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My Son's Teacher Is Too Tough

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: The science teacher intimidates my eighth-grader. The teacher gives out demerits easily, only explains things once, and doesn't do any type of reminders for assignments that are due two weeks from the time given.

I feel as though this teacher should be teaching high school and tried to get him out of the class at the beginning of school, but the principal would not do it. My son is doing well in every other class, and I'm not sure how to approach this problem. There have been several complaints, from what I understand, about this teacher. I do want my son to be responsible, but it sounds like this teacher is unreasonable. Any advice would be appreciated.

A: Not all teachers are perfect. Not all teachers are fair. Nevertheless, your son is stuck with this teacher. For him, to succeed in this class your attitude is very important. Find something positive in this teacher, and communicate it to your son. Since he is a good student, he should appreciate the fact that this teacher is preparing him for the challenges of high school and later on college where the teachers will not repeatedly explain a topic nor always give assignment reminders. Also, it is certainly reasonable for the teacher to expect eighth graders to behave appropriately in class.

Think about all the difficult people and situations that you have dealt with successfully in the past. Then, be determined to help your son learn that he can navigate through this year with his science teacher. Obviously, he must learn to listen carefully in class and to be on his best behavior. Once he does, many of his problems with this teacher should vanish, and your son will have gained the confidence that he can handle similar situations in the future. Plus, once the teacher sees the effort your son is making, the teacher is likely to have a far warmer attitude toward your son.

Children usually do better in a class when they feel a bond with their teachers. This is a good reason for you to temper your criticism of this teacher as your son is probably adopting your attitude. Since you have concerns about what is happening in your son's science class, voice them to his teacher in a non-combative way. You may be surprised at what a good relationship you can develop with this person.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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