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Having a word with teacher re: tricky subject

(100 Posts)
montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 17:24:20

Looking for some advice about how to have a tricky conversation with a teacher...

My son is a young Year Two (just turned six at the end of the summer) and I am a little concerned about his current Year Two teacher's attitude towards discipline.

He comes home just about every day reporting he has lost Golden Time or been shouted out for a range of seemingly minor infractions, such as reading the wrong book or wriggling in his seat.

While I have no problem with the teacher enforcing rules, it concerns me that he didn't seem to have any behaviour issues with his previous teacher and I don't want his experience with Year Two to get off to such a negative start.

Also, I have a friend who used to be a T.A. in this class last year, and she has reported that this teacher shouts at the children a lot.

Can anyone recommend a way of approaching the topic with her that is to the point, but not offensive or accusatory - I don't want to make things worse by alienating her, but I don't think constantly shouting at six year old boys for minor, and let's face it, entirely age-appropriate misdoings is the best behaviour management technique.

Any suggestions?

Doowrah Wed 05-Oct-11 18:07:14

I would give very careful consideration as to your Ds' approach to being in school just because he was fine in one year with one teacher does not mean that he has not changed, maybe he is relaxing more into being at school and is pushing it in certain areas because he feels he can. Do not judge the teacher who is settling this class in or listen to the gossip of the TA. A work with attitude may be best rather than my son was fine last year and its all your fault this year attitude, your son will have many teachers in his school life and he's going to have to learn get on in each situation that arises.

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 18:20:47

Do indeed want to take a "work with" attitude.

Just not convinced that shouting is the best behaviour management technique.

My initial thoughts are to go in and say to her that I am concerned my son seems to be having behaviour problems this year and feels he is constantly in trouble, and to ask what his particular issues seem to be, how I can reinforce this at home, etc.

As an aside, I work with children with behaviour problems so I do know that shouting is very often not the most productive technique, particularly not with young boys.

And it's not just my son who gets shouted out a lot, it would seem to be the whole class. The T.A. is widely experienced and I trust her judgement if she feels shouting is overused.

Doowrah Wed 05-Oct-11 18:37:54

Sorry montrealmum you may 'want' to take a "work with" attitude but you are not are you? The teacher shouts and you have judged the shouting as being poor behavioural management often personally directed at and affecting your son.

CupOfBrownJoy Wed 05-Oct-11 19:06:56

Agreed Doowrah

I don't think there is any way of bringing this up with the teacher without seeming like you are questioning her behaviour management (which you are, let's face it)

The teacher could be adopting an "enforce now, relax later" method to establish classroom rules.

I would also be very wary of a child saying a teacher shouts "all the time". This is purely a perception and its easy to say you wouldn't shout until you have a class full of 6 year olds asking the same question 300 times because they haven't been listening

Greensleeves Wed 05-Oct-11 19:09:35

I don't think the TA's opinions should be dismissed as "gossip", she is a professional who has worked alongside the teacher for a year

I would keep an eye on things and if it seems to be continuing I would have a gentle word with the teacher. Sometimes shouting at children too often makes them take you less seriously and makes behaviour harder to manage.

mrz Wed 05-Oct-11 19:22:46

A TA who gossips is very unprofessional Greensleeves

Why not ask the teacher?

Something along the lines " I understand my son has lost his Golden Time is his behaviour a concern?"

Greensleeves Wed 05-Oct-11 19:31:19

I've had loads of teachers and TAs tip me off about other teachers being a bit shouty, or very laid-back or whatever

bit mean to call her a gossip imo

but teachers who constantly harangue kids about petty things usually get what they deserve - nobody listens to them

mrz Wed 05-Oct-11 19:34:12

Actually Greensleeves I wouldn't call her a gossip I would stick with "disgracefully unprofessional" and hope I never have the misfortune to have her near a child of mine.

cat64 Wed 05-Oct-11 19:44:18

Message withdrawn

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 20:24:36

Doowrah. I don't think that "working with" the teacher necessarily equates to unquestioningly accepting everything she does. Surely there is a way of pointing out you have a concern without it turning into a slanging match? This is what I've come on here to talk about, though if your attitude is anything to go by, I guess some people can't accept any questioning of the way they do things without getting chippy. Hope you're not my son's teacher. Ha. Ha.

Greensleeves - exactly. This is my concern. Where last year if my son had been in trouble he would have been upset by it, this year he seems to have given up a bit about it / accepted it. Which is exactly what you want to avoid - the whole, well, I'm naughty, why bother attitude I often see kids slip into. That's why I want to deal with it, TACTFULLY, and proactively, before it becomes a major issue.

mrz, I agree with the questioning strategy, it's along the lines of what I was thinking of doing myself. And if you think saying a teacher is "shouty" is unusually unprofessional, I would respectfully suggest you've never worked in a school.

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 20:34:10

cat64, there is a parents evening coming up towards the end of November, but I don't really want to wait that long. In my experience, teachers get quite upset with parents who come in and are very upset over things that they've been stewing over for months without having said anything about previously. Best to get it out ASAP I think, before it tunrs into a big issue.

