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Is the Teacher Unfair?

If accurate, this is a serious issue because it will reduce the overall learning in the classroom and hurt students. It is very important to have a clear, consistent behavior management plan in the classroom and implement it fairly.

  1. Definitely parents should investigate to see if this is true or if the student has a biased perspective. If a parent thinks their child is being treated unfairly, then the first step would be to listen to their child’s side of the story and then meet with the teacher and let the teacher explain what is happening from their perspective. If the result of this meeting is that the parents still feel that their child was treated unfairly and the teacher is not in agreement, then it is time to make a meeting with administration. Moving the student to another teacher’s classroom may be the best option. If this is an ongoing problem with other students in the classroom the administration should and probably will meet with the teacher and start working on a plan to make the necessary changes. This should start with administration observing in the classroom and then moving forward on additional teacher training/support. If this action does not resolve the situation, the teacher, if not tenured, will be at risk of dismissal.

  2. Although it may be true that the teacher treats a student or students unfairly, this is, in my experience, rare. Most teachers want to be fair and do have a reason for a correction. Here are a few true stories from my experience.

    1. My students appreciated my fairness so I was surprised when one of the counselors set a parent conference re: a disciplinary action that I took. I had no idea what the student’s complaint was. Here is what happened. I arrived to the parent, teacher, student, counselor meeting and noticed that the parent looked quite angry. I listened to the story that she shared. Her son had told her that I made him sit in the corner and face the wall. I had not done this nor would I ever do this so I turned to the student and said. “Why would you say this to your mother? You know I never did that.” He looked at the floor and said, “I don’t know.” Hmm……..I asked him to tell his mother what really happened. He was silent so I explained. Now this is an a 17 year old male with a growing beard who had already fathered a child so it wasn’t a likely story that any teacher would “sit him in a corner.” What really happened is that he continued to talk to the girls around him while I was giving directions so as per my classroom management step system, I gave him a warning-Step #1. He continued to talk after I started over again so I implemented Step #2 which is to move a student’s seat. I moved him to the front at a table where there was only one other male student who did not want to talk to him. That was it. He was now in a location, right in front, where he was less likely to interrupt. Since he did not like this and his grades had been falling he decided to make up a story. His mother was no longer angry with me at this point. She was now angry with him. She never apologized to me though. I was fair, clear and consistent.

    2. I had a student that told her parents that I had treated her unfairly because I would not help her at tutorial and only helped the White students. I was called into a parent/teacher conference. I arrived at the conference to some very angry parents that told me how racist I was. I very calmly said to my student, “Rachel, you know that I don’t have any White students. I only have Hispanic, Asian and Black students. You are out visiting with your boyfriend during my tutorials. I help every student that comes to tutorial. I can’t help you because you don’t come.” At this point the parents apologized to me and redirected their anger at Rachel. The principal thanked me and said that I could return to the classroom.

Final Thought: While it could be true that a teacher is being unfair and this should be investigated. Sometimes it’s the student’s behavior and motivations that are the problem.

If you would like to read more true teacher stories, read my book, Wait, Don’t Quit!

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