Author Topic: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.  (Read 4079 times)

secondcor521

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Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« on: December 24, 2017, 11:19:41 AM »
My son has a personality conflict with one of his high school teachers.

He is a junior at a private IB high school and is happy there.  The teacher in question is his English teacher.  If it matters to your advice, she is a young, smart, perceptive woman who seems to be a pretty good teacher.

My son tells me that even other students can see that she doesn't like him.

His grade in her class is lower than what he thinks it should be but is still reasonably good.

Switching schools is not an option.

Options I've thought of:

1.  Have him suck up - write papers and take viewpoints she likes.
2.  Have him ask her for specific measurable steps he can take and then take them.
3.  Have him appeal his semester final grade based on the rubric.
4.  Ask for advice from either the school guidance counselor or the school administrator.
5.  Ask to have his final papers calibrated by an out-of-school teacher (the IB does this regularly, but I don't know if it can be requested).

I don't particularly care about his grade; I more want him to enjoy his last two years of high school and also the life lesson of finding ways to get along with people.

Advice welcome.  If you need more details to give advice please ask for them and I'll do what I can.  Thanks.

startingsmall

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2017, 11:32:47 AM »
What is the basis for his claim that she doesn't like him?

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2017, 12:01:10 PM »
What is the basis for his claim that she doesn't like him?

+1.

2 and 3 are very reasonable. And depending on your answer to the above question, 4 and 5 may be reasonable. But learning that sometimes, people in power over you have friction with your personality can be a valuable life lesson, and learning how to work through that. Maintaining an internal locus of control in the face of personality conflicts like this is really important. Frankly, it's situations like this that, if mishandled, can lead to a kid developing an external locus of control and a major antiauthority/persecution complex. Depending on the degree of "injustice" here, it may be really important that you NOT feed into his sense of "this isn't fair, it's not my fault, SHE is wrong." That's where I think 4 could be very important- another adult perspective closer to the situation.

I guarantee you, if your son goes on to college, there WILL be an asshole prof that IS unfair. It's important for him to have the toolset to advocate for his interests, while simultaneously having a future-focused and self-responsibility driven view, and avoiding a persecution mindset in the fair of Bullshit Professors. External locus of control is a key predictor for university attrition.

GoConfidently

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2017, 12:23:43 PM »
Former high school teacher here. Yep, personality conflicts happen. Teachers are human. She doesnít have to ďlikeĒ him as long as she treats him fairly and grades his work in an impartial way.

Why does he think his grades should be higher? Are her marks ambiguous or unjustified? Is it possible that sheís being ďharderĒ on him because she feels like heís not working to his potential or is accelerated in his learning?

Option 2 is the best. Have him (alone first, donít jump to a parent conference yet) meet with her and ask specific questions about grades that he feels are unfair. If there are specific behaviors that are bothering him, he can ask about those too in a non-accusatory way (i.e. when you do xxx it makes me feel like xxx). I say non-accusatory for several reasons. First, sheís imperfect and may not realize her bias. Second, she may have different intentions or reasons for acting/marking him the way she does than what he thinks. And lastly because itís a good lesson in developing working relationships despite personality conflicts for your son.

Itís also worth asking if he likes her. If he is drawn to this young, smart woman and doesnít think she likes him as much as other male students, it could be a jealousy issue. His friends could be confirming his feelings even if they donít see favoritism because they want to be supportive. Or if he doesnít like her he may be inadvertently displaying signals that he doesnít like or respect her so she responds with similar behavior and it feeds a cycle of dislike. The truth is, you donít really know because you arenít there in class.

In a perfect world, this wouldnít be an issue. In the real world, having a mature conversation is the best way to get both parties in the same page and work toward a resolution or understanding.

scantee

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2017, 01:31:45 PM »
What is the basis for his claim that she doesn't like him?

+1.

2 and 3 are very reasonable. And depending on your answer to the above question, 4 and 5 may be reasonable. But learning that sometimes, people in power over you have friction with your personality can be a valuable life lesson, and learning how to work through that. Maintaining an internal locus of control in the face of personality conflicts like this is really important. Frankly, it's situations like this that, if mishandled, can lead to a kid developing an external locus of control and a major antiauthority/persecution complex. Depending on the degree of "injustice" here, it may be really important that you NOT feed into his sense of "this isn't fair, it's not my fault, SHE is wrong." That's where I think 4 could be very important- another adult perspective closer to the situation.

