Help! My Coworker Is My Kid’s Teacher and She’s Awful

The damage is done.

Two teachers sitting on a couch with one grading Fs and the other looking angry

This week, Ask WeAreTeachers takes on when your co-worker is your kid’s teacher, feeling unappreciated by students, and more.

My co-worker is my kid’s teacher, and she’s terrible.

As both a teacher in the building and a parent of a student, I do try really hard to keep a positive relationship with all the staff. I’ve always gotten along well with my kids’ teachers. Until this year. My daughter’s fourth-grade teacher is awful. She posts 50-page TPT packets daily and doesn’t even bother to take off the “to the teacher” section. I’ve heard her scream things like “I’m done with all of you” to the class. She told all the kids that I’m overreacting for keeping my immunocompromised daughter in online learning. Today, she emailed to say that my daughter is failing everything. I’ve sat with my daughter and watched her submit her assignments herself, and nothing gets graded. I know my kid is on grade level. What do I do now? The year is almost over.  Should I complain or suck it up and be glad we’ll be done  in a few weeks? —Mama Bear

Dear M.B.,

As a mother and former teacher, I sympathize. It’s so hard when you see bad practice negatively affecting your child. And you have an extra layer because this is someone you work with. I asked fellow mom and experienced principal Kela Small for her perspective. She said:

“At this point, the damage is done. If your child has been able to end the year on grade level despite having a less than effective teacher, count it as a win. Maybe provide some supportive feedback to the teacher on your thoughts as a parent from this year.


“But remember, this past year was hard for all of us, so be compassionate in your feedback. Continue to be vigilant about your child’s educational experience, and take advantage of your expertise as a teacher to continue to supplement her education.”

I worked really hard to do something special for my music students, and they’re completely ungrateful.

Since we can’t have in-person concerts, I recently had my students do a recording performance to send out to their families and friends. I spent hours going over the different takes, selected the best ones, and further edited to make this a pleasant thing to watch. In a normal school year, I have the students listen to their performances, and we have discussions on our strengths of the evening and skills that need improvement before our next performance; basically, reflect on their performance.  When I asked them to do the same thing with this video, the reaction I got from the students was overwhelmingly negative: “I don’t want to listen to myself play!” “What’s the point?” I’m very hurt. Should I address my students about how this makes me feel? —Feeling Unappreciated by My Own Students

Der F.U.B.M.O.S.,

It sucks when you don’t get the appreciation you were hoping for, especially when you’ve worked so hard. Unfortunately, it kind of comes with the territory when you’re a teacher. Friendly reminder that it’s not really the students’ job to give you pats on the back (although it sure is nice when they do!).

I spoke with first-grade teacher Tanya Jackson, who had a great idea. “Share the performance video with other teachers, administration, etc., and let students know. Knowing that other teachers or the principal will see their work can feel like a big deal to students and make it feel special.”

For their reflections, she suggested, “Try a different approach for having them reflect on the performance. If you’re virtual, you could have students view the video in partners or small groups in a breakout room. Students could share and reflect with each other that way.”

I have to share my retirement party with another teacher, and I’m annoyed.

After 25 years in education, I’m finally retiring! My lovely team asked my admin about having a retirement celebration for me. They said yes but that it would be a shared event with another teacher. I’ve taught at this school for eight years and helped open the campus as a new school. The other teacher has only been here for two years. She obviously deserves her celebration for her years in education as well, but it feels a little weird to share. I am the first teacher to retire at this campus, and I’ve been with my district since 2001. I also don’t care THAT much, but honestly, we don’t have joint baby or wedding showers. —Soon to Be Retiree

Dear S.T.B.R.,

I get it. I got to have my own baby and wedding shower at school. But all things considered, this seems like a pretty minor annoyance. In schools I’ve worked in, it wasn’t uncommon to have these kinds of celebrations together (it’s just that no one was pregnant or getting married at the same time I was). I mean, as teachers, sharing is kind of our jam.

I asked middle school teacher Caleb Willow, and he said to opt for grace. “Throughout your years of service, I am sure you’ve shared more than enough with other teachers, so why not end your career celebrating with this other retiree? Maybe they aren’t as well-liked or well-known, so the combination party is so that everybody gets acknowledged and the send-off is with as many people as possible?

“Leave education even better than you found it by being a team player. And let your ‘real’ party be the one you have with friends and family.”

My student doesn’t show up on time to online meetings, and the parents are blaming me.

I teach in a self-contained special education classroom, and a parent is on my case because I am not willing to be available at all times  to do Google Meets with their son.  He constantly shows up 30-45 minutes late to the meetings because he is doing other things besides schoolwork. I teach both in person and remote, so I can’t always pick up. Well, today, the parent decided to get upset because I emailed the student about his missing assignments, and I got a command of, “You need to help him catch up!!” When I didn’t reply, the parent decided to jump all the way to my superintendent and tell him what a crappy teacher I was. I am not staying after school because a student refuses to be on time for their meetings. Am I wrong? —Standing My Ground

Dear S.M.G.,

It’s definitely frustrating when a student doesn’t hold up their end, but given that he has an IEP (and this year calls for special considerations), you definitely have obligations. I decided to ask teacher Richard Kennedy, who taught special ed for five years, to find out just what those are.

Richard told me, “Documentation beats conversation every time. You definitely want to have a paper trail of where you’ve reached out and made attempts. Share this information with the chain of command. If the student has a record of chronic tardiness and you’ve already tried to get to the root of it, then you are within your rights to not accept a meeting, but make sure you have documentation to back it up.

“Parents have responsibilities as well when it comes to IEPs, and so does the student if they’ve reached the age where they are eligible for a transition plan. Services and eligibility can be suspended if the parent isn’t doing their due diligence.”

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A student refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, and it bothers me.

I’m a substitute, and I was recently in a seventh-grade math classroom. During first period, the principal came on over the intercom to lead the school in the Pledge of Allegiance. One of the kids in my class just sat during the pledge, and it really got under my skin, especially as the son of a veteran. Honestly, I’ve had enough of the lack of patriotism in this country. As educators, shouldn’t we be teaching what we are doing during the Pledge of Allegiance, what the words mean, who it remembers, and why it’s so important to appreciate our freedoms? I let it go, but my question is, if a student refuses to stand for Pledge of Allegiance, is that his right?

Help! My Coworker is My Kid's Teacher and She's Awful