As humans, we don’t get always along with each other, even at school where we may have teacher troubles.
We may have conflicts with our parents over issue of independence and trust. Or maybe with our friends, over issues of honesty and integrity.
However, conflict with teachers seem to fall into a category all of their own.
If you are having some teach troubles, don’t fret! I’ve been there and totally done that, so I’m here to walk you through how to navigate your teacher troubles!
Conflicts with Teachers
When conflicts between teachers and students arise, it can often be more complex than ones between friends and family.
This is because with our friends and family, we can (generally) talk openly about the problem, and reach a mutual understanding.
With some teachers, this may be a little more difficult, especially if you’re not that close to them.
This is by no means a how-to guide to solve your problems with your teachers. This is simply a series of options that you have open to you to help resolve these issues.
While I’m sure there are a million and one potential pathways to resolution out there, these, in my very fresh experience, are the most effective.
Tip #1: Talk to your teacher
I cannot emphasise this enough.
Talk to your teacher about the issues you are having in the classroom with them/their teaching style and attempt to reach a mutual understanding.
This was the mistake I made.
I jumped straight to the second option without ever considering this. In retrospect, I believe I would have made the whole process smoother if I had just taken time, swallowed some courage and just talked to my teacher.
I had thought that it would have aggravated the situation but I was wrong.
In reality, it would have helped both of us overcome the situation much earlier and with a lot less people involved.
Tip #2: Talk to your Year Advisor/TAL Advisor
Sometimes the best thing to do when you have teacher troubles is to involve as few people in an issue as possible.
In my very little experience, I can say that going alone to my TAL advisor was the best decision I made. The worst decision was not talking to my own teacher about the issue.
I understand that sometimes student-teacher relations can be in such a state that talking to the teacher may not be a sensible thing to do. I had believed that mine was such a case, but in hindsight, it wasn’t.
By talking to your year advisor, you can:
a) Let your emotions and frustrations out
I can only imagine the immense build-up of pressure and tension inside me if I hadn’t had this chat.
I can clearly see myself burning out and spiralling into a sobbing mess on the ground.
b) Get a better understanding of the situation
When I talked to my year advisor and TAL teacher (they always say, two is better than one!), I was able to pinpoint what the exact nature of the issue was.
It wasn’t A, B, C and D. But rather, it was simply B, an issue with the teacher’s teaching style and state of preparation.
c) Get advice on what the next appropriate step should be
Teachers are more experienced than we are. They’ve most likely been in the position that we are stumbling through, and so are able to offer us their experiences and outcomes.
By talking to your advisors, you can get a more holistic understanding of each possible next step, and their associated outcomes.
This may assist you in choosing what your next step is – proceed up the hierarchy, or go to step 1 (presuming you’ve ignore that as per most students).
Tip #3: Have a chat between your teacher, advisor and yourself
I know, scary stuff.
I remember sitting there with my year advisor, my face buried in her shoulder as I heard my teacher’s boots tap on the lino floor.
Each step closer the teacher came, the closer I scooted to my beloved year advisor.
As much as I knew that this situation was inevitable, I really despised it. I felt upset that they were putting me in this situation.
‘Simply aggravating it,’ I had thought. But rather, it was the opposite.
Having that talk allowed me and the teacher to reach an appropriate resolution about her state of preparation and teaching style, and express that the whole class had been feeling that way.
I had known other students who had gone to other teachers to complain, but none had taken the initiative to take control of their learning.
And that’s simply it.
Attempting to address teacher troubles is not being whingy or a ‘dib dob,’ but rather taking control of your own learning.
It takes courage, extreme inner determination and goes to show your strong leadership qualities.
I promised myself at the beginning of Year 12 that I would have no regrets this year.
I don’t want to ever look back on these final years of high school, presumably some of the best years of my life (retrospectively, of course!), and think ‘I wish…’.
And so, when I realised that I was regretting not telling someone earlier (I’m thinking Year 11 early), I wasn’t doing myself or my peers any favours.
And the decision was made. I was going to be a leader and take control of my education.
Tip #4: Don’t fear class time
Now that all the logistics are sorted, one massive hurdle remains. Class time.
I remember the first lesson after I’d talked to my teacher and advisor.
The recess bell rang. I stayed seated, laughing off the odd stares from my friends and convinced them to trek all the way to my locker… all to get a pencil. I didn’t even need a pencil.
When they’d finally physically forced me into our classroom, I scrambled for my seat and didn’t look up the entire period.
A part of me knew I was making things worse, but honestly, the mortification of the whole situation was too much for me.
I was most worried about how my teacher troubles would affect my marks.
English is a very subjective course; your mark ultimately depends on the teacher’s perception of your work.
That’s why English takes forever to mark – all papers must get double marked, and there should be no discrepancies between teachers.
I feared, although irrational in hindsight, that my mark was going to be negatively affected by the whole ordeal.
There had been mounting pressure from my class to complain – and yet no one wanted to do it – but everyone hesitated because of this.
But a chat with my teacher helped clear all that up – professionalism remains.
By taking control of your education, you are not putting yourself at a risk of unfair marking and treatment.
You are rather ensuring that you will receive the best education possible – so go forth and may you resolve your teacher troubles!
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Dharni Patel is not really limited to being a 2017 HSC student; she’s a certified science nerd and baker, and to her knowledge, still holds the record for the most missed basketball/netball/anything-ball shots in her community. When she’s not buried in textbooks and gripping her beloved calculator Calci (4 unit maths does that to you), you’ll find her grazing the pages of Cosmos, playing with her 11-month Labrador Tyson or just planning how she’ll walk to accept her Nobel Prize in Chemistry (but she’ll settle for a Nobel in biology or medicine if she must).