Bullying is a hot button issue in schools across the nation, but what do you do when the bully in the classroom is your child’s teacher? Circle of Moms members whose kids have experienced this say it’s time to take action.
As a teacher, I used to be a little skeptical when I heard other parents complain about their child’s teacher employing humiliation or sarcasm in the classroom, but that stopped the year one of my own children was bullied by a teacher. I learned that teacher bullying doesn't always involve direct humiliation, a fact evidenced by the variety of stories told by members of Circle of Moms communities.
What Makes a Teacher a Bully?
One mom, who uses the screen-name “Loves My Kids," shares that last year her son was continually singled out by his teacher and “made fun in front of the class.” He started a new school, but the experience made him very hesitant even with this fresh start.
Mom Lisa C. tells a different, but equally upsetting, story. Her daughter’s teacher reportedly made bigoted remarks to the entire class. “I've thought about confronting the teacher during conferences, but we are concerned that our daughter may face the repercussions,” she shares.
Should You Talk to the Teacher First?
Amy T., who is both a mom and a teacher, asks that parents give teachers the benefit of the doubt in that regard. “A good teacher will not let feelings for the parents affect interactions with the student,” she says. She advises speaking directly to the teacher before talking to other parents or going above the teacher’s head. These things can make a teacher defensive, Amy says, and perhaps, “more likely to ‘take it out’ on your child.”
Not all moms agree. Richelle H. thinks parents should start by talking to the principal or going to the superintendent. Another Circle of Moms member, Patricia D., says plainly, “Contact the principal and file a formal complaint.”
Other moms recommend a compromise between the two positions. Brandee M. suggests: “Schedule a meeting with the principal and the teacher to get the teacher’s side of the story. A parent’s first instinct is to protect their child, but you need to remain calm and gather all the facts before you proceed."
Keep Track and Keep Notes
In gathering those facts, Circle of Moms member Carol T. reminds parents to ask your child specific questions to get a better sense of the situation, and to “document everything.”
As a stickler about keeping phone contact logs, cc’ing letters and printing emails, I couldn’t agree more. When we met with our child’s principal and teacher, we were taken more seriously because I had created what Circle of Moms member Holly B. refers to as a “paper trail.”
What all of these moms are describing is what I like to call the four “D’s” of dealing with a difficult or bullying teacher:
- Detect: Gather information by asking your child for details and examples of what’s going on. You may also want to ask the teacher to help you understand what your child is describing.
- Document: Keep a contact log, keep track of emails, phone conversations and playground encounters. In Holly B's words: “Document, document, document.”
- Discuss: Schedule a meeting with the teacher and if that doesn’t bring results, with the principal. Circle of Moms members advise moms to continue talking until somebody hears you, even if it means going to the school board.
- Dissent (in writing): File that formal complaint so that your concern is documented in the teacher’s personnel file.
If you get frustrated along the way, keep the words of member Flo W. in mind. She points out that while it’s probably not the first time your child's teacher has bullied a child, “You can try and make it the last time.”
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.