I was seated across from her finally. I had carried out the conversation I was about to have with her several times in my head. I felt a little apprehensive as I am sure we all do when on tricky ground. I had held on for weeks hoping that somehow she would amend her behaviour. But it was not to be. As she smiled at me from across the table and the husband looked at my face, I began as gently as I could.

It is always difficult handing out criticism to your child’s class teacher. A lot of us worry that our child may then get singled out because of what the parent said. I wasn’t worried about that. I know how to escalate things if people indulge in any wrongdoing. My angst was how to do this in the best possible manner. So, I began telling her how her comments about the children’s mothers were in bad taste and uncalled for. Her smile got smaller. I tried my best to explain to her how she was in a position where she moulded young minds. That her calling the children’s mothers lazy for what she perceived as not doing enough in the morning while packing tiffins smacked of misogyny and regressive thinking. She was quite casual about her approach saying that she did not mean to demean anyone. In fact, she clubbed herself with the pack when she called other mothers lazy. I tried hard not to roll my eyes.

I explained to her that there could be a number of reasons why a child may bring ‘junk’ food to school on a random day. It could also be a father packing a tiffin which she never considered a possibility or a mother not having anything else to pack/being sick or some other reason. Besides, she did not really need to go around checking tiffins. I think educating children the importance of healthy eating is important and I am happy that schools are doing their bit. But going overboard and poking fingers in tiffin boxes is ridiculous.

This school does not allow any non-veg food even eggs to be carried to school. Eggs are good for health, and most vegetarians consume them. But well, school policy. She could not say anymore. Was it be really necessary to single out kids who may have brought eggs on a stray day, make them stand at their desks and feel like criminals while consuming them. Where is the empathy in dealing with such situations? Do teachers become so hardened that the parent and human within them are silenced?

So, we had a long chat. She loves to talk and rambled on. She did promise not to indulge in any namecalling for any child’s parent. She also promised to look into her approach towards gender issues. I felt that her mindset was set and hence wondered if she was just paying me lip service.

Either way, the younger son was happy that the parents took up an issue that was bothering him and his classmates. And I was happy that I finally addressed the behaviour that was troubling me especially since she is an influence in my child’s life.

Only time will tell if she will modify her approach. Else, I can always help her out with understanding the issue better if the need arises again. 🙂

How do you handle any issues with your child’s teacher?

Pic courtesy: AJP at Shutterstock

35 Thoughts on “A Talk with a Teacher

  1. Wow that must have been a difficult chat to have. I so know what you mean about kids being singled out by teachers for the sake of revenge. It’s happened with Gy too.

    V is generally the calming influence in those situations. I am glad you took it up with empathy and let’s hope she took it in the right spirit. One can at least hope so. Am sure G must have been very glad that you took it up with his teacher.

    • Oh yes, it was. I stressed over it for a while carefully planning what I would say and how I would respond. The topic was such that she was bound to feel defensive. I am the calm one among the two hence I had told G to mostly keep silent or take my cue. Oh yes, the son was very pleased. He tells me that she is no longer paranoid about tiffin boxes and their contents. Early days now but feel happy that she seemed to have paid some heed there.

  2. It is so difficult these days to find a GOOD TEACHER. I am glad you had the talk and things got a bit sorted .. and I hope she remembers her promise 🙂

  3. It is definitely a delicate situation and teachers tend to get defensive or justifying…well, I have seen some parents give non veg food that’s not easy to consume from a tiffin box….the school may have this policy to avoid that…. But singling out students for any reason is not correct… If your talk made some sense to her, it would help her as well as her future students

    • Yes, it is. And that is why I was apprehensive. Trust me, no one was asking her to allow non-veg food. I know it is school policy. But egg is stretching it a bit far. Besides, what business is it of a teacher to poke within sandwiches or rolls to see what they contain? It is ridiculous. I think rules should make sense and also must not inculcate discriminatory biases in the minds of young children.

