How Can I Do with This Kind of TEACHER?

Updated on March 07, 2017
C.C. asks from New York, NY
11 answers

Dear sisters,
I am troubled and worried by a problem for about half a year and hope to find any help and solutions for it.
We moved to New York City last July from an non-English speaking country. From September, My child attended a local school in his Fifth Grade. In school there is a basic course “ English Language Art”. The class is difficult for my child, however, he is trying his best to catch up and we also invite a tutor to help him.
The teacher of “ English Language Art” in his school did not help him anything because she insists thinking that it is not her responsibility to help him catch up . It should be someone else. She have done things like these which we think are not right:
1/ She does not provide the learning materials, books, working sheets, used by other pupils to my child.
2/ She ask my child to sit in the corner at the end of the classroom. His neighbor classmate bully him because of my child’s language. The teacher does not do anything.
3/ The situation is continuing further, she does not permit my child to attend her class which is preparing for the state examination.
4/ She never encourage my child, even my child has done something better or trying his best.
5/ She is rude and has said” shits on you” or other dirty words to the students. She will put her one foot on the chair when teaching.
I am reluctant to say that some of her behaviors are racial discrimination or prejudice. I do not want these things to continue and I want to listen to your suggestions how I can do!
Thank you!
Yours C.

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answers from Boston on

Where did you get the information you have about the teacher's language? From your child? If you're child is not a native English speaker and neither are you, isn't it possible that there's a misunderstanding? For example, I have never heard "shits on you" anywhere in the US. I wonder if the teacher said something like, "If you don't finish, it's on you." So the "sh" from "finish" get attached to the "it's" and your child misunderstood. Or maybe some other kids thought it sounded like "shits" and they started giggling or talking about it during lunch. "It's on you" is a common expression meaning, "It's your responsibility."

Who told you about the foot on the chair? Did you witness this yourself? If not, it's from your child, right? And what is the problem with a foot on the chair? Does that mean something really negative in your country? Even if it happened, is it possible the teacher was climbing on a chair to reach something high up? Perhaps she has a sprained ankle and was taking the weight off the injured leg. It could be anything.

Why do you think she is withholding books? Is it possible that your child is working on something different because of his ESL program?

Is it possible that your child is in a parallel program, that he's in the regular class for some things but is using other materials and taking different tests because he's not a native English speaker?

Did you go to the school's parent/teacher conference? Did you discuss this with the teacher? Find out if there is a translator who speaks your language as well as English who can also attend meetings so that there is no misunderstanding due to a language barrier. Also meet with the coordinator who handles all the kids in the school like your child, who are learning English as a Second Language. Find out what the plans are, the books, the extra help, the tutoring.

Find out about the school's bullying policy. You cannot assume that the teacher hears every single remark that every child makes to another child. Maybe she didn't hear it. Maybe she spoke to the bully directly without your child hearing it.

I think most of this is a misunderstanding or just plain incorrect info. I also think it's possible that your child, like so many others, has told you that "the teacher doesn't like me" or "I'm trying my best and she doesn't see it." Some kids who are not trying their best are happy to make excuses to their parents.

And I disagree with the person below who said you need to get into that classroom every day. That is not allowed in most schools! It's inappropriate to have parents in classes hearing everything that other kids are saying or hearing what the teachers and aides say to various students with medical issues, learning issues or language issues. You absolute do have the right to request that the school psychologist, principal, assistant principal or guidance counselor spend some time in the room observing, however.

It seems to me that you have worried about this for 6 months and you didn't understand what your parental rights and responsibilities are. You have the right to go to the school and express your concerns, but also say that you aren't sure what has really gone on in the class and you would like it explained to you since you are not familiar with American schools. If you go in with a cooperative attitude, you will learn much more.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I think you should investigate seems like there might be some misunderstandings.

For example, "shits on you" is not a very common phrase here in New York City. "It's on you" - THAT is a common phrase. So, for example, the teacher might say: "If you do not take time to practice your math problems, it's on you" - meaning, the student has only himself to blame if he gets a low grade in math. But I can understand how that might sound like: "If you do not take time to practice your math problems, shits on you!"

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

A few things:
1 - have you had a parent-teacher conference? If not, request one right away. For what it's worth, it's probably not her job to teach him the language. She has a whole classroom of kids she has to prepare for state exams. She can't slow everyone else down to teach your child the basics (sad but true). Ask her how you can best support your child, and ask her how the school supports her in the classroom when she's trying to each (there should be a specialist or someone else that comes to help). Ask her to move your child away from the bully - maybe she doesn't know it's happening. Kids that pick on others are very good at waiting until the teacher's back is turned so they don't get caught.

2 - is this a private or public school? You have more rights in a public school than you do in a private school. You may want to meet the principal to get clarification on the ESL (English as a second language) services provided by the school. If it's a public school, they are required to provide services. If it's a private school, they are not required and you may need to transfer your child to a school that does provide services.

For your 3rd point - ESL kids don't take the regular language arts exam in new york. They take a special exam to see how well they are learning English. The teacher is helping your child by not making him prepare for this test because he doesn't take the test. He is better off spending his time learning English. Once he's fluent in English then he will take the state language arts test. She is doing the right thing in this situation.

I also agree with everyone else that I think your child misunderstands with respect to #5. Chacha's explanation sounds most likely to me.

