Would You Say Something to the Teacher or Wait?

Updated on September 17, 2014
J.T. asks from Oradell, NJ
22 answers

I've written before one of my daughters is very sensitive. She's now in 3rd grade and got the teacher she really did not want because the teacher has a reputation of being very strict. This daughter is really well behaved. Every single weekly behavior report has been excellent since K. She really worries about getting in trouble. Hates the idea of getting in trouble. So that was the reason she didn't want this teacher - already worrying ahead of time she would get in trouble even though she so rarely gets in trouble! We as parents don't have to discipline her much either. On the academic front I don't think she's a genius but she's plenty smart enough. So far her homework has always been pretty easy for her though if she does get stuck, it upsets her. She's very hard on herself. But typically she has no problem with her math homework. Apparently on Friday afternoon the class was given some math problems to do. My daughter could get the numeric answer to the first one but she needed to explain the answer in words and she struggled with that part. I think she was afraid she was wrong or didn't know how to put it in words. After 10 min, the teacher asked if anyone was still on the first problem and my daughter and a few others were. She says the teacher then yelled "YOU WASTED 10 MINUTES ON ONE PROBLEM!!!" I know that a kid's point of view can be skewed but I have heard from many people this teacher yells. It's only been about 14 days of school and several children have already cried because she yelled at them. My daughter says how she's so strict though I don't think that's being strict. I think it's just mean. None of these kids were misbehaving this time. They didn't know how to do a problem and they're in 3rd grade and scared to ask for help. My daughter did ask her seat mate who couldn't help but it's all boys at her table otherwise and she's too shy to ask them and she didn't think she was allowed to get up from her seat to ask some girl friends for help. Remember - it's the very beginning of the year and she's shy and 8 years old. The teacher doesn't allow them to ask her a question until they've asked 3 other kids. So she could not go to the teacher. She was in tears telling me the story and how she hates math. That really bugs me as she does well in math and it's stuff like teachers yelling at her bc she's stuck on one problem that is going to make her really hate math. I was thinking of sending the teacher an email and saying how I know she wants students to handle things themselves but my daughter is shy and scared and it's the beginning of the year so I am stepping in this time. I would say "she cried bc she felt you were angry so I told her that likely you were not angry as she didn't actually misbehave." I would say that as an underhanded way of reminding her that getting angry at 8 year olds for not understanding is not cool... And then I would ask what my daughter should do if this happens again - get up from her seat and ask a friend? Or should I just wait and see if it happens again? It's sad bc my daughter is already starting to hate to go to school.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for answers. Please keep them coming. Some difference of opinions. Just to clarify. She is not allowed to raise her hand and ask for help. She has to ask 3 other kids first. That is a rule. In terms of the yelling, I agree that can be how a kid sees it but I have heard from many many people and parents this teacher yells and slams her hands down on the desk. So please don't assume this teacher doesn't yell. Parents have witnessed it etc. She's older and likely just hanging on until retirement. I also asked if the teacher was trying to explain that spending 10 min on a problem is not a good idea. I get that. But that's not how my daughter saw it and while I don't label the teacher mean to my daughter, I think it's mean. Guiding how to handle these situations is one thing and a good idea. Being angry the 2nd week of school seems too much. But I agree that my daughter is very afraid of being seen as not understanding and she does need to get over that. So likely I will explain that to her and see if this happens again. But end of day - I do think it's mean to speak so harshly to 8 year olds who are struggling. Even if she didn't actually yell, being mad at this stage seems mean. No one was being disrespectful or hitting or misbehaving. They were struggling. Get mad at an 8 year old for struggling and being confused?? I don't get that. Tell them how to handle it next time? Sure! Make several kids cry in class (who knows how many more at home like my daughter) in about 14 days of school?? I don't get that. And she hasn't had any volunteers yet. Too early in the year. I have met her and typically do volunteer. My daughter also has been quite reasonable about how she feels about the teacher until now. She's had many positive things to say so I was relieved it wasn't going to be a bad year until this. But I will wait. I think it's important my daughter at least tries to be more outspoken when she doesn't understand things. And given I've always heard this teacher yells, unlikely me saying something is going to change her anyway... But no one will convince me causing kids to cry so often is just a matter of style. Or maybe it is a style but then I think it's a lousy style to use on most young kids.

