The College Conversation: Personality conflicts are part of life

September 10, 2010|By Lisa McLaughlin

The high school drama has started. No, I'm not referring to a theatre production or the social woes of teenage girls. It's back to school time and that means an exorbitant amount of complaints about teachers echoing in the hallways and in your home:

"She already hates me. She hated my brother. Now, she's taking it out on me."

"She teaches too fast, I'm over my head and have to get out of this class."

"I heard Mrs. Smith offers more extra credit. I want to switch to her class!"

For the past 15 years, I've heard it all.

While it's frustrating to hear these complaints from your child, the worst reaction you can have is a knee-jerk one, marching into the counselor's office and demanding a change in your child's schedule. Rushing to your child's rescue presents a conundrum for the counselor because there is little wiggle room at this point to change a student's schedule.


Yes, if you push hard enough, often the counselor will adhere to your request, and if you climb the chain of command, from the counselor to the assistant principal of guidance to the principal, you might get your way.

However, consider what this lesson teaches your child. When things get hard, you can wiggle your way out. And if the parent is doing the pushing, that doesn't present your child in the best light as someone who knows how to advocate for herself. And, when it comes time for the counselor to write the required Secondary School Report, what memories do you want that counselor to have of your child?

All schools make it difficult to change classes due to a personality conflict or preconceived notion about a teacher. You will need to prove your point, first by encouraging a private face-to-face conversation between your child and the teacher. Students often fear this endeavor, in particular retribution from the teacher. I know I always deeply respected students who sought me out before or after school or during lunch. I felt like they really cared about the course and wanted to figure out how to learn in my class. Avoid e-mail conversations at all costs. Tone can be misconstrued and even though it might be the easiest way to communicate with your child's teacher, picking up the phone is always the best option.

My teacher hates me

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