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how to deal with a bad teacher

How to Deal With a Bad Teacher: 15 Strategies to Survive the School Year

Would you like to know how to deal with a bad teacher? Having a bad teacher can feel like a death sentence for the whole family. Sadly, there is nothing you can do about it immediately but hope for the best.

What makes it worse is when every other parent in the class starts complaining after the first day of school because they know what it is going to be like for the next nine months.

And then there is always that one crazy mom…

She starts carrying on loudly about how the school is terrible, and she is going to get a class change. She knows people and this isn’t right… yada, yada, yada. You know it’s gonna be a long year with her too.

To be truthful, the whole thing stinks if your child has been put in the class with the bad teacher and the crazy mom. (Yep, I just said it.)

As a parent, I know this can be hard, but as a teacher, I can see hope. There are things you can do to mitigate the situation.

Check out these 15 insider tips from a teacher mom who understands both sides of the classroom. These tips will help you have a good year even if the teacher is lacking in a few areas.

Most of all, don’t give up. Your child needs you to help him learn the material one way or another.

How to Deal With a Bad Teacher

So what do you do when you get a bad teacher? Here are some great tips to help you deal with even the most difficult situations.

1. Wait and see

There have been some years it really wasn’t that bad. My son had a very strict math teacher, but she loved him. They got along great. I never once called or emailed her. I was so relieved.

In other years, I wasn’t so lucky. There were emails, conferences, and constant side-stepping just to get through the year.

Remember, there is always an adjustment period. The odd years of school are harder. (1st grade, 3rd grade, 5th grade, etc.) There is a big jump in learning. More is expected of your child these years.

Your child may be complaining because he is no longer babied any longer. It is a natural process of shock and adjustment. This is how to deal with a bad teacher–wait and see if it gets better.

RELATED: 50 Easy School Readiness Skills Parents Can Do With Kids [Printable Checklist]

2. Be involved

Keep up with what is going on in your child’s classes. Ask other parents if what you are hearing is correct. Read the emails and paperwork your teacher sends home. They are all important.

Check your child’s grades and be aware of projects. Most schools have this option online now. These are good things to do no matter what your teacher is like. You don’t need to remind of assignments, just be aware.

Deal with a bad teacher by understanding what is going on in the classroom first.

3. Get ALL the details from your child

If you want to know how to deal with a bad teacher, then ask questions before you judge. Find out the exact details (as best you can) before you write that email, talk on the phone, or go in for a meeting. There are always two sides to a story.

You may not have a bad teacher; perhaps you are not getting the whole story.

Even as a mom teacher, I have been snookered into believing one thing from my child only to find out it wasn’t the whole truth. Boy, was I surprised! It was only part of the story.

Kids tend to slant things to their side. We all do. Just keep that in mind before you proceed.

And don’t yell at your kids when you find the whole truth. Calm down first and realize you are all working toward the same thing–learning the material. This is such a good way to deal with a bad teacher.

RELATED: How to Stop Yelling at Your Kids: 7 Easy Tips to Be a Calm Parent

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4. Diagnose the problem

Before you try to deal with the problem, try to understand how the teacher is managing the classroom. Chances are it is one of these four things the teacher is doing or not doing:

1. Too hard/goes too fast

2. Yells/severe

3. Too easy/lacking in classroom discipline

4. Not qualified/can’t relay the material to the kids

Sometimes it is a combination of several things.  If you want to understand how to deal with a bad teacher then realize teachers are learning too and may need a little constructive criticism. Approach the teacher with some positive things she has done and then slip in your suggestions. Close with some more positive words.

Be kind with your words even if you are dealing with a teacher who can’t teach. It is not easy to manage a classroom and teach the curriculum within a certain time period every day.

5. Address it early

There is a fine balance between when to step in and when to wait. Academic issues cannot wait very long. If you see your child come home with a few failing grades, it is time to talk to the teacher (after you have talked to your child).