Also - I know everyone says this but I am not "that parent". We've really loved or at least really liked all the teachers our kids have had so far - about 9 of them. So not like this is a pattern. And I thought my daughter was rather insightful when she said it was Friday afternoon and the teacher was probably getting tired and cranky.

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answers from Raleigh on

As the mother of a sensitive 8 year old, I understand where you are coming from. My son has always had the sweet, young teachers every year. This year, he gets the seasoned career teacher. She pulls no punches and sets very clear guidelines and expectations- a little more firm of a teacher than my son is used to. I think this is great! People have different personalities, and I want him to learn how to adapt to working with people that aren't like him.
I know it's frustrating for you to see her get upset, but you have to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt. It seems unlikely she actually yelled at them- it was probably more of the tone of voice or firmness in what she said. I know that's how my son interprets "yelling".
Also, the next time she is stuck on a problem, she should raise her hand and ask the teacher for help. That's the general go-to rule.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You just described my daughter and her 3rd grade teacher. It was a very rough year for us, but we managed to get through it. My daughter did need to learn how to deal with a different type of teacher that year and it was hard. It was her last year teaching and she was MEAN!!!! She told the kids who were 7 (3 of them) that they should not be in 3rd grade and should be sent to 2nd grade. I know she meant this because of her age, but my daughter took it to mean she was not smart enough.

I discussed this with the teacher and things got a little worse the next few weeks. I let it go and it even out and we just talked about it every time there was an issue and I helped my daughter work through it. Honestly I think my meddling made it worse, but when I let her handle it, she was able to work through it. Was it the best year no, but she did learn there are different types of teachers and you are not always going to get the one you want.

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answers from Miami on

Ah geez - I want to go get that teacher fired.

Flashback - MY 3rd grade teacher, Miss Price, who gave a math test, and 2 people (the smartest girls in the class) made in the 90's. All the rest of us failed the test. Now what does that tell a normal person? It tells us that the teacher didn't teach the math lesson in a way that ALL but 2 kids could understand. Did this teacher care? NO. She lined us all up except the two girls and told us all that we were going to get paddled for our bad test results. All the kids were trying to get to the back of the line, and she said "Well, since everyone's trying to get to the back of the line, I'll just start the paddling at the back of the line." Those poor kids at the back of the line were just terrified. A tall, big boy was in front of me, and I was clutching his shirt and had my face in his back, crying. I had never been paddled in school and I was devastated.

She was never actually going to paddle the class. She just wanted us to believe it so that we'd be "scared" into learning the material.

It wasn't long before I was throwing up at school, J.. I was not a shy kid like your daughter, but this kind of stuff was too much for me too. And yes, I started to hate math in the 3rd grade. She made me feel like I was stupid. For the first time, I thought I wasn't good at an academic subject and that feeling never went away after that.

Fast forward to when my son was in 2nd grade - one of the 3rd grade teachers was like what you are describing. I knew all about the teachers because I was at the school a lot and I wanted to know exactly what my kids were getting into. The 3rd grade teacher who was notorious for being mean to kids was Mrs. Smiley. And there was NOTHING smiling about that woman. One of the moms I worked with on the fundraising told me that her kid had had her the year before and I pressed her for details. This is what she did and I think that you should consider doing this if you can't get your child in another teacher's class. She called a meeting with the other parents in the classroom at a local coffee shop, and almost half the class parents showed up. They discussed the problem, and they decided on the strategy. Then as an entire GROUP, they showed up at the school at the woman's classroom and told her that they needed to speak to her. She came out in the hall and this group of parents told her point blank that if she didn't stop being mean to their kids that they would go all TOGETHER to the principal about her. And if that didn't work, they'd all go to the school board.

