How to Approach a Stubborn Teacher?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: How to Approach a Stubborn Teacher?
By Simba (Simba) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:43 am: Edit

S is having lots of trouble in taking the classes he wants in Senior year. Finally, it seems that most of his classes will work out if he were to do Self Study in Statistics.

The school administration left it on the Stat teacher by saying that if it was OK with him, it is OK with them.

We sent an e-mail. He didn't respond directly to us, but sent the reply to his counselor. The e-mail said, "I thought about it for couple of days and decided against it. In my opinion, it would not be fair to my S because there will be some group activity and lab work".

S is planning to talk to him (he does not want us to talk to him or the school administration). Wow what a change !! - Only yesterday I was worried about him handling college life (surprise).

Any suggestions or hints??

By Aparent4 (Aparent4) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:49 am: Edit

Good for your s, going for what he wants! My d did a self-study course about which the teacher was reluctant. As a result, it didn't turn out to be the best experience. Could your s take stat through one of the distance learning programs?

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:49 am: Edit

It's great that S wants to talk in person.
Have S read some articles about negotiations. An important part of negotiations is to listen to the other person's concerns. If one understands the other person's concerns, it may be possible to meet their needs and your own needs.

For instance, S needs to find out exactly what group work and lab work is involved. He needs to listen carefully to this and then figure out if there's a way that he can do those things while also doing his other work.

By Achat (Achat) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:52 am: Edit

yes, I think he should talk in person with the counselor. It will be good practice.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 11:56 am: Edit

My son ended up with a "negotiation" his senior year. Comp Sci III at his school was independent study. He had a conflict with his band class. The director let him attend every other day (they had block scheduling) during the fall and he dropped to third band (the only every other day band) during the last semester. My son respected the director for his decision, and I think he respected - though he may not have understood - my son's decision. Everything worked out just fine in the end. If he is motivated to do this, he will most likely make it work.

By Lefthandofdog (Lefthandofdog) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 12:25 pm: Edit

Why not have your son study on his own and take the AP exam as validation of the work he's done (and possibly college credit)? Since it's his senior year he wouldn't have his grade until July before college, but maybe his counsellor could add a line in his recommendation about your son finding a creative way to learn material that his schedule didn't allow. (This wouldn't work if he needs the credits to graduate, but I'd guess that anyone taking statistics has already finished the required courses.) Is it possible to take the course through a local community college?

By Simba (Simba) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 02:03 pm: Edit

Thanks..I like the part about negotiation. Northstarmom can you elaborate further?

I think part of the problem might be that the teacher may feel that he is 'slighted'. The teacher may feel that if STAT is important, he should give up Chem II and take his class.

And alongfortheride....yes band has been a great ride (even for us)!!!

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 04:30 pm: Edit

The most important part of negotiation is to take the time to find out what the other person really wants. The big mistake that people make while negotiating is assuming that they know exactly what the other person's objection is.

If, for instance, the class requires group projects, the teacher may fear that a student who's taking it as an independent study won't be able to meet with a group. If, though, the group meetings are after school hours and your son has friends in the class, it may be easy for him to be involved in group projects.

The quintessential fable of negotiations involves 2 kids who are fighting over the last orange in the house. When a parent comes in and has each describe what they want, it ends up that one kid wants to eat the orange and the other kid wants to use the rind to make cookies. One orange. Different needs. Both kids got what they want and were happy.

Something to keep in mind when negotiating....

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 05:20 pm: Edit

Northstarmom, I love the orange. I agree that you don't know what the other person's objection is until you ask them. But, I also feel that sometimes in a certain school, it is the unspoken or something that has been articulated by other teachers in the school and not the one you are dealing with that is the concern. In our district, there is a new push to better the passing rates on AP exams. In this case, the pressure is being put on the teachers to better prepare the kids for the test, and those teachers who don't have good rates are being told to improve those rates. I am supposing that those who don't will be put on the principal's watch list. (I don't think that they should teach to the test, but agree that they should teach to college level which should take care of the test.) It could be that the teacher is worried about passing rates for those kids he doesn't have a hands on teaching/lab relationship
with, or he just genuinely could be concerned that he might not do as well without the group activity and lab work. I do agree with Northstarmom that negotiation is the best here. If the teacher sees that he is motivated enough to take on the negotiations himself, and cares about what the teacher wants, he might see that he is capable of doing the work for the test.

By Simba (Simba) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 07:29 pm: Edit

Thanks. S says that he will take a shot, but is certain that nothing will come out of it. His snooping around revealed that the teacher is not known for his flexibility.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Monday, August 09, 2004 - 07:32 pm: Edit

Ouch! But he wouldn't have known if he didn't try. I'm encouraged for you Simba. He's already showing signs of transformation.

By Simba (Simba) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:38 pm: Edit

Northstarmom your method worked. S just called me and his 'negotiations' with his Stat teacher based on the suggestions on this board worked.

He will do self study in Satistics. The teacher's main concerns were if S could handle, and the fact that he himself had never done this before. He also didn't 'know' S. He listned, went and talked to other math teachers about S and things worked out.

And he did it all by himself !!

By Garland (Garland) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:43 pm: Edit

Congrats! What a great growth experience!

By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:45 pm: Edit

Thanks for the update! I am glad things worked out. Hooray for your son and his assertiveness! How he did it might make a nice college essay or story to tell his interviewers.

By Marite (Marite) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 01:49 pm: Edit


How wonderful! And what a boost to your S's self-confidence that he could initiate the negotiations and bring them to a successful conclusion. I can see him approaching the whole college experience with a great deal more confidence.

By Jenniferpa (Jenniferpa) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 02:00 pm: Edit

Simba, just to reassure you (if you need it): my daughter's stats class didn't do anything that could be described as labs or group work, and she got a 5 on the AP test.

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Tuesday, August 10, 2004 - 04:48 pm: Edit

Simba, Transformation, I think! Big kudos to him. A very adult thing to take control of the situation and make it work for his best interest. This is just the first of many things that will change the way you see your son this year.

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