Find out what your child can do to help him pass the homework, projects, or tests. It is better to catch it at the homework stage instead of waiting for a few failing tests.

If you want to deal with a bad teacher, learn how to work with her. Get supplemental work, have your child stay after school for tutoring, or work with your child extra at home. A good education includes the parents whether you have a good or bad teacher.

RELATED: 40 Fun Reading Activities For Pre-School and Elementary Age Kids

6. Communicate appropriately with the teacher first

Go to the teacher first, not the principal! Stay calm. Approach the situation as a collaborator. You are a team working together for the good of your child. Keep it in the “I.” The following are examples of how to start the conversation: “I need your help.” “I don’t understand.” “I may have misunderstood.”

When you start a sentence with “you” or “why” it automatically puts the teacher on the defense. The teacher will feel attacked.

I have found many times my child did not have a bad teacher. It was actually my child (ugh) who was not taking notes correctly, studying enough, or talking too much during class.

If you want to know how to deal with a bad teacher, then act appropriately no matter how angry you are. You could be embarrassed if you don’t. There is a good chance it is your child. Gasp. 

Alienating your child’s teacher is the worst thing you can ever do as a parent. As a teacher, I have only had to deal with a rude parent two times. And it was a horrible experience.

It made it difficult for me to have any real interaction with the child after the parent trashed me. It definitely made it harder for me to love the child.

RELATED: What to Say in a Parent-Teacher Conference: 21 Hacks From a Teacher Mom

7. Support the teacher when possible

Support your teacher when possible. Give the benefit of the doubt. There are very few teachers who would just decide to dislike a child.

Teachers go to their job every day because they love teaching. And they love kids. They sure aren’t teaching for the money!

In past years, many teachers have protected their kids during a school shooting. Some of them have given their lives for their kids. That is true dedication.

I bet you wouldn’t see that kind of love in an office or another place of employment. Most teachers do care. Don’t forget that.

RELATED: Reversing the Moral Decline In America by Raising Kids Who Love God

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8. Talk to the principal

After you have talked with the teacher, go to the principal. Ask for a meeting with the principal and teacher. Not before then. Nothing makes a teacher angrier than going over her head without giving her a chance to correct the situation.

If the situation is not better, let the principal know what is going on in the classroom. You may have an inexperienced teacher who needs help. This gives the teacher a chance to improve with a little more pressure.

Try to work together as a team. You should all be on the same page.

Don’t forget the end game is your child. You want your child to learn in a safe environment with a teacher who is not hostile toward him. This is how to deal with a bad teacher.

9. Address the situation as a group

If the teacher and the principal won’t listen, talk to other parents. Get parents together and address the situation as a  group. There is power in numbers. It makes a statement.

My son had a horrible baseball coach in high school. Over the years, parents had gone to the head coach and complained individually. Nothing happened.

The year after my son left, a group of parents got together and went to the athletic director of the school district. They complained as a big group and got him fired.

Sadly, this coach had verbally destroyed a lot of boys during his tenure. I think a few baseball careers were probably squashed too. Don’t be afraid to get aggressive if you know the coach/teacher should be gone.

10. Volunteer at the school

One of the best ways to see what is going on first-hand is to volunteer at the school. Work in the lunchroom, the library, or be a room mom. Come up at lunch and eat with your child when he is in elementary school.

You will grow two heads after sixth grade so take advantage of the limited lunch years. 

Go to the class parties. It will give you a chance to see how the teacher interacts with the students. This is how to deal with a bad teacher.

RELATED: Family Bonding Activities: Fun Ways to Spend Time Together

11. Learn to cope

When you have a bad teacher, you have to learn to cope with the situation. You can’t always have the best teacher, the best principal, or the best school.

News alert: There is no perfect teacher. Someday your child will not have the best boss either. This is life. Character traits can be taught and lessons learned by working with a difficult person.

