My Daughter Says Her "Teacher's a Bully"

Updated on October 01, 2010
K.H. asks from Arlington, TX
16 answers

My 5th grade daughter came home from school very upset yesterday by her teacher. From what I gather, they were working in small groups on a science experimemnt. Once the kids were done, they were visiting and one of them became too loud. My daughter and another boy were laughing at the antics of the "performer" when the teacher yelled at them and without a "quiet down" warning...gave them all zeros. When my daughter tried to explain and apologize, the teacher told her not to talk back and not to bother even telling her parents about it because "the parents will always lose and the teacher will always win".
She cried all afternoon, then when she got up this morning, it all started over again. I've emailed the teacher to get her side of the story, and even considered letting my daughter stay home today. I ended up sending her on to school because I realized she'd only spend the day stewing about it at home which would raise her anxiety levels about returning to class Friday. I knew she'd have to face it eventually, and if she went to school she might gain a sense of control in facing her teacher knowing I was dealing with this. She has ADHD and sometimes finds it difficult to control her impulses. She happened to have had to miss her meds yesterday because of some UNRELATED stomach issues ~ so she was probably feeling more intense emotions than usual. She's never reacted to any situation like this before and I am really worried. I'm having lunch with her today just to check on things....any advice would be appreciated!

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answers from Savannah on

That seems a bit harsh to me as well. I would schedule an appointment with the teacher to discuss what happened.

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answers from Phoenix on

That seems harsh to me too. I can understand getting on their case about noise level but a zero on an assignment and her comment about "the parents will always lose..." is crossing the line, I think. That comment is what a "bully" would say. I'd be upset too. Emailing to find out is a great idea. I hope her teacher will respond with understanding. Dealing with children takes a lot of patience and understanding. Good luck!

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answers from Austin on

I think you handled it well. You listened. and then you sent the teacher an email .
I do not care or her comment about parents and teachers, but I also suspect there was more to the statement than that.

5th grade teachers try not coddle the kids. 5th graders are the oldest students in elementary school and are expected to begin that transition into middle school.

They do this because next year in middle school your daughter will be expected to behave and pay attention at all times. Your daughters behavior from yesterday could end up having to speak with an asst. Principal. Disrupting classes in middle s school is just not tolerated. There is not enough time to deal with kids being silly in classes, so they are sent to the office.

Also I am sure in middle school Science classes have lots of behavioral rules because once again leading into high school, the Science experiments are more advanced. They are also expensive so if you mess up your experiment or someone elses, it cost money as well as time.

If she really cannot keep it together because of her ADD, you may want to consider getting an IEP, so that when these things happen, there is a plan of action for her.

Hang in there.. I was a talker and a jokster too. I needed reminders to keep it down and not bother or react to others.. Remember your daughter is about to go through puberty.. so get ready for some more melt downs. I am sending you strength.

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answers from Albany on

Hi K., I'm sorry you're going through this. It's an icky feeling when you feel your child has been wronged, and it's impossible to not immediately dive into the 'battle mode' when she comes home from school with a story like this!
That said, the likelihood that a teacher actually used the words you quoted in your post is very small.
There is a lot of teacher bashing on this sight, it hurts my heart.

I'm assuming you sent her teacher an email/letter with a heads up to your daughters ADHD at the start of the year and have already discussed your concerns about behavior/extra help/extenuating circumstances?

Unless there are cameras and recording equipment in your daughters classroom (and some DO have it), you will likely never get to the bottom of this He Says/She Says situation.

It may be better to take a proactive approach, working WITH her teacher to acheive what's best for your daughter. It is possible to form a bond even after having gotten off to such a rough start.

The goal here is not to punish whoever is not telling the whole truth (teacher or student), but to create the optimal envirnoment for you child's learning.

Call the teacher, make an appointment to see her, give her a chance, tell her how you feel when you hear these reports from your daughter. Come up with a plan, offer help, insight, encouragement. I'm pretty sure the two of you can come up with a better plan for the child in question then for you to go barging in with your fists up ready to save the academic word one lousy teacher at a time!

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answers from Washington DC on

the teacher may have over-reacted. or not. i can understand her frustration. it does sound as if your daughter is very emotional, and having missed her meds on top of it?
i'm sorry, but it sounds to me as if your best plan of action should be helping your daughter cope with a fairly common life occurrence, not dealing with the teacher. if indeed she did make the comment about 'winning' it was quite inappropriate, but honestly it sounds like a bit of a stretch coming from a kid who was already pretty overwrought.
it speaks well for your daughter that she is upset at getting in trouble at school. it shows that you have raised her to recognize correct priorities. but crying all afternoon and morning is overkill.
having lunch with her today is nice. but i wouldn't coddle too much. be calm and somewhat sympathetic, but basically she needs to stop crying, not associate with class clowns, and move on.

