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unpopular teacher

(53 Posts)
tigermoth Tue 04-Jan-05 18:42:31

A new part time teacher joined my son's school recently. She takes year 6 two days a week. Since she joined, I have heard nothing but criticisms about her from my son and his friends. They hate her! Ok, I am talking to boys only, but when questioned they say all the class think she is way too strict and unkind.

Now these boys have very different personalities and aren't all part of the same gang. They are relatively well behaved on the whole. Most of them like the school and their other teachers a lot.

I just find it odd that so many different children can take such a definite dislike to one particular teacher. I wonder if the teacher (or her colleagues) realise what children are saying about her out of school?

I suppose the children could be jumping on the same bandwagon and criticising her because everyone else is.

She has been known to get a bit physical with the children - taps on the collar bone, loud shouting in the ear etc. I know my son feels she has physically overstepped the limits with him. I have spoken to the head about this in relation to my son. The head then spoke to my son alone and (I think) to the teacher.

Since then I have heard criticisms about her from about 5 or 6 other children (not physical stuff, just her personality and teaching style) and wonder if I should be more concerned?

Freckle Tue 04-Jan-05 18:47:42

Sounds a bit odd, but it may be just that she has a very different style from their other teacher and that they prefer the other teacher. IMO a bit of strict discipline in Y6 is no bad thing, considering they will have to deal with much stricter teachers when they get to secondary school.

If you feel very concerned about it, speak to the head just mentioning that you are worried by the reports coming from the class, as you feel that the children might not do so well in their SATS if they are unsettled. That should make the head sit up .

Any idea what the girls' views are?

coppertop Tue 04-Jan-05 18:49:06

The shouting in their ear would cause concern for me. I don't think it's appropriate. I know that my own ds1 (who has hypersensitive hearing) would react in a very bad way if someone did that to him. If she needs to shout then this should be done from a distance.

Do you know what the other parents think about this teacher?

tigermoth Tue 04-Jan-05 18:50:44

no idea what the girls views are, but I can do some digging around. Some of the other teachers at the school are strict but they are well liked and respected by the children.

I don't know how much stricter year 7 teachers will be, as I have no experience of secondary schools. Is there a big difference?

tigermoth Tue 04-Jan-05 18:54:06

I know one other parent is very anti this teacher. She picked up on the shouting close to the ear aspect especially.

As the teacher is so new I haven't had the chance to chat to many parents about her. I just find it odd she has made so many enemies in such a short time. I don't know what rules teachers follow generally with regard to physical contact and shouting at pupils. It would be useful to know this.

Freckle Tue 04-Jan-05 18:55:59

From my own experience (a very long time ago ), yes. Talking to other parents with children at secondary school, it would appear that these teachers expect much higher levels of discipline from their pupils.

Freckle Tue 04-Jan-05 18:57:20

Her behaviour might also be influenced by her previous school. If she has taught in a school in a "worse" area, she might have the attitude that any messing around, etc., needs to be stamped on hard straight away.

roisin Tue 04-Jan-05 19:08:58

I would speak to the Head again TM, it needs to be sorted out, Yr6 is an important year.

Last year ds1 had a supply teacher, and the children reacted in a similar way (partly because they all adored their regular teacher). Ds1 used to come out of school and rant about her all the way home - c.20 mins!

I didn't go in to school, because I presumed she would be there only very briefly: but in the end the class had her most days for about a month. I regret not having gone in to speak to the Head. There was not necessarily anything 'wrong' with this teacher, but the whole class-teacher relationship had gone badly awry and the children suffered for it.

tigermoth Wed 05-Jan-05 07:27:20

Well school starts today. I am not sure what to do. I do worry about the class/teacher relationship. I am even more worried that this teacher might start putting children off school generally. My son might have his moments but underneath he wants to please his teachers because he genuinely likes them and feels safe and respected at school. I'd hate to see those beliefs being undermined.

Yet on the other hand, is this strictness really just a taste of things to come? it hadn't occurred to me that the style of secondary school teaching could be so different. My son's school is quite a strict one, but small and very caring as well.

Freckle Wed 05-Jan-05 09:02:35

Would it be possible to speak to your son's other teacher, if you don't want to speak to the head? If this new teacher is seriously undermining the class's liking of school in general, then something needs to be done.

