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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

10 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to Your Child’s Teacher

Remember, teachers are well-trained for their positions and know how to educate children from all backgrounds. Though you may mean well, please think twice before saying these things to your child's teacher.

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“He never does that at home.”

Your child may exhibit different behavior for different people than he does for you. But, chances are, the behavior has happened at home—picking on a little sibling can sometimes translate to picking on another student in class, for example According to a veteran teacher in Central Indiana, it is highly unlikely that “a child acts so impulsively out of character in a place when a parent wasn’t present.” Make sure to hear the teacher out and try to solve the problem as opposed to making excuses.

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“Well, my daughter said…”

It’s easy to be on the offense when you feel like your child is being accused unfairly, and though it’s justifiable that you take your kid’s side, there’s always more than on side of any story. “I think we live in an age where many parents feel that they have to protect and defend their children from the outside world… including teachers,” notes a teacher in his 11th year in Louisiana. “When faced with overwhelming factual evidence, sometimes parents have to realize that children make mistakes and sometimes don’t tell the whole truth.” Here’s how to handle it when your child is the bully.

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“I hate this school.”

Though your frustrations may be valid, if the school really isn’t working for your child, it might be time to find other options. Saying that you hate the school offends the staff and only gives your child the example they should have disdain for their place of education as well.

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“You don’t know what you’re doing.”

Though you may not agree with a teaching methodology or assignment, teachers are well-trained in school to handle classroom discipline and become masters of their subject. Most schools require ongoing professional development and that teachers earn a Master’s degree at some point along the line. If you’re frustrated about curriculum, note that that is often something outside of a teacher’s jurisdiction anyway. Remember, teachers are working hard.

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“You look too young to be a teacher.”

When I started teaching high school, I was 22. That is young, but at that point, I had finished my degree in English education and was already looking into starting my Master’s. However, I still get this annoying comment in my 30s. Remember that though you may be joking around, this can be construed as offensive, or indicative that you don’t think the teacher is experienced enough.

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“You are wrong.”

Teachers have experience and contradicting them, particularly in front of your child, only indicates that your kid now has permission to treat their teacher this way and not listen to them as they should.

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“I’m calling the principal.”

Though you may feel like you’re making an impact on the teacher, more than likely, you’re not, explains a kindergarten teacher. “It makes it harder for us to treat your child the same as other students,” one teacher notes. This will put teachers on the defensive and if a serious act hasn’t been committed, the principal is going to defend his or her staff.

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“Why didn’t you teach him that?

Elementary school teachers are responsible for a lot of milestones in your child’s education, but what they are not there to do is to teach them basics like tying a shoe, blowing their nose, sharing, etc. If your child hasn’t learned these things in preschool, make an effort to work on items not in your kid’s curriculum at home. Don’t miss the 33 things your child’s teacher wants you to know.

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“Why didn’t you tell me?”

One teacher notes that she doesn’t always alert a parent immediately to a behavior because everyone has bad days and there is no reason to concern a parent unnecessarily if no one is getting hurt. “Sometimes I am keeping an eye on something to see if it becomes a pattern or is just an off day,” she says. If you find out about something you feel you should have been told about, ask the teacher nicely if the next time that happens if you could get an email or text, particularly if you’re monitoring a specific behavior yourself at home.

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“You don’t have kids, so you don’t understand.”

Notes one veteran teacher, “As a childless woman, many women in the area in which I work think I know nothing about kids.” Not only does this detract from their education and experience, but you might be touching on a more serious personal subject for that teacher such as struggles with infertility, a divorce, or the death of a child. This only hurts your child’s teacher on a personal level and doesn’t do anything to solve the issue you’re seeking to get clarity on. Next, find out the 22 things your child’s principal is secretly thinking.

Julia K. Porter
Dr. Julia Porter has worked in Higher Education since 2008, following a career as a High School teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She holds a PhD in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech, an MA in English Literature from Brooklyn College, and a BS in English Education from Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis (IUPUI). She lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and rambunctious Australian Shepherd.