.) Is there another factor regarding recess that you aren't aware of? Ask her.

Is she personally under stress that would explain (but NOT excuse) her outbursts at the kids that day? She may not tell you if she's getting divorced, or caring for an ill parent, or in debt, or undergoing other stress. And no principal is going to divulge anything personal like that about a teacher to a parent. But it could be that there are factors at home that make her like this.

Was that one day an anomaly, out of the ordinary? Think -- does your daughter report a lot of yelling and nasty comments as a regular thing? Or was something going on that day in particular? Again -- not an excuse but an explanation. Big difference. There's no excuse for her comment about "knot (knock?) on the head" to a child.

Basically, I'd start with her before going to the principal; I'd repeat your offer of classroom help, which was great of you, by the way; I'd approach her with a "How can I help/My daughter's doing well in your class/But I am concerned about the lack of recess creating pent-up energy/And here's what I think I heard that day, can you explain..." Give her a chance to explain. Again! No excuse but an explanation! If she knows she's got one parent who has witnessed this, it may be enough by itself to straighten her out because she'll be so worried you'll report her or she'll be caught out again. But if she denies it etc. I would then tell her you are going to set up an appointment with the principal to discuss what you witnessed that day.

Don't wait too long to talk to her and/or the principal. If you wait it lessens your impact with both of them. I'd call her today and ask for an appointment Monday.

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answers from Richmond on

this teacher has mental problems , document everything the woman does in the classroom , if she is talking this badly about students with you right in the room , imagine what she says to these kids when a parent is not watching and listening.she has a god complex, and she needs mental help, talk to the parents of the other students, i will bet you 2 boxes of doughtnuts that the other parents will say the same thing about her,
then when you have several documented incidents of this teacher bullying her students, go to the superintendent, present your case, and tell him that if he does not fire this woman, he will be sued for allowing a teacher with obvious mental problems to be in charge of a roomful of students, tell him he has 24 hours to make up his mind, then you bring in the newscrew and the lawyers. tough, sure.. but your kid will admire you for standing up for her, and thats what mommies are for, right ?
K. h.


answers from Kansas City on

You're doing the right thing by bringing to the principal. You tried nicely to involve yourself to help her, she declined and said outright horrible things to about kids right in front of them.

Yes teachers need to vent, but vent on their own time, not in front of these young minds.

I know right now I'm the talk of the first grade teachers. It was very apparent at the field trip last week. But, when my daughter comes to me and says "B is getting hurt at recess by another student" and we told the teacher. I said did she do/say daughter said "I don't know"...

B's mom and I are friends and if it were Syd that this was happening to I would want to know. So I called B's mom and told her what Syd said. She had a meeting the next day with the principal and steps were immediately taken and the issue has been "resolved" for "now".

But of course all the teachers avoided me totally at the field trip (I knew I was going before the incident happened), but I don't care. They either need to do their job and supervise these kids, and teach them or get out of my way.

Keep us posted!



answers from Lafayette on

usually the chain of command is teacher, principal, superintendent

you've already tried the teacher...and considering the seriousness of the knot on the head comment, I don't think you have to try to fix the teacher first. GO TO THE PRINCIPAL--tell her everything, and be in that class as much as possible. If the principal won't do anything, keep going up.

My daughter's kindergarten teacher was not really teaching, and the kids were not learning much. The principal defended her to the end of the year, but she was really having personal issues and should not have been there. We left dd there for a variety of reasons. It sounds like your situation is so much worse, I would keep pushing to have your dd moved!

ds had a teacher who was so bad, we did have him moved. Get the parents together and gather information to present. The teacher stayed the year, but at least ds didn't have to be in the class! the principal changed her hiring practices because of this teacher-and we parents had to bring him to her attention (e.g., he wouldn't let them use the bathroom during the school day, no recess, he made simple math errors all the time, by october the kids had no reading lessons because he didn't know what to do...)

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