Communicating With Teacher

Are you bored with school? Do you dread going to school each morning? Are there one or two teachers who really make your day miserable?


Perhaps you can change that. This tape will help you figure out if your problems are teacher related and discuss general information about teachers, some specific things you can do to get your teacher responding more positively to you and what to do if you can’t make any improvements in the situation.

Before you can solve a problem it’s important to be sure you know what’s causing it. The major problems kids experience in school include: poor grades, poor attendance, disciplinary problems, peer problems and boredom. Some of these may have to do with the teacher and others have nothing to do with the teacher. Take an honest look at your problems. For example, if you’re getting a poor grade, is it because the teacher doesn’t like you? Or is it because you haven’t been doing your homework?

If you’re really comfortable with your behavior, and feel that on and look at why you’re upset with the teacher. Are you upset with the teacher for enforcing dumb rules or policies? You need to know that teachers have limited authority in any school system. There are rules made by the administration (principals and superintendents) and other policies made by the school board, and then there are many things about school that are regulated by the state and federal government! So remember there are some things your teacher can’t change.

Of there is a rule that seems dumb, that you feel the teacher can control, you have 3 options:

1) ignore it, in which case things in that class will only get worse,

2) live with it; it’s probably not the first unreasonable rule” you’ve had to comply with nor will it be the last. Do your best to be reasonable and accept what you can’t change, and

3) talk to the teacher; maybe he doesn’t have the control you thought, or maybe you’ll end up understanding just what the teacher hopes to accomplish with this rule; or just maybe the teacher will see how unfair it seems to students.

If you don’t want to confront the teacher about a specific complaint, there are some general things you can do to improve the relationship.

Positive words and actions are much more likely to change a person’s behavior than negative criticisms and putdowns. If you are able to start being positive with your teachers, it’s likely you’ll see some positive behavior from them. Some positive actions could include: voluntarily participation in class, meeting your teacher outside the classroom, telling your teacher if you felt a class or an assignment was especially fun, interesting or challenging. You could respond promptly when the teacher makes a request; make eye contact with your teacher when he wants your attention smile when it’s appropriate and listen. really listen. Remember, everyone likes and needs positive attention. It is a powerful tool that can change people’s behavior. Try to help your teacher let his positive side come through.

Your teacher has feelings, needs, and expectations. They also have stress at certain times from things relating to school, or in their own personal lives.

If you feel a teacher is rude. unfair, or unjustly critical of you. you might want to discuss it with the teacher. If you do want to discuss some issue, pick a time that is not teaching time and when neither of you will be rushed. Think beforehand about what you want to say. Try to make a statement about yourself rather than about the teacher. For instance, instead of saying “You were rude when you told me to shut up,” say something like, “I was upset about the way you talked to me in class.”

If you find that no matter what you do you still have a lot of problems with a teacher you could talk to your counselor, consider having your parents meet with you and the teacher, or you can simply try to make the best of the situation, realizing that the school year will end and you will probably not have this teacher again. Teachers, like the rest of us, have a wide range of personalities and styles. Some are easy going, others hardnosed, some are easy graders, some are very tough, some are interesting and good at what they do, and others are boring and hard to learn from.

You will always encounter difficult people in your life. Often they will be people you can’t avoid such as employers or relatives. Maybe the best you can say about a difficult teacher is that it’s an opportunity to learn to get along with a difficult person.

Most of this probably sounds over-simplified, yet the bottom line is that these are situations you will experience throughout your life. Learning to deal with them while you’re in school is a valuable tool and can make for a more pleasant time in and out of school.

We’ve discussed some ways to handle problems in school including looking at what the problem really is, ways to get along and how to encourage positive behavior. None of this is easy but if it’s successful and helps you deal more effectively with difficult people, it can be a valuable aid to you now and in the future. Thank you.

For additional support and resources please call our 24-hour Teen Hotline by dialing 2-1-1 or 954-567-8336 (TEEN.)

Teen Tapes is produced by the University of Wisconsin, Madison.