A great teacher can change a kid’s life. But what do you do if personalities clash?
Helen Marshall’s son Scott has Asperger’s syndrome and can be, as Marshall puts it, “a little quirky.” His grade one teacher had no patience with him. Marshall says: “If she asked him a question and he didn’t answer, she’d send him to the principal’s office.”
Not meeting students’ special needs
Marshall goes on: “He’s not good at transitioning from one activity to another, so I talked to her about giving him a five-minute warning. But she wouldn’t do it, and he’d get upset.” The principal would simply call Marshall and have her take Scott home.
As the winter break approached, Scott came to his mom crying. “He told me he didn’t want to go back to school, and could he just get a job at McDonald’s instead?” recalls Marshall.
Since the teacher had already told the principal she didn’t want Scott in her class, having him moved was simple. The new teacher was calmer and kinder, but Marshall still felt Scott wasn’t getting what he needed. The family had been considering moving homes, so Marshall did some research into schools and principals to make sure they moved into the right school district. In the fall, Scott started grade two at a new school with “a teacher who treated him with dignity and respect,” says Marshall. “He came home from school one day and said, ‘I think my teacher really likes me.’” The connection with his new teacher, Marshall says, “changed Scott’s life and our whole family. I don’t think he’d be the kid he is now without that teacher.” In fact, she’s delighted with the entire school’s supportive approach.
As a parent, you know your child’s teacher is hugely important, especially in early grades when kids are with one teacher most of the day. But when personalities clash or a teacher is simply ineffective, it’s tough to know what to do. Should you ask for a change, or try to make the best of the situation?