This worked, J.. She changed overnight. She also worked with those parents, treated them respectfully, was good to the kids. It must have about killed her to do it. The next year she was back to being awful to the kids, including throwing a paper at one kid and giving him a paper cut to his face.

A new principal came in and quickly, she had that woman's number. She started riding her about her performance, and it wasn't long before she pushed her out of a regular classroom and put her into ESL. I felt sorry for those ESL kids, but at least there weren't many of them. She watched her like a hawk, too. The next year, the woman was no longer at our school.

So, what I'm saying is that there are different ways of handling things. I cannot imagine even thinking of this scenario until this other mother told me that she did this. This gal had chutzpah, I'll give her that. Without the group of parents, it wouldn't have worked. They totally faced her down. As a substitute teacher, and seeing the school world from both sides, I can only imagine how mortified I would be if I were the teacher and had this happen to me. But then again, I don't act like a beotch to my students.

The child whose face was cut by her throwing his paper at him? He was my friend's child. She tried going to the ineffectual principal (before the new one came along) to get her child into another classroom, and couldn't get anywhere with it. He had a medical problem that made it so he had to pee often, and the teacher wouldn't let him go to the bathroom. He would sometimes pee his pants and she'd be awful to him about it. I told her to go to the doctor and get a letter telling the school that the way the teacher treated him was bad for his emotional health and he needed a different teacher who would not tear him up emotionally. It wasn't until she presented this letter to the principal and said she'd take it up the chain to the superintendent, that she got results. Interestingly enough, they moved another little girl at the same time, one who sounded JUST LIKE your daughter. I wonder if that mother got a letter from the doctor as well...

As far as you emailing the teacher, I promise you that she isn't going to "get" your "underhanded way" of telling her that it's not cool to get angry at 8 year olds because they don't understand math. She doesn't care to "get it". She's going to treat them the way she does because that's the way she runs her class - by fear. You will have to be straight up with her and tell her that you do not want her yelling at your daughter. Yes, it's going to put some tension between you two. But she isn't going to be any nicer to your daughter if you tiptoe around this issue.

Honestly, I'd be in the principal's office so fast, trying to get her moved to another class. I'd be at the doctor's office too, asking for a letter. Your daughter is suffering emotionally and it will not stop.

The last thing I will tell you is what a different mother (from the ones I've talked about so far) told me about this woman teaching her son. She told me "That woman CHANGES children. My son loved school, his mind was open to concepts and learning, and she CHANGED him into a kid whose attitude toward school was no longer enjoyment of learning. Instead, school was something he dreaded and he had a hard time learning because she made him nervous and so unhappy."

Needless to say, I made sure my child was NOT in this awful woman's class.

I know this has been a long post, but I really think that you need to move heaven and earth to deal with this. They will tell you that she cannot be moved. It's not true. She can. But you will have to push until it gives to get it done. It's worth it, no matter what you think other teachers will think of you. (Honestly, some of them may respect the heck out of you for having done it. They know, THEY KNOW what this woman is all about...) So don't worry about being a pushy parent. Stand up for your daughter so that she has a chance here...

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

You have to ask 3 other 3RD GRADERS for help before raising your hand. NO WAY CHICK. DO YOUR JOB!!!!!!!

I'd contact the principle and discuss whether or not a different teacher placement might be better since it is so early in the school year. (BTW I try to let my kids advocate for themselves and work it out but I'd be all over this teacher!!!!)

I don't know how it is there in NJ, but here in KS if you have tenure you can be the worst teacher on earth and they can't/won't fire you. I find it really aggravating because in every other job your continued employment is based on performance.