I guarantee you, if your son goes on to college, there WILL be an asshole prof that IS unfair. It's important for him to have the toolset to advocate for his interests, while simultaneously having a future-focused and self-responsibility driven view, and avoiding a persecution mindset in the fair of Bullshit Professors. External locus of control is a key predictor for university attrition.

This is great advice.

I'm a huge believer in the idea that we can only control ourselves and our own behavior. So, even if this were 100% the teacher's fault -- and I think that highly unlikely, most negative interactions are jointly owned, even if one person is the worse aggressor -- it will be helpful for your son to adopt the mindset that he is partially responsible for why things aren't going well. If he can accept that, the next step will be for him, with your coaching, to think through ways he can change his behavior to improve the situation. Have him think of a specific negative interaction he had with her. Talk through it to see if he can identify whether there was a tipping point that made things so sour. Develop a list of things he could have done differently. Have him try something from the list next time things go sour. Evaluate what worked and what didn't.

This is a great teaching moment for a young adult. As others have mentioned, he is going to encounter situations like this throughout his life and you won't always be there to solve his problems for him. Having several tools to address or cope with personality conflicts will be vital to his well-being as an adult. 

Rimu05

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2017, 01:52:41 PM »
If I had a penny in HS for how many people thought a teacher didn't like them when it was clear the teacher actually didn't give a shit, I'd be FIRED.

To be fair, High school was when I came to America and I was appalled at how so many students would misbehave and when the teacher called them out on it they would storm out of class as if the teacher was unfair. I also was appalled at how people handed in mediocre work and got upset over their grades. Evidently, the African system overworked us.

I remember in college reading this kid's essay and flat out telling him if the professor gave him a pass for it, I'd be very shocked.

Nonetheless, English really is based on the teacher and professor you get and after a while, you learn how to adjust to them. I had a teacher who gave me As and told me I could be a writer. I have kept that essay even now. I then had a professor in literature 1 who gave me a C+. I don't think she hated me, but her and my writing were a complete clash. She was the one professor, I just had no clue what she wanted. I even went to the kids with the highest grades and asked them to read their essays (part of the class was editing other people's essays), even reading their essays did not clear up what her grading basis was. What was bizarre is she gave me a B+ on one essay that I wrote overnight for that 8AM class... I moved on to literature 2 and got a B+ for my essays.

What I did. Read what the teacher is asking for. I had teacher's make corrections on my essays and that helped. In Highschool, my teacher allowed you to consult him before submitting your final draft, so I took my essay to him and had him advise me before submitting it. Also, have the teacher clarify why the have scored you low. Teacher's often underline mistakes, etc.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2017, 01:57:46 PM by Rimu05 »

secondcor521

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2017, 02:35:51 PM »
Good replies and insights from everyone.  Thank you very very much.

What is the basis for his claim that she doesn't like him?

He's mentioned things in the past that I don't recall exactly now, but:

1.  He thinks his grades in her class are lower than they should be considering the differences between (a) his opinions of his own papers compared to his opinions of other kids' papers and the relative grades - i.e., he writes a "better" paper and gets a "worse" grade than his classmates, and (b) his ability/effort vs. his grade in that class compared with his ability/effort vs. his grades in his other five classes.

2.  Other kids agree that she doesn't like him.

3.  In my parent teacher conferences with her, she has essentially expressed disappointment with his performance.  He is a smart and talented kid who coasts on those attributes much more than he works hard at things to get even better.  This bothers her, and I can see how bother and disappointment can lead to dislike.

4.  Related to #3, she sees his talent and I think it is quite possible that she is trying the strategy of being fair-but-tougher on him to get him to respond and improve.  With some kids it works but with my kid I think it is backfiring a bit.

5.  I think earlier in the year he was complaining that she called on him less than other kids, even to the point of ignoring his raised hand while nobody else had raised theirs.  I'm not sure I believe this, but it's possible I suppose.

