Most parents would not dream of criticizing their child's teacher. Most teachers work their tails off trying to engage children who are on different levels, who have special education needs and personal issues, and more. Most teachers have the patience, wisdom and gentle spirit of a saint, and many parents often marvel that teachers are still sane after even a day in a classroom, much less a whole year with 20 or 30 kids. However, every once in awhile, a parent will come across a teacher who is not engaged with her job and who takes a lackadaisical approach with the kids. This is a teacher who does just enough to avoid getting fired but who doesn't take steps other teachers take to challenge kids, to nurture them and more.
Here are a few signs that your child may have an unmotivated teacher:
Avoids Planning Special Events: Special events, such as holiday parties for elementary kids, are certainly not a requirement for your child's education success. However, many teachers choose to make holidays like Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day and other holidays special for the kids by hosting a party. Often, a room parent or other parent volunteers will coordinate this event. When your teacher doesn't plan this event or ask for assistance in planning it when other teachers in the same grade make the effort to do so, you may have a teacher who is less than excited about her job.
Rarely or Never Gives Homework: One of my kids' teachers informed all of the parents at the beginning of the school year that she never gives out homework. Her reason was that she had three kids at home herself and didn't want to grade papers in the evening. As a parent, at first glance, that sounded like a great deal. However, with all of the other kids in the grade being challenged with homework throughout the year, it was evident that this laziness on the part of the teacher was to the detriment of the students.
Keeps All Kids on the Same Level: If you have been through the Kindergarten or even first grade in a public school, you have heard teachers say that they have to teach to the lowest common denominator. For many kids, this means that a teacher is not properly challenging them and instead is reviewing things they only now. A teacher cannot provide each child with an individual, private lesson, but many teachers will provide kids who move at a faster pace with enrichment opportunities. Some may structure reading groups for groups of kids who advance more quickly, extra math practice for those who finish daily work more quickly and more.
Takes a Long Time Returning Your Calls and Emails: There is no denying the fact that teachers are very busy people. However, some teachers find the time in their workday to regularly return parents' calls and emails while others often take several days to do so. Some matters may not be urgent, but other matters, such as if your child is being bullied at school, may require an immediate response.
The fact is that if you do happen to get an unmotivated teacher during the school year, there is often very little you can do about it except ride it out. It is possible to complain to the teacher or to the school administration. However, provided the teacher has not actually done anything wrong and is doing the minimum amount expected of her, you may not reasonably expect much in the way of results from your complaints. You can be proactive in the classroom by volunteering regularly, asking to help with school parties, and more. You can also challenge your child at home if he or she isn't being challenged enough at school.
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