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answers from Anchorage on

Honestly I don't see this as a teacher issue, it is an issue your child has. Mine had the same one. He was afraid to ask for help, afraid to stand out or be seen as not understanding. I had to stay on him all year about the fact that if you don't understand and you don't ask the teacher for help you will not get it, and then you will just get further and further behind. Some teachers have a more "mean" style to them (kids see it as mean, it is usually just that they will not put up with messing about). But even when my son had a teacher that did yell often (I volunteer in the classrooms so I witnessed it) I simply explained to my son that he will not always love the people that have authority over him, but it is an important life skill to learn how to function well despite that, and he did. Rather then attack the teacher as "mean" we used it as a learning experience and he grew because of it.

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answers from Washington DC on

Wow. I was your daughter years ago.

I have not read ahead and this may not be a popular answer but here goes...
I would talk to the principal, not the teacher, and beg, borrow and steal to get her into a different class with a teacher that is a better fit. This may be the catalyst for other parents to do the same and this teacher to be reprimanded or it may just be one mom helping one little girl have a better year in 3rd grade. 3rd is a tough enough year, as it is. I know we are supposed to teach our kids to be outspoken and resilient and get used to all different personality types etc, but being your little girl, myself, I know this is not the place to do that. Having a mean-spirited teacher will teach her nothing other than "school is a scary place and I want to go home!"

I really think this is the place to jump in and be mama-bear! Talking to the teacher will get you nowhere other than your daughter suffering the consequences. This teacher will not change. Head to the principal's office. Please keep me posted. I feel so badly for her.

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answers from Dallas on

There is no way I would not take action based on what you've described. Her teaching methodologies are horrible and she tries to get compliance through fear. She sounds like one of the 'bad' ones, so go on and advocate for your daughter already.

I would point blank tell the teacher that your daughter is in living in fear and crying because of school. Ask for a conference with the teacher and the principal to get this sorted out.

Don't be afraid of being "that mom", what does that even mean? The mom that refuses to let a virtual stranger scream at her child? The mom who is not afraid to rattle the cage to protect a few kids who haven't found their own voice? You don't need to be scared of the teacher or principal as if they are any kind of authority figure to you. Just relay your concerns and ask for a solution.

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter had a HORRIBLE 3rd grade teacher and we finally moved her the day after Valentine's Day because he pulled her in the hall and screamed at her for bringing cards in...though he never once told me no cards and even okay'd our request to bring in cupcakes. WHAT?!

We went through the same types of things. My daughter has always had straight A's, never been a behavior problem, and things just come easy to her. Homework took her 3 plus hours each night because she was so afraid of doing it wrong and the teacher getting mad.

My biggest regret was waiting so long to move her classes. She finished out the year with an AMAZING teacher, and we are so thankful for her 4th grade teacher who really turned her around again and made her love school again. I get what AKmom is saying too, in that we don't always like who we are around, but with teachers it's diferent - especially at such a young age. Some teachers scare kids to the point they don't want to ask to go to the bathroom, let alone help on a math problem.

If this were me, I would start to communicate with the teacher now. Don't place blame, but go in and meet with her. Bring your daughter. Tell her your story and get hers. Try to piece it together. If nothing is resolved, move classes.

I had to go all the way to the superintendent with our teacher that year because he was so bad, and multiple kids leave his class on a yearly basis because he's that horrible and parents won't deal with him...it's a shame.

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answers from Columbia on

I would encourage your daughter to work hard at doing this type of math so that she "gets" it. Help her to take pride in the results of her effort instead of focusing on and getting all wrapped up in the teacher's personality.

Truly, this is upsetting. But there's always going to be someone with whom we just don't jive personality wise. I'd work more with your daughter on showing her teacher (and herself) that she CAN do it and to gain confidence that way, based upon what she can control. She can't control the teacher being stern. She can control how hard she works to get better at math.

Now, I'm not condoning the teacher's behavior. But I'd wait on complaining. Work on the subject and if the problem with the teacher doesn't resolve after you feel your daughter understands the work and gains confidence, then address the teacher.