Coach your older child (11-12 yrs or older) on how to handle the problems before you step in. You don’t want to rescue at every juncture.

Step in after the child has tried on his own a few times. Obviously, if the teacher is inappropriate or your child is failing, address it immediately. Those two things cannot wait. This is how to deal with a bad teacher.

12. Work around a teacher with bad characteristics

You may have to work around a teacher with bad characteristics. See if your child can get extra tutoring after school with another teacher or hire a tutor if your child isn’t “getting it.” YouTube is also a great way to find help. There is a video that explains anything your child needs to learn.

My daughter had a math teacher that knew her content, but she was very impatient. She yelled and got angry when the students asked questions. She was not good at explaining the steps over and over again.

After going round and round with the teacher and the principal, we finally hired a private tutor. My daughter was able to learn math and pass the class. I’m still a little miffed we had to hire a tutor, but you can’t change a teacher.

Sometimes you have to work around a bad teacher.

Do what you need to do to make sure your child learns the material. By the way, that math teacher was fired. I think that was because of me.

Uh, sorry, not sorry. 

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13. Have a good attitude

Have a good attitude. Listen to what other parents have to say, but always talk nicely about the teacher in front of your child.

If you give your child an inch, he will take a mile. Your child will use any ill feelings you have toward the teacher as a way to slide through the class without putting forth the full effort required to do the assignments.

You do not deal with a bad teacher by trashing her. It will not help.

14. Pray for the bad teacher

I can’t tell you how many times I prayed for my kid’s teachers before they were assigned to the new school year. ( I still pray for my daughter’s college professors.)

It made a huge difference.

Several times their schedule was miraculously changed, and they got out of a bad teacher’s class. When they did have a bad teacher, I prayed for favor.

Over and over again I saw how my kids would escape the wrath of a teacher when other kids didn’t fare so well. This didn’t always happen, but I knew God was with my kids through the hard times. He protected them even when things were difficult.

You and your child can pray for your child’s teacher throughout the year. Pray for your attitude and your child’s attitude.

I remember when my son hated his first-grade teacher. We worked really hard to help him adjust. Many prayers were said over the situation. By Thanksgiving, he wanted her to go camping with us and sleep in our tent.

Prayer is how to deal with a bad teacher. It works! Pray extra hard if you have a rude teacher!

RELATED: 25 Different Methods of Prayer That Are Powerful

15. Change schools

Don’t be afraid to change schools. One of my kids was having a hard time at school. It had been going on for a while. The school environment was becoming more hostile to what we believed, and our child was becoming unusually disinterested in anything.

The teachers were not bad per se, but the classes were so big it was hard to get individual attention.

We moved to a smaller Christian school. The class ratio was 15:1. It made a huge difference. Immediately our child started thriving again.

The teachers cared, the work was challenging but manageable, and the environment was positive. It was one of the best years of my child’s life. If you want to know how to deal with a bad teacher (or school), then consider removing your child from a bad situation. Sometimes the best way to resolve a problem is to start over elsewhere.

RELATED: How to Find a Good School: 29 Insider Secrets From a Teacher-Mom

What Are the Signs of a Bad Teacher?

A bad teacher is someone who will not work with you or your child. Furthermore, a bad teacher is someone who doesn’t care about helping your child succeed or is just plain rude. Bad teacher characteristics will show up in lesson preparation, grading, communication with parents, and time spent tutoring. Most of all, a bad teacher will have a bad attitude, act rudely, or behave in a sarcastic manner.

This kind of teacher may be better working elsewhere. As a parent, you have the right to bring these issues to the principal, if you have talked to the teacher multiple times with no action.

The impact of teachers on students is lifelong. A good teacher can help your child find his purpose in life, while a bad teacher can destroy him in a matter of months.

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How to Overcome a Bad Teacher

You can overcome a bad teacher no matter what the situation by focusing on the good qualities of your child’s teacher. You can’t always control what teacher your child gets, but you can control how to deal with a bad teacher by the way you behave and talk. Be professional.

