What To DO When You DON’T Like Your Teacher

A student looking sadly into the distance as their teacher chats with another student

Do your child and their history teacher never see eye to eye? Do their chemistry teacher’s lectures make them feel like they speak a different language? Are they convinced that their calc teacher straight-up dislikes them?

You’re not alone. It’s not uncommon for personality clashes to occur between students and teachers.

The bad news? Personality clashes, both large and small, are a part of life. The good news? Learning effective ways to handle them is a crucial skill that your child can develop. Here are a few tips to consider when your child finds themself in conflict with a teacher:

Recognize the Commonality of Personality Differences

Personality differences are inevitable, and your child may prefer a different approach to learning than their teacher.

Maybe your child thrives in a highly structured environment, but their teacher takes a laid-back approach. Maybe they’re frustrated by the emphasis on busy work and strict deadlines when they prefer to work more organically. Maybe your child is highly sensitive, but their teacher is very direct.  

Encourage your child to find ways to align their skills with the instructor’s expectations. For example, if your child craves more structure in a laid-back classroom, suggest that they partner with classmates as accountability buddies or seek assistance from a parent, tutor, or teacher to break down tasks. 

Encourage Self-Honesty 

If your child is struggling with the course material, it may be tempting for them to view the teacher as the enemy. If a challenging test or feedback on a recent paper has frustrated them, encourage them to do their best to be honest with themselves. 

Teachers are an easy target for frustration, and it’s tempting to blame them when things aren’t making sense. Encourage self-reflection. Acknowledging struggles non-judgmentally is the first step towards finding solutions.

Humanize the Teacher

Remind your child that teachers are people, too. Despite being adults, teachers have bad days, feel unsure, and sometimes struggle to do their best every day.

Developing a sense of empathy for their teachers (as well as their fellow students) can make it easier to relate to teachers who aren’t on their wavelength.

Effective Communication is Key

Even if your child and their teacher don’t have the best rapport, emphasize the importance of effective communication. If your child has questions, encourage them to ask! 

Choose a form of communication that plays to their strengths. For example, if your student feels rushed asking questions in person, writing an email may allow more time to compose their thoughts. In contrast, if your child struggles to get their point across in writing, try asking the teacher in person instead. 

Timing is Everything!
Encourage your child to make sure they have enough time to discuss the question. If they’re running to catch the bus, emailing about an assignment the night before it’s due, or demanding to meet while their teacher is frantically preparing for the next class, it’ll be tough to ask an effective question (and gain the sympathy of their teacher)! 

Focus on the Course Material

When personalities clash, it can be challenging for your child to ask questions. Advise them to keep their focus on the material rather than the instructor.

Identifying specific examples of what they do and don’t understand can help the teacher provide the necessary information, even if they’re not getting along.

Seek Help When Necessary

If the difficulties persist and hinder your child’s ability to thrive in class, remind them that it’s okay to seek help.

Their guidance counselor can assist in finding productive ways to communicate with the teacher, navigate conflicts, and ultimately overcome challenges.

But what if they really, really don’t get along? 

It can be disheartening when you know your child is putting in their best effort, but they and their teacher just can’t click. As a parent, you’ve tried every tactic, but nothing seems to help.

The reality is that your child still needs to meet the course requirements. 

Personalized Tutoring Can Help

While you might not have much control over choosing your child’s teacher, personalized tutoring is an option that can help. A hand-picked tutor matched to your child’s academic needs, personality, and busy schedule can be highly effective for filling in the gaps when the in-classroom experience isn’t working.

Personality conflicts are a part of daily life. Just because your child and their teacher don’t see eye-to-eye doesn’t mean they can’t excel academically. With your guidance, your child can turn a frustrating situation into an opportunity to develop problem-solving and communication skills that will help them succeed in future academic, professional, and personal relationships.

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