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answers from Norfolk on

What a great question and such a tough one to answer! I see pros and cons to both sides and wish I had a better response for you. Ultimately, I would wait. Give her a bit more time with her teacher and see how she adjusts. I would definitely keep a log/notebook of her interactions and incidents. Be sure to sign up for the first parent-teacher conference and definitely share your concerns. Good thing is that it is the perfect forum for this. Ultimately though if your daughter starts to suffer, then definitely request to switch teachers.

I think you have an open mind and are not too quick to switch teachers or call the principal. Good for you.

My friend's son had a first grade teacher of a similar personality and she crushed him. He didn't thrive and ultimately ended up repeating first grade. Once he got the proper teacher, all has been fantastic, but it cost him an entire year. Poor kid and such a trauma for the family!

On the other hand, my son's second grade teacher was a bit of a "yeller" but having volunteered a lot in her class, I could see that it was not "mean" or bad-spirited. She just raised her voice and flat out told the kids what the problem was.

Perspective is everything. Keep an open mind, watch your daughter and track her progress/incidents and re-address the issue (if there still is one) in a few weeks. Good luck!

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answers from San Francisco on

Ugh. My heart breaks for your little girl! This teacher sounds like a person who shouldn't be working with kids. Why is it the responsibility of even ONE other child in the class to be explaining work to other kids, let alone three? That seems pretty disruptive to the other kids' learning, and I can't imagine that an eight year old explaining how to solve a problem is going to be nearly as good as having an educated adult explain it. And frankly, the way many districts are teaching Common Core math is almost incomprehensible to a well-educated adult, so who knows if the information she would receive from her classmates is correct anyway. No wonder she hates math.

There was a teacher at my kids' elementary school who was a third grade teacher and had a reputation for being "strict." I volunteered in my daughters' classrooms (neither of them ever had this teacher), and on several occasions when the weather was nice and the classroom doors were open, I witnessed this teacher screaming at the kids. Actually screaming, to the point that I was a little afraid for the kids. You could see that at recess, some of the kids had been crying. I reported this to the principal, who did nothing. It was really disheartening to me. If you don't like kids, and you're going to be angry with them for not understanding a concept, you shouldn't be a teacher. Full stop.

If I were you, I'd make a point of volunteering in the classroom for the next few weeks. See how the teacher is with the kids. If you don't get a good feeling about how things are going, do not hesitate to ask to have your child moved to a different classroom. This is the age where kids, girls especially, start to internalize what kind of a student and person they are. You want the message your daughter is internalizing to be a positive one: "I'm good at math. I'm a hard worker. I'm good at figuring things out." It doesn't sound like this teacher is helping your daughter form those positive associations.

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answers from Boston on

All good answers below, from different perspectives. I think you have to decide if you actually think the teacher was being mean in this instance. (Not what anyone else has ever told you.)

If you do, and if you do not have a reputation as "that parent", I suggest you schedule a meeting with the teacher, explain that your daughter is working on her self-confidence and that she perceived that she was being yelled at. Then listen. Wait, wait and really listen. You should be able to learn a lot by what the teachers says. If she dismisses you defensively, then you may need to repeat your concerns and discuss them with the principal if they are not resolved. If she explains the circumstance differently, to your satisfaction, then you can work together to make this a better year.

Now, if you find that you are upset with classroom teachers regularly, then you might have to examine how that is helping. I'm not saying you are, it's just that my advice would be different.

As a former teacher, who worked with many wonderful teachers, I can still remember when, in my childhood, my Mom handled a situation at school, just once. That was in the good old days when a parent never, ever, interferred with what happened in school. She spoke to the principal with great dignity and certainty, and the teacher's very mean behavior never happened again while I was in her class. She told me that she had fixed the "misunderstanding", to not gossip about it, and to be the best student I could. I was so proud of her!

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answers from New York on

I don't usually recommend this, but I think you should meet with the principal and try to get her into a different class.

