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Many cross paths with mean teacher

Kathy Mitchell/Marcy Sugar

Dear Annie: I am a middle-school teacher in California and would like to thank you for your wonderful response to “Frustrated,” who wrote about her son dealing with a “mean and degrading” teacher. You said to first talk to the teacher.

At Back to School Night, I tell parents that open communication between the teacher and parent is the responsibility of both parties, and that if they have an issue with something I am doing, I would appreciate the opportunity to explain myself before they go to my boss.

Sometimes teachers have a reputation for being “mean” because they hold their students accountable, don’t give extra credit, etc. I have always told my students’ parents that if they have a concern, they can meet with me, call me, e-mail me or send me a note. – A Grateful Teacher in Fontana, Calif.

Dear Grateful: Most of our readers were terribly upset with that teacher, and with good reason. We still believe it’s best to approach the teacher first, but sometimes that is not enough. Read on for more:

From Washington: If their son is on a waiting list to get out of the class, it means there are other parents who are displeased with this teacher. I’d recommend organizing the parents to take turns sitting in on the teacher’s classes to monitor her behavior and speak up whenever she belittles a student or otherwise acts inappropriately. After a few weeks of this, she might get the idea.

California: That letter brought up my worst nightmare as a parent. My bright, studious son barely survived fifth grade, his confidence shaken by the horrible teacher who belittled and bullied him. If it had not been for a brilliant, compassionate male teacher in sixth grade, he might have decided school was a bad idea. Tell “Frustrated” to be firm and demand a change to a new class – and mention a lawyer.

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