Former high school teacher here. Yep, personality conflicts happen. Teachers are human. She doesnít have to ďlikeĒ him as long as she treats him fairly and grades his work in an impartial way.

Why does he think his grades should be higher? Are her marks ambiguous or unjustified? Is it possible that sheís being ďharderĒ on him because she feels like heís not working to his potential or is accelerated in his learning?

Option 2 is the best. Have him (alone first, donít jump to a parent conference yet) meet with her and ask specific questions about grades that he feels are unfair. If there are specific behaviors that are bothering him, he can ask about those too in a non-accusatory way (i.e. when you do xxx it makes me feel like xxx). I say non-accusatory for several reasons. First, sheís imperfect and may not realize her bias. Second, she may have different intentions or reasons for acting/marking him the way she does than what he thinks. And lastly because itís a good lesson in developing working relationships despite personality conflicts for your son.

Itís also worth asking if he likes her. If he is drawn to this young, smart woman and doesnít think she likes him as much as other male students, it could be a jealousy issue. His friends could be confirming his feelings even if they donít see favoritism because they want to be supportive. Or if he doesnít like her he may be inadvertently displaying signals that he doesnít like or respect her so she responds with similar behavior and it feeds a cycle of dislike. The truth is, you donít really know because you arenít there in class.

In a perfect world, this wouldnít be an issue. In the real world, having a mature conversation is the best way to get both parties in the same page and work toward a resolution or understanding.

Yes, I don't care if there is a personality conflict as long as she grades him fairly.  Right now I am giving her the benefit of the doubt there and am mostly treating the situation as the two don't get along and how can he work through that.

As noted above, the bolded part of your post is very likely the root cause in my opinion.

I am pretty certain he doesn't like her and the jealousy thing isn't what is happening here.  She's a nice enough person and if they could get this conflict out of the way I think they could get along just fine but she wouldn't end up as one of his favorite teachers.  I didn't say it explicitly originally, but he gets along very well with his other six teachers.

I'm not sure he could navigate his way through that kind of conversation.  He probably does have some locus-of-control problems that could get him in trouble in those kinds of talks.

Thanks all, additional suggestions/feedback welcome.

startingsmall

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2017, 03:27:36 PM »
Good replies and insights from everyone.  Thank you very very much.

What is the basis for his claim that she doesn't like him?

He's mentioned things in the past that I don't recall exactly now, but:

1.  He thinks his grades in her class are lower than they should be considering the differences between (a) his opinions of his own papers compared to his opinions of other kids' papers and the relative grades - i.e., he writes a "better" paper and gets a "worse" grade than his classmates, and (b) his ability/effort vs. his grade in that class compared with his ability/effort vs. his grades in his other five classes.

2.  Other kids agree that she doesn't like him.

3.  In my parent teacher conferences with her, she has essentially expressed disappointment with his performance.  He is a smart and talented kid who coasts on those attributes much more than he works hard at things to get even better.  This bothers her, and I can see how bother and disappointment can lead to dislike.

4.  Related to #3, she sees his talent and I think it is quite possible that she is trying the strategy of being fair-but-tougher on him to get him to respond and improve.  With some kids it works but with my kid I think it is backfiring a bit.

5.  I think earlier in the year he was complaining that she called on him less than other kids, even to the point of ignoring his raised hand while nobody else had raised theirs.  I'm not sure I believe this, but it's possible I suppose.

Meh.

1. English is so subjective that I don't know he can possibly be able to compare his papers to other kids'. He may not know what she's looking for. Likewise for his grades in English being lower than other courses.... so what? We all have subjects that we're stronger in, and subjects that we're weaker in. If he's surprised by his grades, though, he SHOULD go talk to her and find out what he should be doing differently to earn better grades. I remember having one teacher in high school who almost NEVER gave A's, and I'd always been a straight A student. I gave up my lunch period one day to meet with her and ask for all of her suggestions on how I could boost my grade in the course. Like your son, I had always been able to coast by on intelligence alone (and this was at a gifted school, no less).... but she's the first teacher who ever taught me to take notes on the required reading for the course, make flashcards to prepare for tests, etc. It was a HUGE learning opportunity for me. I DID get an A in the class... and learned study skills that helped me in both college and veterinary school.