Is your daughter doing anything wrong? No, of course not. She's a little girl, and she's wonderfully sweet and sensitive. She may be a bit of a perfectionist, but ... that happens. Eventually, sure, she's going to have to develop a bit of a thicker skin and accept some bumps in the road, but that's a lifelong process. It's not a weeklong process, for the beginning of 3rd grade. That would be ridiculous and insane, to expect her to just change her whole personality and deal.

And, is the teacher doing anything wrong? Maybe, quite possibly, but not definitively. Some people are just ... loud. I've met plenty of people who seemed so loud and shouty at first, I couldn't deal with them for a minute. And then, if I gave them a second chance for whatever reason, they turned out to be the sweetest people alive. Sometimes there's a cultural component too, where a normal, relaxed tone in some families/cultures sounds like angry shouting to people from others.

But, this does NOT sound like a good match. Expecting the teacher to change her whole demeanor doesn't sound realistic. And expecting your daughter to suddenly, instantly get un-sensitive doesn't sound realistic either. So meet with the principal. Tell her/him that you do NOT, under any circumstances, want the message passed along to the teacher, but that this just doesn't sound like a good match, and you really think all kinds of problems could be avoided, just with a classroom switch. Principals (and bosses in general) are generally much, much more open to a "bad fit" message than to a "bad person" message.

If that really doesn't work, then, sure, sit down with the teacher. And with her, frame it as an issue with adjustment, with transition. You're sure your daughter will do wonderfully in the classroom, and you love the ... something, the material they're covering, the plants on the shelf, something, but she's having a hard time in the new environment, and she'll do much better if she can have a few girls as seatmates, at least at the beginning.

Either way, though, if you frame the problem in terms of the situation, not in terms of people being in the wrong, and if you propose a painless solution, well, that's generally a good strategy.

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answers from Dallas on

You heard your upset daughter's view of the situation.

Have you ever volunteered in the classroom during class time and witnessed this teacher yelling? Really, if a teacher does yell, it is a lot, not just a 1 time deal and it is looked down upon by the administrative staff as well. You just don't yell at children but sometimes, a child may perceive your voice as yelling if you speak firmly.

For starters, your daughter did not want this teacher and she went into school this year with this teacher with not so good attitude about the teacher. Has she even given the teacher a chance to get to know her yet? Have you taken the chance to get to know the teacher?

I have been in the classroom as a substitute for 14yrs now and we do not yell at the children. We do everything possible to help guide them and build their esteem, not destroy it.

So your daughter wasted some time, all students do that from time to time... she needs to learn to speak up if she needs help from the teacher. That is why we are there. We cannot read the student's mind.

Of course be an advocate for your daughter to empower her to speak up when she needs help. IF you choose to email or discuss this "incident" with the teacher, realize there is nothing "underhanded" going on. Be honest and don't play games... give the teacher credit... don't underestimate the teacher. They know when parents play games.

In the meantime, spend some time getting to know her teacher, volunteer in the classroom and above all, never ever speak negatively about the teacher in front of her.

ETA: I know you are upset per your SWH but think of it this way... this teacher could be the one that pulls your daughter out of her shell and ends up being one of the best teachers she'll have. I agree being angry at students is not right unless they are acting up and wasting time. however, STILL, you were not there to witness this perceived meanness. Also, maybe the teacher had a bad morning, is not feeling well, received bad news over the weekend and is dealing with it, etc... we all have our not so perfect moments so please don't judge her for the rest of the year on this bad day. You daughter has to learn how to deal with situations without getting so upset. I have a daughter who is a perfectionist and in 2nd yr of college. I know she puts undue stress on herself to make sure everything is perfect. She is still learning how to deal with that part of her personality.

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answers from Austin on

What do YOU want?

What does your daughter want?

Do you want your daughter to learn to speak up for herself, or do you want her to continue to be shy and scared?

Do you want your daughter moved out of this classroom because of the teacher? Or do you want your daughter to learn to work with this teacher?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself and then you need to decide how are you going to handle this.

It sounds to me like this is the perfect teacher for your child. She expects the children to ask for help first from their classmates and if they still cannot solve the problem then go to her. Your daughter should be able to to do this. It is not out of line for her to be able to learn how to ask for help.