Whether he "deserves" the punishment or not is not an issue to me - it's "will it be effective in addressing the issue" that I'm worried about.

TheOriginalFAB Wed 05-Oct-11 20:37:59

I think it is irrelevant that you feel there has been no problems previously. Children change and he has a new teacher. It seems you want to go in and ask why your son has lost his golden time as if the teacher has been too harsh, rather than your child misbehaving and needing discipline/consequences.

DownbytheRiverside Wed 05-Oct-11 20:39:54

'And if you think saying a teacher is "shouty" is unusually unprofessional, I would respectfully suggest you've never worked in a school.'

Oh, I think mrz might know a bit about working in schools and professional behaviour. grin

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 20:49:17

OriginalFAb, you may be right. I only mentioned the fact he hasn't had this problem before to put it in context. It does concern me that he appears to have been in quite a bit of trouble and the teacher has never mentioned it to me at all, despite the fact she sees me every day after school. It suggests she feels that constant misbehaviour / punishment is par for the course. Again, I don't think it's a question of whether or not he is breaking the rules but rahter of whether the punishment she is dishing out is at all effective, which it doesn't seem to be if it continually recurs and is not brought to my attention. Therefore I must take the initiative to inquire about it.

Feenie Wed 05-Oct-11 21:04:19

'And if you think saying a teacher is "shouty" is unusually unprofessional, I would respectfully suggest you've never worked in a school.'

I think a TA telling a parent that a teacher is shouty is totally unprofessional too.

Have I never worked in a school either, then?

It's unprofessional conduct without a doubt.

You could arrange for the teacher to update you more regularly, since you intend to work together with her. In this way, you can help support the teacher if needs be and nip any naughty behaviour in the bud more quickly. I've found this can often improve behaviour quite quickly.

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 21:09:43


The T.A. in question worked with the teacher in another school last year, long before she had any notion that I would end up being a parent of a child in her class. She just said to me she was finding it quite hard to work with this particular teacher as the constant shouting at the children made her feel uncomfortable and made it more difficult to do her job.

Also, I do feel that if a teacher, headteacher, T.A. or groundskeeper has concerns about a teacher's behaviour and its effects on the children they work with, they are duty bound to bring those concerns to someone's attention. In this instance, it was irrelevant to me personally at the time I was told about it.

Will have to work with teacher more closely, but as I've said it's an unusual situation, since she hasn't told me about the "bad behaviour" herself.

Feenie Wed 05-Oct-11 21:19:48

It doesn't matter what you feel, I'm afraid - there is a professional code of conduct and there are proper channels for concerns, and gossiping isn't one of them.

Getting her to report to you behaviour regularly will ensure you get the full story - I agree you should be getting this anyway, if she is imposing so many sanctions.

WoodBetweenTheWorlds Wed 05-Oct-11 21:19:52

I agree - the TA is being completely unprofessional in passing comment to her friends on the teachers she has worked with. This is horribly undermining for the teacher. If she has concerns, she should discuss them openly with the teacher or take it to the head. If she doesn't feel strongly enough to do this, then she should keep her opinions to herself.

Feenie Wed 05-Oct-11 21:26:27

Hang on, in your OP you said:

Also, I have a friend who used to be a T.A. in this class last year, and she has reported that this teacher shouts at the children a lot.

and yet now you say:

The T.A. in question worked with the teacher in another school last year, long before she had any notion that I would end up being a parent of a child in her class.

Am confused

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 21:29:38

Feenie. Do you work in schools? Have you ever mentioned anything about anyone you work with inside school to anyone outside of school?

This is equivalent to saying that if you worked as a nurse with a doctor who you felt was a bully, and mentioned it to a friend of yours, that you would somehow be unprofessional if that friend ended up being referred to that doctor by some chance.

And anyway, it's not related to the question I asked, which was how to approach a teacher whose behaviour approach you are worried about.

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 21:30:39

Yes, in this class (Year 2) in another school, where the T.A still works.

Feenie Wed 05-Oct-11 21:34:03

I've been a primary school teacher for many years - if I thought a teacher was a bully, I would be telling the headteacher, not gossiping to my friends.

I have given you advice regarding the teacher and your ds.

montrealmum Wed 05-Oct-11 21:38:28

Talking to your friends about how you find the teacher you are working with does not preclude the possibility of speaking to the someone else on a professional level as well.

Anyway, I think we are agreed I should ask the teacher how I can help - but since she hasn't approached me, should I just say, "hey, XX tells me he is getting into a lot of trouble lately - anything I should know?"

mercibucket Wed 05-Oct-11 21:42:03

If I was worried about a shouty teacher I would speak to the head about discipline policy at the school and consistency across classes - ds' teacher is shouty but he doesn't seem fazed so I'm letting it slide. Every school has a shouty grump (ok maybe not every one) and it's part of life to learn to deal with it unless it's starting to upset them, but if it's too much then take it to the person who should be able to sort it out - the head

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