Need input regarding high school teacher/admin

AlistarWills

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At my child's high school, a math teacher of some longevity retired last year and the high level courses he was teaching was taken over by a new hire and another teacher on staff. This year lots and lots of kids that everyone would call really smart are really struggling. We're talking Beta club kids making 40's on tests. The particular teacher my child is dealing with (we'll call him TA) belittles the kids when they ask questions. One kid got a 'this is why we can't get anything done, you can't learn anything' comment early in the year.

It has happened enough that the kids no longer ask questions. There are other teachers that began to come in at 6:30 in the mornings multiple days a week and hold tutoring sessions. Many of these kids go to the tutoring sessions in order to learn the material so they can pass the tests. Other kids have private tutors. One day one of the tutoring teachers goes to another class and is teaching the math to the kids in that class. TA walked by the door and saw what was happening. When the kids get in TA's class, he is frustrated and gets on to them about going to other teachers for help and wanting to know why they won't come to him. He could tutor as well. So now the kids feel pressure for going to someone who won't treat them poorly for asking questions.

This week, TA assigned 50+ problems for homework one night. My child sat down to do it and the first thing out of the mouth was "he didn't teach us how to do this!" Talking to other parents, their children expressed the same frustration. Some kids were at the point of tears because grades are so bad and they are having to teach themselves. They did their normal thing, look for videos online to show them how they are supposed to do it, go to morning tutoring sessions, one even texted one of the tutor teachers asking for help. (Significant amounts of homework is a nightly thing for this guy. Even gave homework over Thanksgiving break.)

I'm not sure it if was the same day or not, but TA told some kids that they wouldn't be going to a University the would just be going to a JUCO so them learning the particular skill wasn't going to matter. He told a couple of other kids that they would work McDonald's the rest of their lives so it didn't matter if they learned it.

Accused another child of sleeping in class with their eyes open. A parent posted some frustration regarding the homework on facebook. It got back to TA and he brought it up in class when assigning homework to not go run tell their parents its some outrageous number and let them post on facebook, while looking at the kids who's parent made the post.

A parent of the kid with the McDonalds comment (also the eye open sleeper) went to the school to meet with the Principal. TA was defended from the moment the kids parent walked in the door. TA has the best test scores. TA is the best teacher. No one has ever accused TA of calling kids names. Your child took the McDonald's comment wrong, it was "sarcastic humor".

For every child that doesn't like TA, there is this inordinate number of kids who love him. (this is a total falsehood, I haven't found a kid yet that likes the guy because he's been such a jerk to them). The facebook post by another kids parent got brought up in this meeting. People are afraid to go to the school and complain because rarely does anything ever get done except the kids get retaliated against. TA had someone sit in on his classes and got glowing remarks because he was on his best behavior that day. The kids even acknowledged it was the nicest he'd ever been but soon as they left things got bad again. If you go to the school board, they get mad because you didn't go to the local school first, then the Principal is mad because you went over their heads.

Adding some further backstory to TA, I have two separate friends who's kids have had this guy for lower level math classes. One was afraid to ask any questions in class because of how he treated those who did, so his mom taught him Algebra 1 at home every night because he didn't understand the teaching method. Another's daughter was a cheerleader and when TA learned she was the only cheerleader in his class he commented that "so you're the one that's going to fail this class" and threw every dumb cheerleader stereotype out at her. After a couple tests with the highest grade he finally left her alone.

I know of another child who failed TA's math class and had to go to Summer School. One of teachers that is doing morning tutoring, taught the Summer School class and the kid aced it, said it was really easy with the different teacher.

My question, and what I'm needing advice on, is what do we do? The Principal defends regardless of the accusation. Parents are not heard. How can we as parents attack this situation and be heard.
 
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Con

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Dec 19, 2006
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@AlistarWills I hate it for your child. My child just graduated a couple of years ago from a great magnet school but there was a lot of stress for him in the math classes though. I worked at the school and I thought the teachers were great, but high level math is just flat out tough to teach.

A principal will back his/her teachers all the time to the parents, but behind closed doors that may not be the case. That is what I have been around anyway. You and the other parents could just continue to voice your displeasure with TA and something will eventually have to give. If nothing ever does, maybe go to the board to see if they can help. There is strength in numbers though so you and the other parents need to stick together on this.