In total, I think you are misunderstanding a lot of what is happening here. I really suggest that you talk to the teacher and also the principal so that you can better understand the system. Good luck.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

I agree with others who have encouraged you to visit the teacher. I think you should ask if your son is required to take the state assessment tests, or if by virtue of not having English as his first language, he will take a different kind of test or none at all. Simply inquire whether he''s required to take it and if so, what kind of preparation the school provides for students who are not proficient in English.

Perhaps your child is not being given the same materials and books as other students. I have extensive experience tutoring students who are not fluent or functional or literate in English. Often their classroom materials are different from the other students. Your son may not being neglected, but instead he may be receiving specialized instructional materials. Ask to see what his classroom instruction materials look like. To a child, it may seem like he's being ignored, when in fact the curriculum offered to him is exactly what he needs to master English and catch up.

I also have experience from the other perspective, as a parent of children in a foreign classroom. My husband was deployed to a remote third-world island, with no American facilities, as the United States military liaison to the host country. My children attended a small school which the US selected for them (there was some instruction in English and it was the only safe choice). The first language was a European language with which we were not familiar, the second language was an obscure island dialect, the third was Spanish and the fourth was English. My children were 2 of 6 American children among all 350 students.

I noticed significant differences in the teaching methods from America. The teachers were more vocal in their encouragement and praise than in the US schools my kids had attended. US teachers were more casual, sometimes sitting on the desk, or placing a foot on their desk or chair, being more approachable. In this island school, many teachers were Hindu or Buddhist, and they were very formal in the classroom. Most classrooms had statues or shrines on the desks or in the front of the classrooms, and the teachers wouldn't have dreamed of sitting on the desk, or disrespecting the sacred space. Perhaps you're comparing the more casual atmosphere to a more respectful classroom environment that you're used to.

It may not be racism. It may be cultural differences. Get to know the teacher in a non-confrontational way, in a way that shows you want to learn how the US educational system works, and what services your son is provided with.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Have you discussed this with the teacher? OR are you getting this directly from your child?

1. The teacher should NOT be denying him worksheets, textbooks and other items that he needs to help him learn. That needs to be addressed with her.
2. If your child is being bullied, that needs to be reported. What is being said? So many times today if someone says anything its bullying. Not saying he's not but again not knowing the context or content is hard for me to completely judge on that.
3. IS your child able to participate in the state examination?
4. She should encourage students but its not a requirement.
5. I suspect your son is not understanding what she is saying. I am going to go out on a limb and say she has an accent and sometimes words sound differently than what they are saying.

Unfortunately, its not her responsibility to catch your child up. That is yours so I am so glad to hear you have a tutor for him. That will most definitely help. I have lived in a foreign country and its not easy.

I am also going to say be very careful when you make statements about racial discrimination or prejudice. Our culture and yours is different. What is accepted here might not be in your homeland.

Please start with the teacher first. If you are not satisfied with the answers, talk to the principle. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Have you communicated with the teacher?
Is the story you just posted what your child told you?
Have you personally witnessed any of this behavior?
Have you asked for extra materials?

I've been in education 16 years and I have never experienced what you are talking about. It is important for a teacher to model the behavior he or she wants the children to have.

Does the school have an ESL program? Your child should be in that program which involves the child being pulled from class several times a week by the ESL teacher and taught the curriculum in a small group of children who are learning to speak and understand English well.

COMMUNICATE with the teacher... express your concerns. I find is very hard to believe that the teacher is doing everything you are talking about.

Go sit in the classroom (unannounced) and observe the classroom dynamics.

Before you go to the principal, talk to the teacher. Before you EVER suggest racial discrimination or prejudice make sure you have FACTS and not hearsay from your child or others.

I understand that English may not be your primary language and you need to make very certain you are not misunderstanding the situation at hand.

If indeed a teacher is like this, then that teacher needs constructive help from his/her superiors and more classroom training.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I don't know what plans were in place to help your son adapt to school in a new language. I'm not familiar with what's expected of teachers in this situation.

Is he able to follow along and participate? If so, I don't know why she wouldn't allow him to be part of the class. If he's struggling and not understanding, then I think intervention is needed.

Talk to the principal. I'm assuming you've already talked to the teacher about this all.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Contact the principal. What you described is not right. Try to stick to the facts and not paint your perceived ideas (racial discrimination /prejudice). Let the facts proof this.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

You need to talk to the teacher and if the situation does not improve, go to an admin.
1 - She is not legally allowed to withhold textbooks, worksheets, or other materials from individual students.
2 - The bullying needs to be stopped. If the teacher won't stop it,bring in an admin.
3 - What do you mean she does not allow him to attend class? Is this her regular class or an after school, extra-curricular class? Either way, he needs to be allowed to attend, but if he is being excluded from class during school hours, the admin needs to know.
4 - While atta-boys are nice, she isn't required to give them. Let this one go.
5 - Are you sure she is cursing at the kids, or is your son's lack of English making him think she said something she didn't? If she is cursing at students, the admin needs to know. I don't see why her putting her foot on a chair is a problem unless she's flashing the kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

It is not the teacher's job to catch your child up--that is your job. The teacher has to teach a group of 30. You have to teach one. Get on YOUR job.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Volunteer at the school. Go to that classroom every day and observe her doing this. File a formal complaint.

He is going to be held back if she's not teaching him what he needs to pass this class.

I would also call the administration office of your school, no, go there and ask to speak to someone that is over kids that use English as a second language. They should have accommodations for him in the classroom.

1 mom found this helpful

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