2. I'm ignoring this, because it can't really be verified.

3. I think it's a big leap to go from "disappointed in his performance" to "dislike," but I can see how they'd look the same to a kid. I had one HS English teacher who used to write "TRITE" in big red letters at the top of almost every creative writing assignment I turned in. In hindsight, though, it was trite... I was a teenage girl writing about teenage girl drama. When I emailed her over the summer after my junior year, to basically say "I got an 800 on the SAT-II writing, bizatch, so how do you like me now?!?!" (well, in slightly kinder words), her response was that of COURSE I was a good writer, and that's why she pushed me so hard. Did I like her? No. Did I ever feel like she really liked me? No. But I didn't ask anyone to intervene - I tried harder to meet her standards/expectations and improved in the process.

4. I think this is probably true. Maybe you need to discuss this with your son and see if you can help him to stop taking it personally and being so sensitive about it?

5. Not sure what to make of this. Maybe it's true (in which case, I can think of a million different reasons why it might be the case), maybe it is... but it doesn't really matter. If she isn't going to call on you, don't raise your hand. Easy enough.

If he really feels like his grades aren't an accurate reflection of the effort of he's putting in, then he should probably meet with her to find out how to better target his efforts towards her expectations. Not asking her why she doesn't like him, but more of a "I feel like I work hard in this class and my grades don't reflect that - what do you suggest I shift my focus towards?" I think all this not liking him business is clouding the real issue.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2017, 03:30:29 PM by startingsmall »

Cranky

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2017, 06:41:48 PM »
I found it very useful in high school to learn how to get along with teachers who didnít like me (and generally, I didnít like them.) it made me work very hard.

I donít know how your sonís school does things, but my dd went to an IB school, and all the actual IB exams are ALL scored externally, and those were the only grades that actually mattered for her diploma.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2017, 05:40:37 AM by Cranky »

lhamo

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2017, 06:51:53 PM »
I went to an IB school in the UK.  Historically one of the top-scoring ones (the school was one of a few that had pioneered the IB).  Our English teachers were BRUTAL!  And very British.   Did not seem to care much for my Yankee sensibilities.   I was convinced they hated me.   But of course, they didn't.   They just knew very well how hard the exam was and were determined to keep our scores at the top.   I ended up with a 7.    In spite of Middlemarch.   Damn, I hated that book at the time.   Read it a few years later and loved it.   

Abe

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2017, 10:33:34 PM »
I initially got worse grades in english during high school than in my other classes. Ultimately, I learned that as long as my papers made the teachers happy, my grade would improve. I ended up placing out of English in college because of my score on the AP exam, which was unrelated to the quality of teaching in my classes, and awesome because that gave me time to focus on subjects pertinent to my career. If the colleges your child is interested in allow exemption out of the subject, I would highly recommend focusing on the IB exam rather than getting in a pissing match with the teacher. In my experience, #1 and #2 are good recommendations because high school English classes are often long, boring subjective navel-gazing sessions. If he can align his papers with the teacher's biases, it'll get him a better grade. If he can know what those biases are ahead of time, it'll be easier. It will also be good for them to learn how to manage people in power with chips on their shoulders, as there are many more ahead in college and beyond.
« Last Edit: December 24, 2017, 10:37:20 PM by Abe »

Wise Virgin

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2017, 06:29:19 AM »
This is great advice.

I'm a huge believer in the idea that we can only control ourselves and our own behavior. So, even if this were 100% the teacher's fault -- and I think that highly unlikely, most negative interactions are jointly owned, even if one person is the worse aggressor -- it will be helpful for your son to adopt the mindset that he is partially responsible for why things aren't going well. If he can accept that, the next step will be for him, with your coaching, to think through ways he can change his behavior to improve the situation. Have him think of a specific negative interaction he had with her. Talk through it to see if he can identify whether there was a tipping point that made things so sour. Develop a list of things he could have done differently. Have him try something from the list next time things go sour. Evaluate what worked and what didn't.

