Teachers have traditionally been placed on a pedestal and thought to be above reproach. It has generally been assumed that they always knew what was best for children and had their best interests in mind.
Whether it’s better communication, more stress and less patience or an overall change in societal mores, the truth is teachers are people too and have the capacity to harm as well as help children. Some transgressions are overt, while others may be more subtle.
1. Singling out a child – Sometimes a child will be singled out by a teacher for whatever reason and made to feel conspicuous. For some children this can cause them to withdraw and underperform in hopes of becoming invisible.
2. Influencing other teachers – You may think that a poor teacher/student relationship in one class will end when your child moves on to the next grade level or out of that particular classroom; this not always the case. Teachers have been known to influence the views of other teachers regarding their attitudes towards specific children. Sometimes this is done through verbal communication among teachers, but it also done through notations in a students file that passing on from one grade level to the other. When the notation is a negative one, it may put your child at a disadvantage before they even enter a classroom.
3. Lowered expectations – Children have a tendency to perform up to or down to expectations. If for some reason the teacher has lowered expectations for your child you will want to address this as it will have an impact on your child’s performance in school.
4. Limited interaction – Ignore them and they will go away. Sometimes a personality conflict will cause a teacher to ignore a child and make that child feel invisible. This will be detrimental to the child’s self esteem. Imagine never being called on in class when you know you know the answer; never being chosen to go to the board or be the teacher’s helper; never being acknowledged at all. This is hardly an environment in which a child could thrive.
5. Labeling – Our society is quick to label people without considering the consequences. Boys especially get labeled as being ADHD or hyperactive whether or not they’ve been diagnosed with the disorder. Sometimes children have a lot of energy or perhaps they are kinetic learners and neither is necessarily indicative of hyperactivity.
6. Incompatible learning and teaching styles – There are different learning styles and if the teacher is teaching to one style to the exclusion of the others, your child could suffer. Good teachers understand the different learning styles and try to integrate all styles into the curriculum
7. Corporal punishment – Most schools have outlawed corporal punishment but occasionally a teacher will loose his or her temper and end up striking a child. There have been a few cases recently that have come to light where students were abused. Be aware of this, especially if your child has a condition such as autism and cannot tell you if they are being mistreated.
8. Ridicule – Sometimes a teacher will ridicule a child in front of the class. There is no reason to do this, as it serves no positive purpose. Ridiculing a child to prevent him from acting out or to get him or her to do better is not proactive or productive.
9. Sexual abuse – We all want to believe that these things can’t happen to our child, and yet, the possibility exists as many parents will attest to. Be aware of changes in your child’s behavior and don’t think that boys are immune to sexual abuse. It may not occur often, but the fact that it happens at all means that parents need to be cautious.
10. Verbal abuse – Sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but sometimes words can kill. Children, especially young children want to please adults. A verbally abusive teacher can kill a child’s motivation. Some teachers have been known to call certain students names like “stupid” or “imbecile”. Anytime a teacher uses words to hurt a child or break a child’s spirit they are being verbally abusive.
By far the vast majority of teachers deserve to be held in the highest regard. As one teacher put it, “Education students need to realize that teaching is a calling not just a job.” Teachers give of themselves everyday and are second only to parents in the care and wellbeing of our young. They deserve our respect and support. The biggest way they can be supported is by parents being involved with their child’s education and this involvement will also weed out those few teachers who would bring harm to our kids.
Debbie Denard http://www.nanny.net/blog/10-ways-a-teacher-could-harm-your-child/