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answers from Saginaw on

I think your doing the right thing by emailing the teacher. Maybe even after the teacher explains her side, you could ask the teacher to have a meeting with you and your daughter so your daughter can air her side and feelings then hopefully the teacher will apologize too. If she did indeed say don't bother telling your parents...
Gosh that seems very harsh to me.

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answers from Chicago on

You did the right thing by e-mailing the teacher. If the teacher hasn't responded within 24 hours, place a phone call.

If the incident occurred exactly as your child described it, then the teacher's reaction was pretty harsh.

However, you have to remember that your child is in 5th grade and there are two sides to every story. I can only imagine being called out in class for misbehaving is embarrassing, perhaps mortifying for a child who is usually well-behaved. Please be sure to get the teacher's side of the story before forming your final conclusion. It could be drastically different than what your daughter described.

Once you've gathered all the pieces of the puzzle you can begin to move forward - either working toward making sure this inappropriate action by the teacher doesn't happen again OR making sure your daughter understands the importance of honesty and taking responsibility for the situation. Until you've heard both sides, you won't know exactly what happened.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Yes, I would ask the teacher if she really said "don't bother telling your parents because parents always lose, and the teacher always wins" If she did say that, that was highly inappropriate. I wonder if one of the kids in this instance, or even in her past experience has threatened to "tell their parents" over some consequence at school they did not like. Perhaps the teacher is a little defensive or bitter from having kids being rescued and excused by getting parents involved when they have been in trouble. I can understand she may feel this way, but she still needs to behave like an adult professional, she probably slipped up during a moment of stress. However, kids should see that parents and teachers are a united team. Personally, I would back up the teacher giving my child a zero if she thought her behavior wasn't acceptable, but it is that comment that is not OK. What I would do is tell the teacher you absolutely will back the teacher in giving her a zero if she thought that it was deserved, and it will be a good lesson learned for your daughter that she needs to keep quiet even when others are misbehaving. But you would like a sit down meeting, and for the teacher to explain and clarify for daughter that parents and teachers are on the same side, no winners or losers. If teacher denies saying this, I would confirm again with your daughter that is exactly the words she used, and get in touch with the principal. Again, stress that you are not asking to have her zero overturned, just not happy with the unprofessional commentary. I'm sure your daughter meant no disrespect by trying to argue her case, she's just a conscienious student very shocked and upset to receive a zero. Hers is an understandable reaction, the teacher's remarks were out of line.

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answers from Nashville on

I think you are handling this well. It sounds like the teacher is harsh - let's hope she was just having a bad day??? Maybe she has mellowed on it today and an email from you may help. If not, and she is really being this difficult, then next time something like this occurs I might speak with the principal. I know it's best to go to the source first and not go above her head, but if she is uncooperative you may need to seek advice from the principal.

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answers from Houston on

A fifth grader is how old?9-10-11? The adult ? No excuse for this teacher and don't take sides with her. She is off limits to respond to the children like this. Yes, I have worked with children and for the most, they are just enjoying life. Now, the grade thing,,,knock off 5 points but not a zero. Someone worked very hard to make their grade. Go straight to the principal, tell them of the situation and you, the parent, want a three-way meeting with principal, teacher and you. No children allowed. They would feel scared, threatened and intimidated by the teacher's presence. I had to do this once for my daughter in high school. Believe me, the principal is accountable for HIS employees behavior with your child. You leave them in his trust to protect them. Now, do not excuse this teacher for "having a bad hair day"...She is supposed to be trained to handle herself. If she can't take it, then she needs to leave teaching. Keep any emails you sent as proof you tried to communicate with the teacher. If other parents have concerns, too, ask them to do as you are doing. Groups are stronger than one. Then you are singled out as the "parent that makes all the trouble". I take an antidepressant and if I am out of my medicines, I do have an emotionally tuff time until I am balanced again in my system. It is a medical issue that must stay balanced. So do not come down on any child because of their medical needs. It isn't funny! Put the teacher on the spot in FRONT of the principal,,,'Did you threatened or not threaten my child and these children that....don't tell your parents, parents always lose and the teacher always wins?' No, wonder your child can't cope in that room..Even if the teacher promises to change, demand your daughter be moved to another teacher. The trust and protection issue with your daughter and this teacher is already destroyed. Yes, don't let your child use you as not being responsible for her behavior, explain that to her, but do not turn your ear away from this. Bullying is ZERO tolerance from children, how about teachers? Let me know. You and your husband, or a friend, go together and stand strong. Your child is worth it!

