Many students do not feel comfortable addressing issues they have with their teacher's behavior. Although most teachers provide a respectful environment, some may make inappropriate comments to their students. The teacher may not intend to hurt students, but these comments can affect school and home life. If your child faces these issues, or if you face them as an adult student, knowing how to handle the problem can resolve and prevent further issues.
Types of Comments
Some types of offensive remarks include sexual references or racist comments. A teacher may also make insensitive or mean remarks about mental issues or physical appearances. Even if you take offense to a comment but another student does not, you should not discount any comment that makes you feel uncomfortable or hurt. If, at any time, the teacher makes a comment that makes you or another student feel unsafe, you should not confront the teacher. Instead, immediately contact the teacher’s supervisor or seek help from local or campus law enforcement.
If the teacher has made a number of remarks, you should keep a list, noting the dates and times of the inappropriate comments. You should also make a note of the comment made by the teacher, as close to a direct quote as possible. If your child’s teacher made these remarks, you may have a more difficult time getting an exact quote of the comment made by the teacher. You may also want to make note of anyone else who heard the comments. The list will help you recall the exact events and may help you see the comment in a different way to determine if you misunderstood or if the teacher may have had a different intent behind the words.
You may want to begin by setting up a time to meet with the teacher to discuss your concerns. Before you attend the meeting, make notes of the points you want to make. This may include writing down you or your child’s feelings about the comments and how this has impacted you or your family. When you talk with the teacher, you should state your concerns and share the emotions involved with the teacher’s remarks. However, you should try not to use threatening language since this may create a volatile environment and create emotional or angry outbursts between you and the teacher. Share your concerns, but do so in a calm manner to help improve communication.
Prior to your meeting with the teacher, consider the outcome that would satisfy you, such as acknowledgement or an apology. Or, perhaps you simply want to express your concerns and hope the teacher does not repeat this behavior in the future. Whatever your goal when you meet, go in with an idea of what you hope to achieve during your meeting. This may help you work toward a resolution or accept a compromise.
If the teacher does not want to discuss your concerns, or if the comments continue after you bring them to her attention, you may need to file a formal complaint. For elementary, middle school and high school teachers, you can begin by talking with the school principle. If this does not result in a change in the teacher’s behavior, you may need to take your concerns to the local school board. For college professors, you can begin by going to the head of the department. You can also choose to file a formal complaint using your college’s specific complaint policy outlined in the student handbook.
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