This is a great teaching moment for a young adult. As others have mentioned, he is going to encounter situations like this throughout his life and you won't always be there to solve his problems for him. Having several tools to address or cope with personality conflicts will be vital to his well-being as an adult.
Regarding the bolded part of your quote, this is not always true.

Periodically in my life I will encounter, rarely, a person who hates me as soon as their eyes meet mine. I learned as a child to avoid meeting anybody's eyes. I was a compliant, non-troublemaking, studious child and I had a teacher whose face would scrunch up in fury if my eyes ever met hers accidentally - then she would look confused, as if even she didn't know what was going on. She would continually pass me over or humiliate me as though she had to "keep me down."

Over time I lived enough decades that I was able to see the pattern: nearly always, it was a woman, a nervous high-strung type, who was complacent and satisfied with her place in life. Men were generally not a problem. I am a woman - perhaps that is relevant to the situation, perhaps not.

This is very confusing for a young person. I used to second-guess my every action a hundred times, trying to discern what I was doing that was so offensive. Then I stopped doing that. When it happens now, I do something to make them understand they are not to pull that crap on me. I give them a straight stare, or repeat in a deadpan voice what passive-aggressive thing they just said to me, or similar. Then I avoid them, because it seems these women cannot help themselves and neither can they explain their actions.

I will probably never understand why this happens. Making them back off is as good as it gets.

MrsPete

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2017, 05:14:42 PM »
If I had a penny in HS for how many people thought a teacher didn't like them when it was clear the teacher actually didn't give a shit, I'd be FIRED.
As a high school teacher, I have to agree:  For the kid, high school is his world; for the teacher, it's a job, and kids move through the classroom each semester -- with more than a hundred kids in any given semester, teachers don't tend to have strong opinions about most of their students.  I suspect it's different in elementary school, where the kids and the teachers are together all day.  Kids tend to "take things personally", and they tend to get the idea that the teacher must not like them because they received a bad grade -- this is part of the trophy-for-every-kid concept; though it makes no sense, kids get the idea that they couldn't possibly have done poorly -- so it must be that the teacher doesn't like them! 

A couple true stories: 
- A mom came in to complain to me that I didn't like her daughter because her daughter was pregnant -- I was 100% unaware that the kid was pregnant, but the mom persisted in her opinion. 
- A mom complained to me that I was giving her kid bad grades on his vocabulary tests because I didn't like him.  Our vocabulary is all computer-based /provided by the county, so I pulled up his work and showed her that he was spending 1-5 minutes on each vocabulary exercise, and THAT was why he was getting bad grades on his tests -- he wasn't doing his homework. 

Other kids "see it too"?  Yeah, well, what will the average kid say if your kid asks, "Can you believe Mrs. Jones said that to me in class today?  She hates me!" 

Honestly, I don't have strong "like or dislike" opinions on the great majority of my students.  On the rare occasion I have a student whom I really don't like, I go out of my way to be fair to him or her.  I think this is typical. 

1.  He thinks his grades in her class are lower than they should be considering the differences between (a) his opinions of his own papers compared to his opinions of other kids' papers and the relative grades - i.e., he writes a "better" paper and gets a "worse" grade than his classmates, and (b) his ability/effort vs. his grade in that class compared with his ability/effort vs. his grades in his other five classes ...

3.  In my parent teacher conferences with her, she has essentially expressed disappointment with his performance.  He is a smart and talented kid who coasts on those attributes much more than he works hard at things to get even better.  This bothers her, and I can see how bother and disappointment can lead to dislike.
Note the first two words:  "He thinks"; learning to write is tough enough -- comparing your own teenaged writing against other people's teenaged writing is not easy.  English papers aren't often written on opinions (or biases) ... and they're never graded on opinions.  Rather, English papers tend to be literary analysis (Describe Mr. Darcy's character -- the student may like him or dislike him, but the grade comes from pulling appropriate facts about him from the book /expressing them well).  If it IS an opinion paper (drinking age, legalization of pot -- students love to write about those topics), the teacher will not grade on whether the student's opinion matches his or her own; rather, the teacher will grade on whether the student presented facts to back up his or her opinion. 