Don’t forget the main goal is for your child to get a good education and learn how to work through difficult problems. Working through life problems is just as important as learning content.

It is good practice for your child to learn how to navigate hard situations before he has to do it for real someday.

You can survive with a bad teacher and learn some good life skills in the process. It just takes a little more creativity and lots of prayers.

 Did you learn how to deal with a bad teacher? Tell me about your experience in the comments below. 

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72 thoughts on “How to Deal With a Bad Teacher: 15 Strategies to Survive the School Year”

  1. These are great tips! My son isn’t at the age where I have to worry about teachers yet, but it will be coming soon. I’ll have to keep these tips in mind. Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is a really helpful post, i think sometimes people do not know how to handle these kinds of situations because you do not expect a teacher to be a problem.

  3. It is difficult working with a teacher that isn’t on your team. We homeschool now, but when my son was in preschool, we had a teacher and principal that didn’t seem to do the right thing concerning my son. He once got in trouble for biting a student and I thought that seemed odd. He’d never been a biter. When I asked him about it, he told me he and the other boy were pretending they were cars and the other boy shoved his fingers in my son’s mouth like he was pumping gas. Well, duh, if someone shoves their fingers in my mouth, I’m probably going to bite them.

  4. This is such a great article to read by all parents like me. It is so important to identify the problem and good communication is a key to have a better relationship not only to your child but also to his/her teachers.

  5. Listening to your child and identifying issues is key! Ideally we won’t have to deal with bad teachers, but great tips just in case!

  6. Such great tips, thanks for sharing. I remember when I was young, I had an English teacher that I thought would be the worst. Almost a decade later, we still keep in touch.

  7. As a teacher, I loved how positive many of your solutions were. I doubt I’m one of those bad teachers (LOL), but many of these tips are important as a general guidelines for working together with teachers. I definitely advocate getting the whole story from teachers. I’ve had some odd stories come back to me in the past that were embellished by students (they’re only in kindergarten) haha!

    1. Melissa, you aren’t kidding. Kids like to embellish no matter the age.
      My kids embellished stories when they were even attending high school. It’s so embarrassing. I found out my daughter was talking all the time instead of taking notes. Ugh.

  8. I’m wondering how you’re defining a bad teacher. If it’s because students are complaining the teacher is giving too much homework, I don’t think that makes a teacher bad. As long as the homework is relevant to what is being taught, teachers shouldn’t be considered bad teachers because they give homework. If they come to class unprepared and are verbally abusive, I would consider that a bad teacher. However, it’s a slippery slope. It’s important to get all the details before labelling a teacher bad. Often school is not easy for the students or the teacher.

    1. Nancie, I have no problems with homework. What I have a problem with is when a teacher doesn’t teach properly, and then expects the students to do the homework without sufficient instruction. That is a bad teacher to me. Especially when it is math.
      A bad teacher does not create a safe environment to ask questions either.

  9. Teachers can really make or break someone’s experience at school, from young kids to adults at uni. It really sucks when you get a bad one that you just have to deal with, but these are some great tips on how to cope with such a situation! As for the crazy mum (which mine was), there really isn’t anything you can do except for stay out of her way!

  10. I did not pay attention to the teacher good or bad. But after reading this article I just realized that this is very important to students, especially kids. thanks for the tips ^^

  11. Communication with the teacher and work as a team for the good of your child is the key. I don’t believe by just listening to one side of the story from the kid.

  12. This post is really indeed! Bad teacher not means that they torture or child or what ever. HAHAHHAHA! sometimes being bad teacher can make a child discipline This is a great tips!

  13. This is such a tough one. I had a teacher in middle school who, in hindsight, I realize was sexually harassing me and other girls. Of course, at the time I just knew he made me really uncomfortable. I’m trying to strike a balance with my kids where they will raise the flag on real issues with teachers without feeling like they can just get away from any teacher they don’t like.