Rarrie Wed 05-Jan-05 12:21:46

Personally, I would be concerned about the shouting and tapping. Although I can only talk from my experience (I teach state comprehensive, secondary) we are not allowed to touch any student under any circumstance. I think the guidance (from the unions) is a pencil's length away. Also, I would consider shouting in the child's ear unprofessional (It would be a disciplinary offence in my school!). At my school we are not really supposed to shout at all, and if the teacher is good at discipline, I would not see the need for it - certainly I cannot remember the last time I shouted at a student! If it was a one off for very naughty behaviour, maybe but I would be concerned if this seems a regular thing.

As a secondary school teacher, I would not consider these forms of discipline used regularly as appropriate, and if it were my child, I would have concerns. However, what you should do about them though... not sure!

tigermoth Wed 05-Jan-05 13:50:34

Freckle, I have already spoken to my sons other teacher over one particular incident. It was at a meeting attended by the head and deputy head also, so they are all aware of my son's feelings about this new teacher. They noted things down and, I assume, spoke to her. This was a few weeks before term ended and from what my son tells me, her approach didn't soften in the run up to christmas. I thought it was only my son and one other boy who had a problem with her. Now, having had my son's friends over and heard them talk about her, I realise how unpopular she is. I am going to see what happens in the next few weeks. I have told my son to keep his head down. I accept I know little about teaching practice, so don't know if she is merely being very strict. I can't see how having the class hating her is doing her any favours, though. Surely this makes the pupils even harder to teach.

Rarrie, thanks for your take on this. It is hard for me as a parent to know how much physical contact is allowed in classrooms nowadays. This teacher certainly touches her pupils. She hit one of my son's friends on his arm with a rolled up paper. When he complained she did it again! Ok the boy was being cheeky and the teacher wasn't actually hurting him, but it seems odd to me, as if the teacher is not quite in control. This teacher is in her 40s and AFAIK is experienced. I hadn't realised shouting was also frowned upon so much. My son told me she was shouting so close into another boy's ear that her lips were touching his cheek.

Freckle Wed 05-Jan-05 13:56:04

The shouting sounds dreadful. I seem to recall that that teacher who was dragged through the courts on a trumped up charge of physical assault was later charged with other offences. These included banging on a desk with a ruler and shouting at children in the dinner queue. I think these charges were eventually dropped too, but, if the lea thought they were sufficiently bad to warrant charges, I wonder what they would think of your son's teacher?

Maybe your best course of action is to let things run to the end of the week. If your son comes home with similar stories, perhaps check things out with other parents and you can then present a united front to the head.

tigermoth Thu 06-Jan-05 13:45:21

Have to say this teacher has a very physical style of teaching. My son told me she prodded his head with her fingers yesterday to make him listen to her and stop talking. He showed me what she did and it hurt. Ok, he was in the wrong, but he says none of his other teachers have ever touched him like this. As he is in Year 6 and has been to three primary schools, he has had a lot of teachers.

roisin Thu 06-Jan-05 13:55:09

TM - this really does not sound good at all. Is she an NQT? I would definitely raise it again with the Head.

If she is new to teaching, rather than just a new teacher, she should have a mentor; and maybe needs some extra support and advice.

CarrieG Thu 06-Jan-05 14:01:04

If she's an NQT then shouting at the class generally sounds depressingly close to my memories of my first year teaching, when I had NO idea how to 'get the b*ggers to shut up' so I could teach them anything!

But not shouting right in a child's ear, & certainly not physical contact. & you say she's an experienced teacher? Hmmm. I'd definitely have a word - either with the teacher or with the head.

tigermoth Thu 06-Jan-05 22:47:50

She's in her 40s or 50s and as far as I know, she is an experienced teacher.

I am going to dig a little more deeply, see what other parents think of her before doing anything else. But I might well come back here for more advice.

hopefulmover Mon 10-Jan-05 06:35:09

tigermoth there was a similar experience in dd's class (although not physical) where one of the parents actually took her child away. New teachers seem to feel the need to be hard at first and ease up later on. The boys parents all disliked her and the girls parents were all grateful that someone was finally trying to do something about the boys misbehaviour. I often used to wonder if the boys parents ever saw their sons in a group and realised quite how bad they could be. I suspect they kept their sons away from the boys who used to set them off.