Students tend to think writing is subjective; while it isn't as cut-and-dry as math or science, it also isn't subjective -- did the student answer the question asked, did he defend his thesis statement, and did he use standard grammar/spelling/mechanics?  Those things are quantifiable. 

You say he's a smart kid who doesn't work hard -- that is probably what's getting him lower grades.  You said something about locus-of-control -- do you mean he likes to blame other people for his shortcomings?  Typical for a teen, typical for our society, but -- if I understand -- he needs to move past that. 

If he really feels like his grades aren't an accurate reflection of the effort of he's putting in, then he should probably meet with her to find out how to better target his efforts towards her expectations. Not asking her why she doesn't like him, but more of a "I feel like I work hard in this class and my grades don't reflect that - what do you suggest I shift my focus towards?" I think all this not liking him business is clouding the real issue.
Yes, this.  He needs to ask her what he can do to improve his grades.  I suspect she will be able to give him several specific recommendations.  At a glance, the things MOST of my high school students need to do better:  Time management, reading for deeper meaning /not just basic plot, taking better notes in class, proofreading and editing instead of turning in first drafts. 
« Last Edit: December 25, 2017, 05:19:18 PM by MrsPete »

englishteacheralex

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2017, 06:10:24 PM »
Everything Mrs. Pete just said so diplomatically.

And a little un-diplomatically, I would like to add: please don't involve yourself in this conflict any more, except to smile mysteriously at your HS junior and say I trust you that you can handle this on your own. Then let him deal with the consequences of whatever he chooses to do. Obviously the correct thing would be for him to get up his nerve and figure out on his own how to go to the teacher and actually talk to her about the conflict. Hello real life, in which your parent is not available to help with this sort of thing. Much more likely is that he will continue to complain about her to anyone who will listen, while avoiding any personal responsibility in the matter. Do not continue to entertain this nonsense from him. Let him sink or swim. He is a junior in high school.

I teach AP Literature to high school seniors, and when parents intervene in situations like this (it happens more infrequently now, as I've become more experienced and more intimidating), the student in question just misses out on a lot of valuable character development that could have been had for much lower stakes than it will be in college.

I have become so frustrated with parents making unreasonable demands and actually believing their 18-year-old children that I'm grading unfairly because I don't like them (DON'T LIKE THEM? SERIOUSLY? What does LIKING have to do with it? I'm trying to teach them, which is my job. I'm 38 years old with a happy personal life and a normal degree of mental health...what in the world do I care about liking a 16-year-old who I see once/day for 45 minutes along with 25 other kids that period? I strive to create an appropriate professional relationship with my students that is congenial and productive. It isn't "mean girls"--the "she doesn't like me" thing drives me nuts. If I "liked" my students in any way other than as a professional relationship, that would be weird.But I digress.) that I am incredibly tempted to say

"Please, just have an A. Have an A+, if that will make you feel better. I don't care. The grade costs me nothing. If you think your student will become a better writer through the both of you ganging up and brow-beating me into raising his grade, by all means, go ahead. He won't end up in my basement after he flunks out of college because he's learned that a teacher who gives him a bad grade is doing so because he or she doesn't "like" him. Shall I skip reading his god-awful essays for the rest of the year and attempting to craft helpful feedback? Shall I just rubber stamp A's on his papers? I'd love to. It will free up so much time and energy for me."

Do I ever say anything like this? Of course not. But this is what most high school teachers I know feel about this sort of conflict. We don't "dislike" students; we want to do the job we are paid for. Sometimes this involves giving unpopular feedback. Our hope is that it will be appreciated that we spent real time carefully reading the student's work and explaining how it could be improved. Doesn't always happen that way.

lbmustache

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2017, 12:24:53 PM »

And a little un-diplomatically, I would like to add: please don't involve yourself in this conflict any more[/i]


Not directed at the OP at all - but I wonder if this (parents involving themselves in this manner) is a generational shift, or if we are just more aware of it happening because we can now talk to hundreds of other people via social media about it.