    1. Yes, that is why I said if there the teacher is inappropriate, you need to deal with it right away. I think having a sexual harassment conversation and defining what that looks like is important. Thank God for the #metoo movement and #timesup! We have come a long way. By the way, I had a teacher and an administrator make advances at me. I never told about one them. I didn’t think anyone who believe me.

  14. There always a good teacher and a bad teacher, and I agreed with all you have said, we have to speak up and open up our voice and dealing with it in a smart way. I think it apply to the bully problem too.

    1. Yes, we had that problem with my son in 5th grade. I hate to tell you how we dealt with it…I don’t think you can do what we did now. It worked though. After months of talking to the teachers and principal, we told my son to defend himself. The kids punched him at recess, so my son went after him. They had to pull my son off of the kids. My son punched him back. OF course, my son was suspended for a day. But he NEVER had a problem again. You have to stand up to bully some way. They will not go away until you do. My son didn’t get in trouble with us at all.

  15. I remember having to switch schools one year my teacher was so bad.. Not only me but a few of my friends too. We were lucky though, as the town was sooo small. Luckily it was a slit french english community so there was a second school of english kids. The new school was so small my class included kids from grade 1 through 6 and there were still only 20 of us! I didn’t miss the bad teacher though she used to swear at us and yell all the time!

    1. Those are the worst kind of teachers. And it is so hard to get a teacher fired in public school.It seems the teacher has to be a psycho to get fired. It is so frustrating. I hope the small school worked out ok.

  16. Love this post and saving for just in case (even though I am hopeful I will never need it 😉 ). My older 2 kids (1st and 2nd grade) luckily attend a great school, but I will say I still have my favorites. I think communication is HUGE! So many parents just sit back and only complain without getting involved.

    1. Tracy, isn’t that the truth. I know everyone wants to believe their child is perfect, but I can tell you there are quite a few little rascals in the classroom. If parents only knew some of the things their kids say to me. It is kinda funny. Thanks for your comment.

  17. I remember having a teacher in Elementary school that was quite terrible. Don’t forget that your child is in the middle. So be nice and work with the teacher so you child doesn’t get the short end of the stick. On a side note, I am still a student (in college) and I still come across some terrible teachers. With that being said your child will have to learn how to deal with it and how to overcome the obstacle. Thanks for the post!

    1. Yes, that is why we could never do anything about our horrible baseball coach. He would take it out on our boys. It was a terrible situation. So difficult to navigate. Thanks for your comment.

  18. I was interested to read this because I am a former teacher. I was pleasantly surprised by your tips. These are all right on point. My absolute favorite quote is, “You are a team working together for the good of your child.” This the most truthful thing parents need to know.

  19. I love this! I’m a mom and former teacher. I love the steps because it’s best to look at everything before taking any action.

  20. As a teacher myself, I don’t ever want anyone to have to survive a “bad teacher”. Sometimes parents jump to conclusions without giving things time and sometimes the school year is not so great. You made some very good suggestions on ways to slow down and help.

    1. Angie, thanks for saying this. That is why it put it in the number one spot. You have to give the teacher a chance. Kids are not always easy to please, and they don’t like it when things get hard. Sometimes extra studying is all the child needs to do to make it better.

  21. This is all great advice! I think all too often parents jump in and act on what the child tells them rather than get all the info first. When I was a kid I had a “bad” teacher for English. I thought my whole year was going to tank. Turned out she wasn’t bad at all and was one of my favorite teachers! Waiting it out a bit is very good advice!

    1. Diana, it does take time for the teacher and the students to get into a stride. I am glad you waited it out. Sometimes patience is all that is needed. Thanks for your comment.

    1. Yes, I agree it is good to speak up if your child’s grades are tanking or the teacher is horribly inappropriate. Other times it is good to wait and see if it is really that bad. Thanks for the comment.

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