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answers from Washington DC on

Your daughter is also a preteen and the hormoes are a comin'!!
Talk to the teacher, find out what is going on. Tell her what your daughter said and let her know that if it ever happens again you will be speaking to the principal or the school board or the superintendant. I had to go all the way to the superintendant because of a principal before we got resuts but we did get results.
Now also remember your daughter missed her meds, is in a 5th grade classroom with maybe 26 others, they were out of line. But the teacher had no business saying that to her. And she was probably really sick of them by the time she did yell at them.

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answers from Columbus on

Depending on what the teacher says happend, I have some ideas for you.

It is never appropriate for a teacher, or any adult, to tell a child not to tell thier parents something, and lets face it, that statement was desinged to make these children feel helpless, which is different from the teacher being in charge or an authority figure. She is not always right, but she is always in charge, and the implication was that these children had to submit to anything she dished out, and that she would retalitate by "winning" if they complained. Bullies do this too, they tell the victim that they will get it worse if they tattle.

If your daughter has ADHD, she is entitled to have either a 504 plan or an IEP if needed, and if your daughter is accurate about this event, I would use this to my advantage. Even if she has not qualified before, I would be using this event as an example of my child's obvious need for a behavior plan that spells out how this teacher can treat her if this ever happens again. More or less, you regulate the teachers actions with an enforcable plan. If this is the only time this has ever happend, you make your point to, by drawing attention to how inappropriate this teacher was. You also let the teacher know that you will use advocacy to get what your child needs, and that she will not "always" win. The people who are supposed to win, are the children, that is why they are in school, to "win" an education.

I would be making the point loud and clear. It upset your daughter to the point where she felt anxiety. Don't let them slide.

An alternative is to check your schools bullying policy. Most school distriticts have them, and you, as a parent, can problably make a complaint. I would use the other strategy, you have more rights under IDEA and section 504, and the documents produced for children under these statutes are enforcible.

Good luck, I hope she feels better soon.


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answers from Corpus Christi on

First, if your daughter has diagnosed ADHD, does she have modifications in place at the school? If so, they may make the zero she received not a valid grade. I am sure a child with a short attention span has verbal and written warnings listed as a class modification so her teacher was too quick to issue her a failing grade. You may want to remind the teacher or your daughter's folder teacher/diagnostician that there are mods in place that need to be followed per the law.
Second, her threat was completely out of line. It shows she was quick to act harshly and had to make the threat to cover her tracks. There is a lot of teacher bashing on this site like someone else said in their response, but teachers need to be held accountable for their words and their actions and have no business threatening the children in their care. I was a teacher before becoming a SAHM. Threats and bullying are unacceptable and having students lie or keep something like this from their parents is even worse.
Wait a day or two for her to respond. If she doesn't, schedule a meeting with her and the principal. Let her eat her words when the principal takes your side over hers!
Good luck!

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answers from Dallas on

I know your main concern is probably the comment the teacher made, and as a teacher I know that is completely unacceptable. I would speak with her first and then the principal. I would even suggest the principal call each of the students in to ask them their "version" of what happened. On another note, in every school district I've worked in, a teacher cannot change a student's grade because of a "behavior" issue - other than cheating. It is unethical. If a student does the work, they deserve the grade. Behavior issues are totally separate from academic grades. You might want to play that card if nothing else gets her attention.

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answers from Dallas on

I give the teacher a 0 for bad behavior! You know in your gut nothing about this interaction was right. You were right to send your daughter back today because "we don't run from bullying, we fix it". You can tell her this situation was started by an adult and needs to be handled by them. Your standing up to this shows her what to do about bullying. Choose your words carefully and calmly and tell the teacher what you expect (fair, rational tx) and how this did not meet your basic standards. Everyone has bad days but the parent-teacher comment was about a power statement that did not do you justice and would leave the kids with a helpless feeling. not the empowerment in education you want! This is suppose to be a professional educator, hold them to it!

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answers from Charlotte on

Go talk to the teacher. Look at her face to face when you. Ask her to try to support your daughter, even if she doesn't like her. (I really think you should say it just like that.) She will try to backpedal and say that she doesn't dislike your daughter, but because you said it, it will put her on notice that this is what you'll be talking to the principal about if this stuff continues.

She had NO business saying that the teacher will always win. That was foolish of her. You make a big difference in how things go, K.. Her boss is the principal, you know. You can also go to the other parents involved and as a group, talk to the principal. I have not had to do this, but a woman I know did it with a teacher who was bullying several students. As a group they told the teacher flat out that they would all go to the principal and even the school board if things didn't change. THINGS CHANGED.

I have the utmost respect for teachers, but not this kind of stuff. Take care of it now before your daughter hates school forever.

Good luck,

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