  4. Rachna, I must say that your sons are lucky in having you as their mother. At first I thought that comment was directed at you, but it became clear that it was said for some other mothers, after reading the other post of yours. I’m glad that you stood for the right cause and discussed it with the teacher. I hope that the teacher has realized her mistake and won’t repeat it in future.

    • Thank you, Ravish. I think if the teacher basically does mom bashing on a regular basis, it won’t be long before I was included in that list as well. Basically, her attitude is an issue and we need to let her know that. I hope she is a bit more careful before heaping her biases on young children. We know how difficult mindsets are to change but if we as parents continue to give constructive feedback, I am sure we can see change.

  5. That’s such a difficult chat to have but you did well. And how can schools dictate what a child brings for lunch or that they can’t bring non-veg. Ridiculous, I think.
    While educating a child about healthy food habits is welcome but nobody has the right to poke in the lunch box and pass comments on the parents. This is heights of overstepping boundaries

    • It is. But you will be surprised to know that most schools have this diktat. I know of 3 such prestigious schools who impose a ban on non-veg food including eggs. So ridiculous. Imagine what we are teaching to kids at this young age. And then the teacher’s strange attitude aggravated things. Exactly, that overstepping boundaries bit made me approach her. Also to drill some sense into her mind especially with reference to mothers. Somehow your comment had landed in spam and I just retrieved it.

  6. That must have been hard. Feedback is never easy and more for people who don’t want to accept it. I am so glad that you made an effort, Rachna. I wonder how many parents would pay a heed to what hurts their children and take it back to the school. Bravo!

    • Thanks, Parul. The younger son was clearly affected because all the mom bashing she did on a daily basis. And we thought it best to approach her and share our thoughts with her. I was skeptical but I felt that if the matter escalated, I would be able to defend my stand.

  7. Not allowing eggs ! Wow that’s strange. Nowadays this junk food shaming business has gone to the other extreme.

    • Yeah, so very strange. But they are adamant. Exactly. People are going overboard with this. It is not as if we as parents are not doing our bit to send healthy food. But this kind of witch hunt is ridiculous.

  8. Wow, loved how you approached the situation calmly and clinically. Happy to note that the teacher seemed to agree (at least on the face of it). It’s ridiculous to micro-manage the kids so. And, to single them out just because of what they got in their lunch boxes is really going overboard.

    I’d have been stressed out to address something like this. Yet, maybe I’d have mustered the courage.

    • Yes, it was stressful and I took a long time to plan what I’d say. But I thought, instead of stewing, it is best that the teacher is approached. The younger son tells me that she no longer rigorously checks tiffin boxes, which is a good thing. At least she has made the effort to modify her behavior. We all make mistakes. But if we are open to feedback and change then it makes things better. Thanks for reading, Uma.

  9. I liked how you handled such a situation. Good that you didn’t ignored the issue and took up the matter with the teacher. I have seen many times parents ignore such issues.
    Teachers play a very important role in a child’s life and so they need to be really sensitive as well as careful with their behavior.

  10. When Vidur was in primary school, they were allowed to carry only “cooked” food with some exceptions. No bread, no poori-bhaji, and a long list of other things. Of course, the entire parent team ganged up on the teacher right in front of the class and sorrrrrted it out. That’s one thing I always like about KVs – there’s no fear about tackling issues either with the teachers or the principal. If a parent hesitated, the others did not hesitate to support them.

    Such nonsense to call a mother lazy! I remember Vidur loved to carry sandwiches. First of all, these children carried two snack boxes since they started school at 7 am – and got back home at 2.30, after which they had lunch, etc. Why should a parent be shamed for what they send in the box? As long as they ensured the child got their nutrition, isn’t that enough?

    Sigh. I am very glad you went and met the teacher. Hopefully she will abstain from BS comments in future. It is always delicate to approach these things because the children are afraid they will bear the brunt of it!