Since I am not a math teacher I am guessing you are not talking about me. :)
 

NatchezTider

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At my child's high school, a math teacher of some longevity retired last year and the high level courses he was teaching was taken over by a new hire and another teacher on staff. This year lots and lots of kids that everyone would call really smart are really struggling. We're talking Beta club kids making 40's on tests. The particular teacher my child is dealing with (we'll call him TA) belittles the kids when they ask questions. One kid got a 'this is why we can't get anything done, you can't learn anything' comment early in the year. It has happened enough that the kids no longer ask questions. There are other teachers that began to come in at 6:30 in the mornings multiple days a week and hold tutoring sessions. Many of these kids go to the tutoring sessions in order to learn the material so they can pass the tests. Other kids have private tutors. One day one of the tutoring teachers goes to another class and is teaching the math to the kids in that class. TA walked by the door and saw what was happening. When the kids get in TA's class, he is frustrated and gets on to them about going to other teachers for help and wanting to know why they won't come to him. He could tutor as well. So now the kids feel pressure for going to someone who won't treat them poorly for asking questions.
This week, TA assigned 50+ problems for homework one night. My child sat down to do it and the first thing out of the mouth was "he didn't teach us how to do this!" Talking to other parents, their children expressed the same frustration. Some kids were at the point of tears because grades are so bad and they are having to teach themselves. They did their normal thing, look for videos online to show them how they are supposed to do it, go to morning tutoring sessions, one even texted one of the tutor teachers asking for help. (Significant amounts of homework is a nightly thing for this guy. Even gave homework over Thanksgiving break.) I'm not sure it if was the same day or not, but TA told some kids that they wouldn't be going to a University the would just be going to a JUCO so them learning the particular skill wasn't going to matter. He told a couple of other kids that they would work McDonald's the rest of their lives so it didn't matter if they learned it. Accused another child of sleeping in class with their eyes open. A parent posted some frustration regarding the homework on facebook. It got back to TA and he brought it up in class when assigning homework to not go run tell their parents its some outrageous number and let them post on facebook, while looking at the kids who's parent made the post. A parent of the kid with the McDonalds comment (also the eye open sleeper) went to the school to meet with the Principal. TA was defended from the moment the kids parent walked in the door. TA has the best test scores. TA is the best teacher. No one has ever accused TA of calling kids names. Your child took the McDonald's comment wrong, it was "sarcastic humor". For every child that doesn't like TA, there is this inordinate number of kids who love him. (this is a total falsehood, I haven't found a kid yet that likes the guy because he's been such a jerk to them). The facebook post by another kids parent got brought up in this meeting. People are afraid to go to the school and complain because rarely does anything ever get done except the kids get retaliated against. TA had someone sit in on his classes and got glowing remarks because he was on his best behavior that day. The kids even acknowledged it was the nicest he'd ever been but soon as they left things got bad again. If you go to the school board, they get mad because you didn't go to the local school first, then the Principal is mad because you went over their heads.
Adding some further backstory to TA, I have two separate friends who's kids have had this guy for lower level math classes. One was afraid to ask any questions in class because of how he treated those who did, so his mom taught him Algebra 1 at home every night because he didn't understand the teaching method. Another's daughter was a cheerleader and when TA learned she was the only cheerleader in his class he commented that "so you're the one that's going to fail this class" and threw every dumb cheerleader stereotype out at her. After a couple tests with the highest grade he finally left her alone. I know of another child who failed TA's math class and had to go to Summer School. One of teachers that is doing morning tutoring, taught the Summer School class and the kid aced it, said it was really easy with the different teacher.

My question, and what I'm needing advice on, is what do we do? The Principal defends regardless of the accusation. Parents are not heard. How can we as parents attack this situation and be heard.
get a group of parents and request an appearance at the next school board meeting to voice your concerns....including some of the teacher’s remarks to students.
 

CrimsonNagus

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A parent of the kid with the McDonalds comment (also the eye open sleeper) went to the school to meet with the Principal. TA was defended from the moment the kids parent walked in the door. TA has the best test scores. TA is the best teacher. No one has ever accused TA of calling kids names. Your child took the McDonald's comment wrong, it was "sarcastic humor". For every child that doesn't like TA, there is this inordinate number of kids who love him.
Ugh! This gets under my skin so much. In this day and age it is amazing how schools continue to protect bullies. This teacher is being a bully and he should be treated as such.

