Ask Angel – My Unfair Teacher

One of my teachers doesn’t like me and it’s affecting my grades. The teacher barely acknowledges me in class and is always in a bad mood when I try to speak/ask questions. My teacher will happily answer the same questions from a different student tho. I don’t know what to do and I think I deserve better marks for the work I am handing in, but I always get roughly the same grade no matter what. How do I get them to acknowledge my concerns without sounding like a brat?

– not a teacher’s pet

Hello, not a teacher’s pet, 

It is easy to feel targeted or feel a bias towards you. If you think it is truly getting in the way of your learning or success within the classroom, then it would be worthwhile to talk to your teacher. Before talking about it with your teacher, try to reflect on your behaviours in the class and identify any things you may do or say that could be interpreted as rude or disrespectful by the teacher. While it can be difficult to admit our own faults, this is an important step. Once you’ve recognized the things that you could do differently in class, think of a way to potentially change these behaviours to ensure that the respect between you and your teacher can be mutual. 

After you’ve reflected upon yourself, take some time to think of examples where you feel mistreated in the classroom and write them down. Be sure not to use expressive language or harsh terms directed at the teacher. Keep the list as neutral and fact-based as possible. Once you have constructed your list, run it past a friend (possibly from the class in question) or an adult like a parent. Once your examples and reasonings have been peer edited, you will be prepared to chat with your teacher. 

When you feel ready to talk to your teacher, ask them to sit down with you for a discussion. When the two of you are conversing, be sure not to let your emotions get the best of you. While this is easier said than done, you can do a few things to be certain that you won’t get too emotional during the conversation. Try to take deep breaths before and during your conversation, so you don’t find yourself short of breath and unable to express your opinions fluidly and in full. Next, while you have a list prepared, make sure you know exactly or roughly what you want to say, and in the order that you hope to say it. This will guarantee that you don’t scramble your points or accidentally skip over something important. Lastly, make sure that you have enough time scheduled to get all of your points out and have a discussion with your teacher. If you are rushed, then you won’t be able to articulate your thoughts and opinions properly. 

When the time comes to speak to your teacher, you must be conscious of your language so that your teacher does not feel personally attacked. Rather than using language that suggests that the issue is always apparent and everything that they do is wrong (e.g. “you always ignore my question” or “you make me feel”), try using language that suggests it is less of a problem and more of a concern (eg “sometimes I feel as though”). Even though it may be hard, try to speak in a calm tone, so the teacher won’t interpret what you are saying as aggressive or argumentative. You should also try to keep a smile on your face during and after the conversation, as, even through the mask, a positive attitude will go a long way in a classroom setting. In terms of your grades being lower than you feel is deserved, be sure to have specific examples of the work you feel was not graded properly, and make sure you ask questions like “would you mind running me through this and explaining how I could have improved,” rather than “I deserve this grade for this, this, and this.” 

At the end of the day, teachers want what is best for the students, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. If you have a mature and civil conversation with your teacher where you express your concerns in an orderly and respectful manner, then the two of you together can come up with solutions to better both of your academic experiences. 

Best of Luck, 

Angel