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July 16, 2012 by Dr. Mandar V. Bichu
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“The teacher of his class is really strict. She made him stand the whole period.” “My daughter doesn’t understand that teacher’s accent at all.” “I am planning to change my son’s school from next year. I am not happy with the teachers.”

Don’t tell me, you haven’t heard these comments or haven’t ‘made’ them yourselves sometime or other. Teaching in the nurseries and schools is a specialized job and it is a fact that, not always specialists in that field are handling it. Knowledge of the subject, knack of simplifying it, kindness, understanding and discipline are the cornerstones of this profession. Many a time students and their parents are going to face a problem of having to deal with teachers who are not aware of these basic foundations of their own profession. Changing a class or changing a school is not a solution in most such instances. It is like changing a house every time the tap starts leaking. Instead you will have to tackle this issue in a cool and calculated manner weighing the pros and cons of every step. Let’s see what are the issues involved in this tricky question of handling your and your ward’s relationship with the teachers.

  1. Teach your kid the value of politeness, discipline and respect. These basic values are a must in life and many a time these virtues, rather than intelligence or wit, would win the day. Being regular, obedient, punctual and thorough in class-work and home-work is to be encouraged. This is a sure-shot policy to be popular with the teachers.
  1. Since time immemorial race, region, religion and relations have played a part in results of exams and interviews, still the cream has always risen to the top. You have to make your child realize that in life, one has to face unfair practices at times but the best always survive. Cribbing about every ‘injustice’ is not something you should encourage. Instead you should teach the child to overcome such obstacles with grit and determination.
  1. Many of the problems in the school stem from the unrealistic expectations of parents. The parents often judge innate ability and intelligence of the child wrongly. For you, your kid is the best in the world but that love and affection cannot propel him/her to the top of the heap. To reach there, both- inspiration and perspiration are necessary. One thing to remember for all parents is never to consider their child as ‘themselves by proxy.’ Don’t try to push the kids too hard to achieve scholastic ambitions and aspirations that remained unfulfilled in your career.
  1. It is fairly simple to judge a teacher’s performance through the child’s eyes. Sentences like “I like my teacher” or “I want to be like my teacher” are pointers that the student has accepted the teacher whole-heartedly. School phobia, imaginary complaints like headache or abdominal pain to avoid school or consistent negative remarks about teaching are danger-signs. Initially at least you should try and curb this tendency of the kid by making him see the good side of teaching. If these negative traits continue regardless then it is time to evaluate the problem in detail.
  1. While going to the root of the problem, you should try and see why the kid is not happy with the teacher. The most common reason is teacher’s attitude, which the child has perceived as unfair or unfriendly. Even a simple negative remark or a gesture by teacher in the class can often lead to student’s dislike for that person. Often you can solve this problem just by teaching the child to ignore these minor ‘offences’. The simple way of making them realize that these things don’t mean that other person is unfriendly or unfair, is pointing out their own occasional bad behaviour at home with you or sibs.
  1. Encourage your child to develop a one-to-one kind of a rapport with the teacher. Asking difficulties or queries about the subject in private after the class is sometimes preferable but it shouldn’t be made into a routine or an attention-seeking device.  Extra-curricular activities of the students like games, reading, writing, drawing or singing always provide opportunities to develop this ‘Student-teacher rapport’ as teachers, especially if sharing the same passions, are more likely to become friendly.
  1.  The quality of class-work, understanding of concepts and evaluation reports from the school will tell you as much about the teacher as the student, whether they are functioning well as a ‘team’. If you see problems in these areas, then it is time to discuss the matters with the teacher directly. Parent-teacher meetings with their cramped, crowded and time-bound settings are not ideal for this purpose but there you can make a start and get an appointment. Preferably meet the teacher in school surroundings only and do not make a routine of asking for this kind of special favour.
  1. While discussing problem areas in your kid’s scholastic record, never start off with aggressive and accusatory kind of a talk. It would just make the teacher wary and edgy. Instead ask him/ her, what are the weak areas of your ward’s school performance and how they can be improved. After listening to him/her, you put forward your views. Any unfair practices (including physical or emotional punishments) should be discussed openly and forthrightly.
  1. If and only if the unfair, unfriendly or incompetent teaching practices continue despite repeated discussions, you should discuss the matters about changing a class or changing a school with higher authorities.
  1. The teacher might know his subject well but might not know how to present the subject to the students in the class-room. Individualized attention is almost never going to be possible in a class of 30-40 students. Increasing workload, personal problems and personality of the teacher- all are going to play a major role in the teaching process. Parents have to be aware of these burdens of the teachers.

Teachers are the makers of the future of the world, the role models for growing minds. It is not just some profession to add some more to the family income. Unfortunately some of them don’t realize this great social responsibility and make this noble profession suffer in the process! But then which profession has remained immune to these problems?

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