You and the other parents need to come together and meet with the principle at the same time and basically force his hand. Threaten to go to your local media with a story of the bully teacher. Make life uncomfortable until the principle fixes the problem.
 
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rgw

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I don't think the belittling comments are acceptable and your administrator will nip that in the bud. The administrator will stick by the teacher's standards but, as Con mentioned, something will have to give if enough parents complain.


Furthermore, due to attrition in education, math and science has been hit hard and the new crop of math educators tend on being low-commitment types with smug attitudes and lacking team-cohesiveness with other educators (because they think they're special since it is so hard to hire one). The educator probably can't teach worth a damn and only doing it because teaching math often has a salary bonus.
 

Toddrn

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Nov 29, 2006
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I don't think the belittling comments are acceptable and your administrator will nip that in the bud. The administrator will stick by the teacher's standards but, as Con mentioned, something will have to give if enough parents complain.


Furthermore, due to attrition in education, math and science has been hit hard and the new crop of math educators tend on being low-commitment types with smug attitudes and lacking team-cohesiveness with other educators (because they think they're special since it is so hard to hire one). The educator probably can't teach worth a damn and only doing it because teaching math often has a salary bonus.
Lot's of baby boomers retiring. They are hiring a ton of young adults right out of college to teach math. As us older folks know it takes years to get really good at something. What ever the subject or task is you have to want to master it or it will master you.
 

Con

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Lot's of baby boomers retiring. They are hiring a ton of young adults right out of college to teach math. As us older folks know it takes years to get really good at something. What ever the subject or task is you have to want to master it or it will master you.
And just because you are good at Math doesn't mean you have the skills to teach it. When kids depend on a strong foundation to build on, having a weak teacher can be terrible for them later on.
 

BamaNation

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Good math teachers who can teach it and be empathetic are like unicorns in my experience. :D

It is never acceptable for a teacher to belittle a student. Those days are over. Having fun with kids, light sarcasm, etc. are fine & fun so long as everyone is in on the joke and is treated equally. Also, even if the teacher is right, kids don't like it when teachers talk down to the other kids because they know they could be next!

I had a Ph.D. multi-variate statistics class where the professor put the problem online, had us read 3-4 40-page high-level academic papers "explaining" the concept, then we had to work the problem based on our understanding of the reading (and learn the new statistics method's software application at the same time), then submit our problem solution + a 5-page write up for grading after which s/he would explain how to do it. This literally was an every week occurrence for 16 straight weeks. I typically spent 24+ hours on each problem each week. Wanted to quit many times, but refused to be defeated. I'm not the greatest mathematician but ended up with the highest grade in that class because I didn't quit. My colleagues would set a personal limit of like 10 hours and submit whatever they had at that point, but that philosophy is not in my DNA.

Higher level math is difficult for most people and most kids aren't going to spend inordinate amounts of time they don't have on learning what isn't taught. IMHO not having teachers who can teach effectively and get kids excited about the subject is 50+% of the problem (the other is usually general apathy on kids' part) and it shows up on my doorstep in the college classes I teach every semester.

Obviously the main problem with taking action is it could hurt the kids if this guy isn't receptive to discussions now and the powers-that-be don't hold him accountable.

If you don't think you can talk to the principal w/ the teacher in a group conference, contact your BOE rep and let them know what's going on - especially if the board in your area are elected! or do what Natchez said and go before the board - but I wouldn't do that unless I had tried the one-on-one / group-on-one discussions with him & principal first.

Good luck!
 

NationalTitles17

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Well, you have both a bad teacher and a bad principal with which to deal.

I agree with getting together with other parents to go to the principal first and if no change then the BOE then if no change the media.

I'd also tell my kid to turn the video recorder on and capture this jackhole belittling kids (after checking with someone who knows your state's laws on this). There's nothing like video/audio to convince someone that something really is happening.
 
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AlistarWills

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Well, you have both a bad teacher and a bad principal with which to deal.

I agree with getting together with other parents to go to the principal first and if no change then the BOE then if no change the media.