High school was ~10 years ago for me, and I was a "bad" student. My parents (correctly) blamed me rather than assuming I was a special snowflake and the teacher was at fault... occasionally if they would mention visiting or talking to a teacher, I would shut that down real quick! SO EMBARRASSING! I learned to deal with it myself and didn't have to deal with mom and dad being embarrassing at school. Maybe kids these days don't care, ha.

FIFoFum

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2017, 12:59:46 PM »
+1 to everything Mrs.Pete and englishteacheralex said.

I would also add that unconscious biases against women (esp young women) are powerful. I encourage you to look into this as another teaching moment for your son.

Your hs junior is critical and upset with this specific teacher for not giving him the grade he feels he deserves. Your instinct is to believe your son over this teacher's professionalism without any evidence besides the opinion of your son (and his teenage friends).

I agree that your son can respectfully ask his teacher more about her grading rubric and how to improve. I also think you might want to explore whatever lesson you're teaching your son about entitlements here. It's worth exploring why you'd both rather believe that the teacher is unprofessional than that your son may have room to improve in his writing skills.

martyconlonontherun

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2017, 01:23:06 PM »
As others have said, let him figure it out with the teacher.

The problem is never the problem. My job is 90% talking people through the issues they personally have (How the issue makes them look, who is at fault, whose responsible for it going forward, etc) and 10% actually discussing the issue at hand. My job description doesn't say of this.

This is where your son needs to find out what the teacher actually wants and work from that angle. He will face the same thing in 18 months in college. Are you gonna call the TA at the university on why the son got a A/B instead of A?

Just have him read something like "How to win friends and influence people" for people skills. I guarantee if he goes to the teacher, asks for help, and shows up after class your son will be perceived better. The teacher will then be invested in your son's success and more likely to give a better grade. Will he become a better writer? Maybe/Maybe not. Will he learn a life lesson on how to deal with people? Absolutely.

mustachianteacher

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2017, 03:57:32 PM »
Another English teacher chiming in here, but I'll begin by saying I agree 100% with Mrs. Pete and englishteacheralex.

I can't add any new points to the discussion, but I will reiterate the most important ones:

Whether or not I like a student is rarely an issue. I rarely have much of an opinion about most of my students.

You mention nonchalantly that you know your son is bright but isn't a hard worker. Are you ok with that? I have a kid too, so I do understand how difficult it is to MAKE them want to work hard, but my daughter knows that I refuse to discuss her dissatisfaction with her teacher or her grades unless she has honestly done the very best she can. I say the same to my students: Don't start niggling about this or that being unfair if you haven't given your very best effort at doing what you can with what you have.

Does he spell-check his essays and take care of all those "little things"? Many students think spelling shouldn't matter and that I should grade their writing on their ideas. Um, no. They both matter.

You don't get an A for task completion. You (usually) get a C for completion, and then we go from there.

I think it would serve your son well to make an appointment with his teacher, come prepared with questions, and let him figure this out on his own with his teacher. I expect this level of independence even from my 8th graders.

Dee18

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2017, 07:01:42 PM »
Re this:

"5.  I think earlier in the year he was complaining that she called on him less than other kids, even to the point of ignoring his raised hand while nobody else had raised theirs.  I'm not sure I believe this, but it's possible I suppose."

This is a good example of where the student seems might be misinterpreting the teacher's choice to not call on him as her disliking him. The point of a teacher asked a question in class is to make students think.  If only one student is raising a hand (and especially if that student is often the first with the hand up), calling on that student before others have enough time to think about the question may prematurely end contemplation by others.  I often will not call on the first student to raise a hand because (1) I am hoping others will also think of an answer, (2) I especially want to involve students I know are timid about participating in class, (3) the question is related to something I previously taught and I want to see if students who had trouble the other day now get the concept....or (4) all boys are raising hands and I realize my class is seriously off balance by gender for participation....or any of a number of other ideas in my head.  But, as a previous poster said, liking/ not liking very rarely even occurs to me about my students. 

AnnaGrowsAMustache

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2017, 07:09:21 PM »
You know what? You're going to have personality conflicts with people in life. Even people that have some power over your life. They don't all need to be 'resolved'. Not everyone is going to like each other, and they don't need to. Unless the kid's learning is actually, legitimately impacted, I would suggest that he just get on with it.

aceyou

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2017, 01:09:59 PM »
Good replies and insights from everyone.  Thank you very very much.

