When bullying comes from a teacher... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 03-20-2012, 11:55 AM - Thread Starter
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eta: Maybe I should have posted this in childhood years?


Dd is in 2nd grade at a very small, tight-knit public school. Small as in, one tiny building that only houses K-3, and the majority of the teachers there (including this paraprofessional, Mrs. W) have been there forever.... in a small, tight-knit neighborhood, in a smallish town. On one hand it's like a big family, but on the other hand it can be pretty clique-y. 
My much, much younger sister went to this school almost a decade ago, and says that "Mrs. W", the paraprofessional, was mean when she was there, but not quite this mean...... 
So here's what happened this time: dd was in the library where Mrs. W was in charge, and had forgotten to bring back her books, so wasn't able to check out new ones. This is not a big deal at all, kids keep books out longer than usual all the time. But dd usually finishes hers the same day she checks them out and puts them back in her backpack so they're ready to go back right away, so her not having books to return was weird I guess. So she gets reprimanded for that by Mrs. W. I don't know exactly what was said, but it's not something dd needed reprimanded for AT ALL. Then, since dd wasn't going to check out books she was doing her math facts, and used a manipulative to help out with the ones she was having trouble with. Mrs. W tells dd she can't use the manipulative. Dd tells her that Mrs. B (her 2nd grade teacher) said she could use it to help her with this particular work she was doing. Mrs. W calls dd a liar and again tells her she can't do it that way. Dd told me that yes, "liar" was the word used.
The last time something major happened was last year in the lunchroom. Dd was coming home with tummy aches and I found out she was being told she had to eat more than she actually needed to. It is standard in this lunchroom, apparently, to make the kids ask to be finished, and then the teacher on lunch duty checks to make sure the child has eaten "at least half of what they took". This is regardless of cold/hot lunch. I think it's ridiculous because 1)children's appetites fluxuate and I always send more than enough in cold lunches, in case it's a big-appetite day, and 2)the kids don't have a choice as far as portion-sizes go for the main dish with hot lunch. I have worked in the public school kitchens and I know that they are REQUIRED by some federal standard thing that EVERY lunch tray for EVERY child... from kindergarten all the way up to those 6' highschool football players... have the exact same measured amount of food. So that meant that the days dd was eating hot lunch (which was a lot, since she qualified for free meals) they were making her eat beyond when she felt full. Completely crossed the line of what a school should be doing in that department, IMO. She told me that most of teachers would "let her be finished" but Mrs. W would stand there and watch her to make sure she was eating. I was stunned and horrified and appalled and all of those things. I went in to the office and made it very clear that my daughter is allowed to self-regulate when it came to eating and that nobody was to tell her how much she should be eating. 
So now I am just tired of this woman. It's always something with her, and usually something little and not worth making a fuss about.... but it's consistant. If I drop dd off 10 minutes late in the morning she makes sarcastic remarks to dd about how she shouldn't be late. As if it's the 7 year old's fault... not the mom's at all.  With that one, I told dd to say something like "yeah I know, my mom is always running so late!" or just ignore her. 
So far I've talked to dd about how we know that Mrs. W is just a grouchy, mean lady who is probably very sad or has had a hard life or never learned how to be nice to people and yada yada... basically whatever I can say to get it through to dd that it's Mrs. W and not her! 
Dd is an excellent student, a quiet, careful, rule-follower, and very sensitive. I know she can't be the only one being treated this way, but she is taking it a lot harder than a lot of the other kids probably do. It's clearly stressing her out. Apart from school, our home life is not perfectly stable... we moved to a new neighborhood recently (the 4th move in 3 years) and that, plus not seeing her dad very often, plus my being a stressed-out imperfect mom have taken a huge toll on dd over the past few years. So the last thing I need is for a teacher-figure at school to add to dd's stress.
Also, I live in an area that still has a mentality of "kids need to toughen up, getting picked on is a lesson/part of childhood".... and the fact that this lady has successfully kept her job while being so mean for so long leads me to believe that nobody has said anything about it, or very little.   
So now that I've written it all out I don't know if my initial reaction (to go to the principal) is the best idea. Should I talk directly to Mrs. W? Am I over-reacting? I do feel like I need to say something at least to Mrs. W, but I have no idea how to word it, what I should actually say.... I'm terrible at confrontations of this sort.

Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.


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#2 of 5 Old 03-20-2012, 02:00 PM
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Typically, you are expected to talk to the teacher or your child's teacher, then go to the principal if the problem is not resolved.  If it were me tho, I would talk to some other parents of kids in the class and see what their experience is.  It will be easier to have a plan if you know whether this is a specific conflict with your child, or if this is typical behavior that everyone gets exposed to.  If you do talk to the teacher, keep it as judgement free as possible, it is always possible that there is some background stuff going on that you and dd are not aware of.  If you focus on specific behavior and the changes you'd like to see, you will probably have a more constructive conversation. Unfortunately, most parents don't do much about nasty teachers, and neither do school boards.  Here's an article you might be interested in :  http://library.usask.ca/theses/available/etd-04172008-130652/unrestricted/Reschnythesisfinal.pdf

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#3 of 5 Old 03-20-2012, 07:29 PM
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I would send an email to the principal documenting the little incidents you remember and the name calling and saying you aren't sure what to do but you are worried that this teacher may be targeting your dd because there are so many little instances that look like a pattern as a whole. You can soften it by saying maybe their personalities clash and she doesn't realize what she is doing but I would also add that you have spoken to young adults who had her and she does seem to have a reputation for being unkind to students.
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#4 of 5 Old 03-21-2012, 08:47 AM - Thread Starter
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This morning when I dropped dd off I had a chance to talk to her teacher about it. Mrs. B is a wonderful, wonderful teacher, she brings out the absolute best in dd and I am so grateful for her. joy.gif She was very understanding and said that she would talk to Mrs. W about how sensitive dd is to her crassness. She also offered to help dd talk to Mrs. W and have a little meeting with the 3 of them (dd, Mrs. B and Mrs. W). We asked dd if she was up for it and she looked very relieved to know that we were working on this for her, and she was totally up to confronting Mrs. W about it with Mrs. B as back-up. I feel so much better! Hopefully it goes smoothly, and that Mrs. W can be a little more sensitive at least through the rest of this year!


Jen Muise, I haven't had time to get through that whole paper, but I bookmarked it because I'd like to. It looks interesting! Thanks for sharing!


I do still feel somewhat obligated to document the things I remember and let the principal know that at least one parent out there thinks her treatment of student(s) is unacceptable. I know this lady has a reputation for being like this, and it's not taken very seriously but dd can't be the only one in her history of teaching that has had this problem. (Oh! and yesterday I talked to a friend who has a kid in another clas at this school and she said that Mrs. W has been rude enough to her, an adult, that it made her leave and almost cry in front of her kids!!!!) 

Single student mama to dd 5/04 and ds 11/07.


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#5 of 5 Old 03-21-2012, 10:44 AM
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Document, document, document and send it to the principal. The principal needs a lot of documentation to be able to put disciplinary measures into place. You can't guarantee that they will do anything, but it can't hurt to document and send it to the principal.

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