Classroom Etiquette: What to Do if You Believe the Teacher isn’t Making the Grade

Every school year begins the same way, parents and students head through the double-doors filled with excitement and anxiety especially when it comes teachers. I mean, this is the person who is responsible for imparting knowledge, character and life lessons every day for the next nine months!!! The person who will determine if your child’s behavior is excellent, satisfactory or heaven forbid, unsatisfactory!!

In a perfect world, all parents and teachers would be a symbiotic duo, communing harmoniously, communicating and working together for good. But this is the real world and well, some relationships are just dysfunctional. What can you do if you dislike your child’s teacher?

As a former teacher, here are a few tips I wished every parent would follow:

AC EubankVent

Parents are their children’s strongest advocate and rightfully so. But even the best parents have to admit to themselves that their children are not perfect and consider their child’s possible role in a difficult relationship or conflict. I suggest airing out your opinions to a spouse or trusted friend. Once you’ve said your peace, leave your emotions out of it and focus on the main issues with the teacher and how they affect your child. Then, consider what the teacher and your child could do differently for things to improve. Only then are you ready to contact the teacher.


If what the teacher is or isn’t doing seems crazy–chances are you don’t know the whole story. Do what is most convenient for you but make at least a couple attempts to meet in person or discuss the matter on the phone. Email is convenient, but not all things can be accurately translated through punctuation marks, capital letters, and emoticons. Carving out that personal time shows the teacher this is important and can help clear up any miscommunications. Parents know their children the best. The more you can tell the teacher about your child, their strengths and weaknesses, the easier it will be for the teacher to work with your child.

The Benefit of the Doubt

Don’t lose sight of the fact that the majority of teachers love their jobs and are professionals that deserve our respect. They have a heart for children and learning–educators do not want to make anyone’s life miserable especially when they will share the same room for months on end! Teachers do need to establish authority, manage a room full of students and model an age-appropriate real world scenario that includes consequences. Parents and teachers are on the same team, both want your child to learn, to love to learn and be successful.

Me imparting knowledge on my students back in the day..

Me imparting knowledge on my students back in the day..

Valuable Life Lessons

Chances are sometime during the twelve years in the school system, you may not love every one of your child’s teachers. You may try all these helpful hints to no avail. How you handle a difficult teacher relationship is even more important. Your child is watching you. If you have little respect and a bad attitude towards the teacher, they will too. Instead, use this as a valuable life lesson. As children grow up, they too will deal with relationships with friends, teachers, bosses etc… that prove difficult. Do not remove your child from the situation thinking that is the best solution. Instead teach them to persevere, stay respectful and focus on being their best self in a tough situation. They may learn more in that classroom regarding character and values than you ever thought possible.


Have you ever had to have a heart to heart with your child’s teacher? Please share your story below!

, ,

5 Responses to Classroom Etiquette: What to Do if You Believe the Teacher isn’t Making the Grade

  1. Sarah Nov 1, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    Sadly, we were in a situation last year that not only affected my child, but 36 others as well. I am NOT one of those parents who immediately goes on the defensive proclaiming their child is an innocent, perfect angel. Quite the opposite in fact, I know my son better than anyone and always meet personally with his teachers to share some of his tricks, he is a super sweet child BUT he has been known to use that fact to get away with being lazy…if he is allowed to! For example, he is extremely smart but when faced with something that doesn’t come to him as easy as usual, he would turn on the tears proclaiming he doesn’t understand…..and tears coming from a truly sweet child in general tend to melt hearts, melted hearts will sometimes do ANYTHING to stop the tears. When in actuality he just doesn’t want to work a little harder than normal…..back to the story, last year he had coteachers who literally could not stand each other and as a result, one never knew what the other was doing or teaching. They refused to collaborate, as a result ALL of the children’s grades suffered and 75 percent of the class failed at least one portion of the FCATS. Thankfully my son passed but the situation should never have went that far. As a group, the parents received apologies but no action from the principle. Those 3rd graders did get a real life lesson, but at what cost?

    • Mary Lauren Eubank
      Mary Lauren Eubank Nov 1, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

      That is tough and unfortunate. If something ever happens like that again, I would recommend going to the principal because he/she manages the teachers. For your specific situation having other parents with you explaining how the co-teacher’s behavior is negatively affecting the children but their academics would be a hard case to ignore. Like I said, there will always be an exception to the rule but I still believe the majority of teachers will put their class first. I hope your son has one of those teachers this year:)

      • Sarah Nov 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

        We actually did go to the principle, received apologies but no action…..she claimed there was nothing she could do because the school was already short teachers, etc. However, new principle this year and coteachers who work wonderfully together have made this year much more productive so far.

  2. Donna Mae Nov 1, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    This is a great article, MLE. Thanks for writing it. As a former middle school science teacher, I agree with your advice. I hope all parents read this and try to follow your advice. As a relatively new parent, I hope I can remember this advice when I am on the other side of the table!

  3. kathyjmb Nov 2, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Yes this is great! I think I like best when you say to give the teachers the benefit of the doubt. I think often parents are too quick to do the opposite…give their child the benefit of the doubt.

Leave a Reply

one + twelve =