    • Thanks, Vidya. Seriously BS. Strangely, I have observed that parents are such chicken when it comes to raising their voices. They want someone else to handle it. I also give sandwiches like cheese tomato because the kids love them and it is easy for me to make early in the morning. I have to pack 4 dabbas for 2 kids at 7 and dabba for the husband too as he leaves even earlier than them. I don’t need any judging from the teachers. Lazy! What nonsense? If mothers were lazy, most houses would cease to function. As long as we are giving good, balanced, nutritious food to the kids, who are they to sit and inspect? I had good mind to escalate the issue further if the teacher had not listened. But luckily, she seemed receptive.

  11. I totally bow to you Rachna. This is such a courageous step. To talk to your child’s teacher about her behaviour is a tough thing to do. I can understand why many parents would shy away from doing this expecting the backlash that their child would have to face. I’m not sure I would do it too unless it’s really bad. Mercifully the twins’ school has a cool tiffin policy. They make it clear at the beginning of the session that each parent is a judge of what’s junk and what’s not for their child. i think that’s fair. To judge or label a parent based on what’s in a child’s tiffin is such utter rubbish. And to shame the child for that is even worse. Good for you.

    • Thanks, Tulika. Now after reading so many comments, l wonder if it was impulsive on my part. But her behaviour on a daily basis with children was so unchecked that l felt that somewhere she ought to know what impression she was leaving in young minds. Luckily, she was receptive. I had planned out the conversation and also the worst aftermath in my mind before approaching her. Luckily, things went well.

  12. Its really difficult to have such conversations with teachers. You did it so well. I become panic in such situations. Poor kids have to go through such situation without complaining. 🙁

  13. Do these “talks” ever get easier? It sounds to me that you handled it really well, which is exactly what I would expect from you. The thing that stood out to me was that even the children felt uncomfortable…wow, that is telling. I really (like really!!) admire your direct yet kind approach. Have you always found it easy to address things like this with others? Just curious as I really tend to struggle with anxiety about confrontation.

    • I was anxious too. I really wished that the problem would go away on its own. But everyday my son said how she would pass snarky remarks about mothers. It used to upset him. Children are so attached to their mothers. He wanted to tell her something but could not. So l assured him that we will address this issue. I think directly speaking about these issues help. Of course there is a risk involved. I really planned how l would approach my talk. And luckily it went well. If she had reached antagonistically, l would have escalated the matter to the higher authorities. I was very sure that the school would not support this kind of name-calling and shaming of parents as a policy. So in that sense, l thought out the entire scenario including the worst fallout. And the son was absolutely elated that both parents went and had a long chat. I guess somewhere we have to stand up for them.

      Thanks so much for your warm words.

  14. I think the teachers should focus on their teaching rather than other peripheral matters which do not fall in their ambit.
    It is very difficult to register your complaint and yet save your child from not being singled out by the teacher.Hurray for Rachna !

    BTW,I was halfway through your post on WhatsApp,when it became unresponsive.I wonder why.

    • Strange about the post going unresponsive. You were reading it on WhatsApp? Looks like teachers targeting kids is pretty common. I was apprehensive too but the talk did go well.

  15. I can write an entire essay about the teacher these days. Mine had asked me to take S to a specialist for expert opinion last year because he “Asks too many questions”. I am so glad that his teacher this year is wonderful, but I remember how anxious I was before the first PTM this year. Talking to a teacher requires so much courage, I am glad you did and I am sure G loved that you did too.

    • Imagine that. Most teachers hate it when children ask questions. I have to do a post on this as well. Yes, it was a delicate issue and l wondered how she would handle it. Luckily, the discussion did go amicably.

  16. Good Job Rachna! Not all the parents do it!

  17. Kudos to you for handling it so well, Rachna!!

  18. I’m so proud of you for raising the issue with her! So many times, we hesitate because she could well have singled out your child after that but you did the right thing and hopefully, she will keep your opinion in mind! More importantly, you demonstrated to your child how important it is to stand up for what you believe in!! 🙂 🙂 <3

    • Thanks, Rosh. It wasn’t without apprehension but if we don’t show them how to stand up for what we believe in, who will? To give her credit, she did take it well. And apparently her behaviour has changed for the better.

Do not leave without commenting. I love a good conversation :).

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