What is the basis for his claim that she doesn't like him?

He's mentioned things in the past that I don't recall exactly now, but:

1.  He thinks his grades in her class are lower than they should be considering the differences between (a) his opinions of his own papers compared to his opinions of other kids' papers and the relative grades - i.e., he writes a "better" paper and gets a "worse" grade than his classmates, and (b) his ability/effort vs. his grade in that class compared with his ability/effort vs. his grades in his other five classes.

2.  Other kids agree that she doesn't like him.

3.  In my parent teacher conferences with her, she has essentially expressed disappointment with his performance.  He is a smart and talented kid who coasts on those attributes much more than he works hard at things to get even better.  This bothers her, and I can see how bother and disappointment can lead to dislike.

4.  Related to #3, she sees his talent and I think it is quite possible that she is trying the strategy of being fair-but-tougher on him to get him to respond and improve.  With some kids it works but with my kid I think it is backfiring a bit.

5.  I think earlier in the year he was complaining that she called on him less than other kids, even to the point of ignoring his raised hand while nobody else had raised theirs.  I'm not sure I believe this, but it's possible I suppose.


Hi.  I'm a high school teacher at a school that has IB offerings, including the full diploma program:) 

A few thoughts:

My advice would be that your son:
a) Keep doing his best and know that what you get out of the IB program is 10x's more important than the grade.
b) use human nature to his advantage.  People are more likely to like someone if they feel like that individual likes them too.  Encourage your son to, in conversations with the teacher, mention things that he genuinely likes about the class and about the way she teachers.  She sounds like a capable teacher, and there are likely several honest and positive things he could throw her way.  If she truly does "not like him", which I HIGHLY doubt, then this would be a way to change her personal feelings about him. 

Here's how I would use that in reverse as a teacher:
There is a lot of poverty in our school, and when I teach classes that have several students with predispositions AGAINST learning/teachers/schools in general, I've learned to use that technique.  Any time I find some part of their personality or character that I find positive/fun/whatever, I make sure to be genuine, maybe laugh with them, and to explicitly say "I like you", and to do that in front of other students.  It's very possible that they don't have a lot of adults, or anyone tell them positive things like that.  My thought is that if a rough group of kids hear me say I like them in front of all their friends, then when those kids leave my class, they are far more likely to say to each other "hey, Mr. Aceyou is a good guy", rather than to bitch about me.  And that makes it easier for me to work with them, which increases the amount they can learn in my class. 

Of course I would use this idea with all my students, I'm just saying it is even MORE important for someone you already have a tenuous relationship with. 

IB is really tough, for both the student as well as the teacher.  I am not one of the IB teacher (I teach advanced algebra and geometry), but I know the IB teachers must grade using a pretty rigid system.  My first thought is that it's unlikely that the teacher is too far off on the grades.  Although as a math teacher, I'm used to really objective grading, so I could be somewhat biased on that. 

With regards to #2, I wouldn't put much stock in what the other kids say.  Kids, no people in general, will validate another persons feelings.  I mean, if you are out with your coworkers, and one of them complains about how their boss is being unfair to them, the most common thing is for you and all your friends to listen to them and say "yeah, that's unfair".  When in your mind, you might be really thinking....yeah she's not really being unfair to you.  How many kids would  respond, "no, I actually I think your grade accurately reflects your ability"...that's just not what humans typically do in social settings.

Good luck to your son, these are GREAT learning experiences!  I hope my children have particular teachers and coaches that they don't get along perfectly with so they can practice strategies that will help them in adulthood!
 

clarkfan1979

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Re: Personality conflict with high school teacher. Advice welcome.
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2017, 01:18:20 PM »
I teach college. Personality conflicts should have zero correlation with their grade. My exams are mostly scan-tron. I assign one paper, but it's weighted very low and I pretty much give everyone full credit.

I make my grades very objective to avoid any accusations about personality conflict.

Learning how to get along with people that you don't like is a great life skill. I wouldn't take that learning opportunity away from my kid.