One problem teenagers face when they attend high school is how to deal with difficult teachers. Difficult teachers cause stress and thereby lead many normally happy students to having an attitude problem and receiving low grades. As parents, we will also have to deal with these teachers through our teens. So, it is beneficial to handle this problem as soon as it becomes apparent.
Types of Difficult Teachers
The problems I have seen with teachers through working with teens are as follows:
The teacher is not engaged in their classes. This is usually a new teacher who got a yearly position in a subject that is not their number one interest. Their lessons are given as if they are learning the material for the first time. They dole out the work but are unavailable to teens who may need help. They may even spend class time surfing the internet. The only way to really deal with this kind of teacher is to report the problem to administrators so that the next year they consider someone with more qualifications to teach the class. Then, help your teen with the class work or get them a tutor.
The teacher runs their classroom like a feudal lord. They are always trying to trip their students up, as if that is how children learn. Flying under the radar as much as possible is the solution here. Do not confront this type of teacher without having a third party present.
The teacher wants to be everyone's friend. This type of teacher never insists their students accomplish anything, so the students tend to not achieve their goals in that class. Dealing with this kind of teacher directly doesn't usually solve anything. Focus on your teen instead and be the person who insists they complete their work and reach for their goals.
The teacher believes their students are bad and they are there to make them learn. I've dealt with a couple of this type of bad teacher in private schools. I have had my teen use a 'kill them with kindness approach'. Smile, say 'thank you', study and learn.
The teacher just doesn't care anymore. You will see this with older retiring teachers who just want to get through their last couple of years. They go through the motions, but do not put forth the effort they have have done in the past. With this type of teacher, you will want to stay on top of your teen's grades, reminding the teacher to post them if needed, because you will not get heads up if your teen is doing poorly until the report card is out. Then, it is too late.
How to Deal with Difficult Teachers
Overall, when you see your teen dealing with a difficult teacher, here is how you should approach it:
First, define who has the problem. You and your teen have the problem. The teacher is difficult, but that isn't causing the teacher a problem. You cannot fix the teacher. You can only fix the problem you and your teen have with the teacher. Getting in this mindset will bring you to a solution much faster and one that is more goal oriented and successful for your teenager.
Second, deal with the problem you own. Explain to your teen - and if need be, to yourself in the mirror - that there are difficult people in this world and you need to learn how to deal with them. The best way to do this is by not allowing their misery to bring you down. Remember that it is their misery and you do not need to make it your problem. Throw up a positive attitude shield with a smile. Define your teen's goals and go for them. This takes practice. But once your teen does it, he will be able to bypass gloom and learn what he needs to learn in that class.
Third, teens will sometimes get caught up in what is fair and what isn't. You can agree with your teen that the way the teacher is dealing with them is not fair. But, life isn't always fair. Look to their goals and plan how to achieve them without letting the teacher's issues get in the way of what your teen wants. If they get caught up in the teacher's issues and do something wrong, like disrespect the teacher, allow them to face the consequences. This is another life lesson: Even though life isn't fair, you still have to follow the rules.
When your teen comes to you with little problems in class they feel are unfair - again, that's life. A pop quiz on information not even covered in class can be considered unfair. Your teen should be able to come to you and express their frustration over this "injustice". Agree with them, find solutions to the problem for the next time and move on. Let it go by finding something more positive to talk about or do. This will help teach your teen resilience though example(behavior modeling).I hope these insights and tips will help you help your teen deal with difficult teachers. If you have a specific instance of teacher conduct that you would like to discuss, post it to the Parenting Teens Forum and allow other parents on our community help.