So what can you do to encourage her? What will it take for you to have confidence that your child can do this?

Have you explained to your daughter that not every one is quiet, that just because someone raises their voice does not mean that they are angry or bossy. That the teachers behaviors are not negative towards your daughter it is just the way she is?

I also used to remind our daughter that she is in school to learn. That she is not expected to know how to do everything. That is why they are in school so that they can learn. Also Teachers like children that ask questions. This lets the teacher know what the children are struggling with, so that the teacher can explain it in different ways.

Do you need to encourage her to invite some of her classmates over to play at your home? Does she need to have a homework group once a week?

Does she need professional help? Is there a counselor on campus that could help you help your daughter?

You are perceiving your child hates school, but I bet she hates being so shy that she cannot speak up for herself. Believe it or not, I was like your daughter until 3rd grade, then I was forced to speak up for myself. It was a trans formative year for me. I was thrust into the limelight. The best advice my mother gave me that year was that, everyone wanted me to succeed. The teachers, my mother and father and my friends. She told me, everyone is waiting for someone to speak up, because over all most of my classmates, were worried about not knowing everything also.

My parents and my teacher said, the students that can raise their hand and say, I do not understand or I still need some help, were not going to get in trouble.

It was like these magic words changed everything. I did not have to be perfect, because guess what? No one is perfect and no one knows everything!

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answers from Washington DC on

I do believe you, and your child, when she says this teacher yelled. Some teachers do. It usually signals what you've identified here -- a teacher who is burned out and ready to leave, or on the other end of the spectrum, an inexperienced teacher. The fact you say other parents have reported to you that this teacher yells is a sign that it isn't just a kid's problem with perspective. Yes, kids often do see any critical comment or slightly raised voice as "yelling" but it sounds as if that's not the case here.

I would first work with your daughter on going to other kids for the required three tries. (A policy which I think is nonsensical in third grade, by the way -- I have no idea what the teacher really hopes to gain by it other than prove some point about kids "doing it on their own" when they may only be confusing each other profoundly.) But since it's the rule, I'd work with your child on being more assertive about asking boys (they do not bite) and, if getting up is allowed, I'd work with her on getting up. She should identify a few sensible, calm friends in the class and have a plan: Next time I'll ask Sally first, then Amy, then Billy. Role play it with her a little if that would help. Leave it at that and see what happens before you contact the teacher and mention tears.

It is a red flag, though, that your child says she now hates (and fears) math. I strongly urge you to go to the school counselor immediately; first talk to the counselor yourself, without your child there, then ask the counselor to meet with your daughter. Your daughter needs to know that the counselor does not "tattle" and tell teachers what kids have said (at least no good counselor does so unless it's part of an intervention the family wants and the counselor is involved in working with the family and the teacher together). A good counselor can talk to your child about how to cope and how to handle her shyness about getting up and her fears about being "in trouble." My own kid (13) is still very worried all the tiime about getting in trouble when she's good as can be - yet so stressed about trouble!

Do tell the counselor emphatically that your child who has loved school now says she hates math and school, and be firm in saying this is a real concern. I have seen kids with good attitudes be crushed and start to hate going to school because a teacher was a jerk. Some posts are noting that some teachers have a tough "style" but that is often cover for lousy teaching skills or other personal issues they're bringing to work.

Your daughter will have to face other teachers who yell, so I'd work first on your child's coping skills and on having her be able to get up and talk to the other kids better. But if your daughter continues to have fears, you might have to look into another class. Does this teacher teach your child only math or is she the ONE teacher for all subjects? If the former -- keep trying a bit longer. If the latter and this is your child's one and only teacher for all subjects -- keep close tabs on this and consult a lot with other parents you know and trust. You might have to move your child if the teacher does this in all subjects.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Of course you speak up. Whether or not anyone is at fault, your child is coming home unhappy and hating math. That is NOT the goal (or should not be) of anyone at her school. They need to know what is happening before it can be fixed.