In the last year of primary school boys can become particularly difficult to handle and they play up for new teachers. My advice would be to take it easy for a while and see if they settle in. The complaints about the teacher in dd's class died down when the boys stopped testing her limits. I'd stil ask if she could find a different way to handle it than being so physical but recognise that the boys are probably being very difficult.

fisil Mon 10-Jan-05 07:48:20

TM, as a manager I've had to deal with teachers like this. They do exist, but are thankfully rare. I'm sorry your son is having to deal with it. I am always happy to hear from the parents - as a rule I will already be on the case anyway, but it gives me a clearer picture of what needs to be done and gives me evidence that I might not otherwise get (some teachers can be very good at hiding their difficulties from managers!). So please do talk to the head. I wouldn't say that Y7 teachers are "stricter" per se - it is just a different environment. And "strict" certainly does not mean "bullying" which is what shouting in the ear/tapping collar bones is.

roisin Mon 10-Jan-05 08:33:04

hopefulmover - I'm the parent of boys, and like most parents of boys I do "realise how bad they can be", and I know for a fact that Tigermoth does too - she knows exactly how difficult her son and other people boys AND GIRLS can be at times in different ways.

The fact is the behaviour of my son, her son, and other peoples boys AND GIRLS can improve or deteriorate according to the way it is managed. And I do not view what she has described as being likely to be conducive to improving the classroom behaviour, learning or building up children's self-esteem.

roisin Mon 10-Jan-05 08:38:22

Sorry - that was a bit of a rant - I think you touched a raw nerve there.

batters Mon 10-Jan-05 12:30:18

Tigermoth, sorry I missed this when you first posted. It does sound worrying. I agree that the prodding of your son is totally unacceptable. I can't quite see where this teacher is coming from - if she is aware her actions are already worrying people, why would she carry on with them? I also personally think that if a teacher has to prod your son and can't get her message (whatever that might be) home to him any other way, she is not very good at her job.

You sound as if you have been really patient to me concerning this matter and I know from your other posts that you are very aware of your son's stenghts and weaknesses when it comes down to his behaviour. I think that if you feel instinctively that there is a problem, you should trust yourself and take it from there. I also don't think it matters how the girls in the class feel towards the teacher - if your son and other boys are having problems then these need to be addressed. I think that the prodding incident may be an opportunity for you to go to the Head again and discuss matters.

I hope this helps.

tigermoth Mon 10-Jan-05 13:58:20

I definitely think the teacher has a problem if she has to use physical discipline on the boys. Shouldn't the rules and approach to discipline be broadly the same for boys and girls?

Hopefulmover, I know that you were not saying that physical discipline is ok for boys but not for girls. However, I want to make my feelings absolutely clear on this. It does not matter how challenging the behaviour of the boys or groups of boys is, if she is using phsiucal force on them only, it is even more wrong, IMO as it is sexual discrimination. I also think it is worrying for the other 'good' children, girls or boys, to witness a teacher touching children if they misbehave.

As you say, fisel, I am sure she is aware of parent's concerns so I can't understand why she is still doing this. I think you are spot on when you say it will do her manager a service to give examples of incidents.

What I am going to do is to speak to some mothers, particulalry those with girls, and see what they make of her. I will not mention my concerns outright, just see what the general reaction is.

Thanks for your posts, batters and roisin.

Marina Mon 10-Jan-05 14:01:03

Hm, good luck with this one Tigermoth. I think you are right to raise your concerns about this teacher pdq. I still have very upsetting memories of a primary school teacher doing this sort of thing to boys and girls and I know how traumatic it can be - and counterproductive too, of course.

Levanna Tue 11-Jan-05 02:50:14

tigermoth, I think if I were in a room with this teacher she'd intimidate me! Her behaviour sounds unneccesary and purely designed to threaten (unless it is an anger problem on her part?). Such an atmosphere can't be particularly productive in the classroom. My DD's aren't in school yet, so, I'm sure I have a lot to learn! But I can see this is a difficult position to be in. Though, I can honestly say, if an adult physically threatened one of my children; I would remove the opportunity for them to do it again, whatever the circumstances.

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