I'd also tell my kid to turn the video recorder on and capture this jackhole belittling kids (after checking with someone who knows your state's laws on this). There's nothing like video/audio to convince someone that something really is happening.
i have wondered if it was possible to get a closed circuit Camera set up with a monitor in another room so the class could be monitored without the teacher knowing. It could let the actions in the class be viewed by parents with questions. Every time someone observed the class from inside the room, this guy is on his absolute best behavior. All the kids acknowledge that he’s quite different. I just don’t think the school will go for it.
As far as the kids recording, their phones are in book bags across the room from them and they cannot get to them during class.
 

NationalTitles17

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i have wondered if it was possible to get a closed circuit Camera set up with a monitor in another room so the class could be monitored without the teacher knowing. It could let the actions in the class be viewed by parents with questions. Every time someone observed the class from inside the room, this guy is on his absolute best behavior. All the kids acknowledge that he’s quite different. I just don’t think the school will go for it.
As far as the kids recording, their phones are in book bags across the room from them and they cannot get to them during class.
Assuming it's legal he could set it to record before setting it down.
 

alabama mike1

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Document the date and times you have had a meeting with the teacher, school counselor or principal. If nothing is done, take it to the next school board meeting with your documentation. Hopefully, you will have other parents join with you but if not, its not going to be an easy road for your child.
 
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alabama mike1

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IDK where this is happening, but, in Alabama, it's legal if either party knows the recording is happening. I see some value in getting this character on video...
I would urge you to check your school handbook because there may be a board policy (law) of recording a teacher without their knowledge.
 

Ledsteplin

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"This year lots and lots of kids that everyone would call really smart are really struggling. We're talking Beta club kids making 40's on tests."

If this is true, I don't see how the Principal and Admins can not notice the grade slump of several bright students, that have occurred only in this new teacher's class. One would think they would notice something ain't right!
 
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tidehawk

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As a retired public school principal and current private school Algebra teacher, I totally sympathize with you. a few bullet points for you to consider:

- Document everything that is happening with your child and communicate with the administration. Don't bring up other kids, but have their parents document as well and bring their own concerns to the administration. Keep the heat on the principal. Communicate with other parents and have them voice concerns as well. If complaints/concerns are coming from just one parent, that's one thing. But if constant concerns are being raised from multiple parents, it will be noticed.
- Don't be overly concerned with the principal taking up for the teacher. A principal's job is to look out for everyone - students, teachers, support staff, etc. Many times I would have conferences with parents about teachers I knew were in the wrong, but I didn't throw them under the bus. Praise in public, correct in private. I would have to believe your principal knows there is a problem.
- If things seem to be stagnant and things don't improve, I would definitely take it to the next level. I would email the superintendent with concerns, letting him know that you have brought concerns to the principal with no results. I would raise the academic struggles of course, but I would really make sure that the name-calling and belittling of students is brought to the forefront. That is inexcusable.
- Stay the course. Don't worry about being a thorn in the side of the principal. Do it the right way, and you should see results. It might have to wait until the end of the year, but it will happen.

Hope this helps.
 
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tidehawk

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i have wondered if it was possible to get a closed circuit Camera set up with a monitor in another room so the class could be monitored without the teacher knowing. It could let the actions in the class be viewed by parents with questions. Every time someone observed the class from inside the room, this guy is on his absolute best behavior. All the kids acknowledge that he’s quite different. I just don’t think the school will go for it.
As far as the kids recording, their phones are in book bags across the room from them and they cannot get to them during class.
Monitoring the teacher without his/her knowledge is illegal and unethical.
 

AlistarWills

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Monitoring the teacher without his/her knowledge is illegal and unethical.
that’s where I’m torn on even asking for something like that but it’s the only thing I could think of that would allow an adult to see what the kids are experiencing
some folks had mentioned the kids using their phone to record what goes on in class. while they can’t get to their phones I remembered my child saying the teacher mumbles a lot. My child Has one desk between them and the teacher yet has trouble hearing him on many occasions.
 

tidehawk

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that’s where I’m torn on even asking for something like that but it’s the only thing I could think of that would allow an adult to see what the kids are experiencing
some folks had mentioned the kids using their phone to record what goes on in class. while they can’t get to their phones I remembered my child saying the teacher mumbles a lot. My child Has one desk between them and the teacher yet has trouble hearing him on many occasions.
If multiple kids have the same thing to say in separate conversations, that's hard to dispute. That's why some conversations between affected parents and having each speak with the admins would be effective.
 
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