I met with my son's gifted team last week. He was coming home scared of making a mistake in his math class. One of the other kids was in tears after the teacher spoke with him and my son was terrified he would be next (like your daughter he is a real rule follower at school). I mentioned this at the meeting and his teacher and the principal were really pleased to have the info. Turns out they are trying several new approaches to the rote portion of math (math facts) and they were worried the kids were getting a bit flipped out. They are fixing the problem. But they couldn't do that if they didn't know they had one.

Is your daughter's teacher mean? Maybe. But she might just be one of those people who needs to remember to smile (I'm one) or people think she is mad. She kids are way more sensitive to voice volume than others and some people just speak loudly. She may need to think more about that. But it is worth giving her the benefit of the doubt.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I don't have any advice to give you, just lots of hugs. I have a kiddo who is extremely sensitive to correction and a rule follower. Getting "corrected" (even nicely) was mortifying for her, and doubly so when she hadn't done anything wrong in the first place. And yes, that happened, oddly enough, also in 3rd grade. The correction was not from her classroom teacher, however, so it was easier to deal with, once I found out what the problem was. And that in itself was an undertaking, b/c she would not tell me why she suddenly didn't wan't to go to her Challenge class anymore. But she cried at night saying she didn't want to go. It had nothing to do with her Challenge class, or the teacher, but everything to do with an adult she encountered outside the building to get to her Challenge classroom.

Hugs to you and your daughter. Good luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

There are teachers that are retired in place. We had one for SD in 4th grade and SD hated her. She told us that she knew better because she was a 25 yr veteran teacher. We tried to tell her that we knew *SD* better because we were 9 year veterans of her behavior and schooling. Since we had just a few weeks left, we made SD stick it out, but if my child was crying this early in the year, I would contact the teacher to go over what happened and what my child was supposed to do. If the teacher continued to yell, I would consider things like speaking to the teacher in person or the school counselor or the administration, depending on the incidents. You might also compare notes with other parents about what is going on in the class if there is an overall problem that is not just about your kid. We did that when SS had problems in calculus with a particular teacher and many parents jointly approached the administration when it came to light that he was teaching all levels of Calc at the AP level and everybody was failing. SS barely pulled out a C in that class, with tutoring (he was smart enough to get a college scholarship and 5s on his AP tests, so we knew something was wrong).

So if you think something is up, start looking into it. Give the teacher a chance to explain to you and your DD the rules (like can she get up and go to another table?), but keep an eye on it and don't be afraid to speak up further if your child is unable to function in that class. I wouldn't imply that the teacher was not angry, but I would probably say that there is a disconnect in expectations and you need clarification because your child is frustrated and the incident left her in tears.

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answers from Hartford on

Different kids respond to different types of teachers, my son needs structure which he thrives on. This year his 3 grade teacher has structure and appears to be a good match for my son but I could see where he might not be great match for all kids. My son's 2nd grade teacher was not a good match for him. I would personally give school another 2-3 weeks for the teacher and kids to get settled. If your daugther is still having difficulty then set a meeting with the teacher to discuss different approaches with your daugther that might work. Sending an email stating an FYI this is what works with my daugther might be another good place to start before meeting face to face. The teacher may not realize that your daugther is as shy as she is.

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answers from Norfolk on

My son's taekwondo Master bellows quite a bit.
(He's deaf but has a cochlear implant).
It scares some kids a little at first but then they get to know him and what he's drawing their attention to and suddenly they no longer have any issues with the yelling - they learn not to take it personally.
Your daughter and teacher have a communication problem and they need to work it out.
Tell her 'Listen to the teacher and ask questions if you don't understand something'.
Sometimes the teachers that are the most challenging are the ones that end up teaching us the most.

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answers from Houston on

Answering as a teacher: This whole situation may not be true.

Answering as a parent: Go sit in on the class (UNANNOUNCED)

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