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School Problems: "My teacher hates me!"

A grade-by-grade guide to dealing with "bad" teachers

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When a child dislikes a teacher — or feels disliked by one — school becomes a daily struggle. Just ask Constance Zimmer. Her stepson Harrison, now a happy 4th-grader, got off on the wrong foot with his 1st-grade teacher. “He felt picked on and singled out,” she recalls. “He began to act out in class and refused to participate in projects and assignments.”

Fortunately, teacher-student traumas are often highly fixable. Read on for ways to smooth the bumps and enjoy a better school year. 

Preschool years: Slow and steady

If a preschooler appears to dislike a teacher, parents should wait to hastily

request a switch of classrooms or even schools, warns longtime early childhood educator and Monday Morning Leadership for Kids co-author Evelyn Addis. When a child chafes at the beginning of preschool, she may be having a negative response to the overwhelming experience of school rather than to a specific teacher. “Allow a period of adjustment for your child in any new classroom setting,” says Addis. “It takes time for classes to come together as a group.”

Most preschools welcome parents to observe a child’s classroom in action, particularly when a concern arises. But beware: A short classroom observation doesn’t present a true picture of an entire instructional day, and a parent’s presence can alter a child’s behavior. If complaints about a teacher persist, document your concerns and set up a conference. Brainstorm a plan for addressing the problem areas, along with a plan for daily or weekly communication to monitor the situation, advises Addis.

Click through for advice for grade- and middle-schoolers.

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