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Moms Talk: How Can Parents Vet Claims About Unruly Students?

Each week, we ask St. Louisans to weigh in on a discussion about parenting.

This week, we're asking St. Louis parents to weigh in on the issues of student self-discipline and teacher control.

Suppose you get a call from your son's fourth-grade teacher. The teacher reports that your son has talked back on more than one occasion and is getting rather unruly. At the same time, an earlier meeting has left you with doubts about the teacher's ability to control and lead the class.

So onto this week's question: What do you do? Take sides? Ignore the call?

Martha Baur September 28, 2011 at 12:32 PM
In our house the general rule is that the teacher is always right. Common sense tells me though that not all teachers are going to be great. Regardless, talking back to any adult is not acceptable even if it is a teacher who might not have control of the class. I try not to be a helicopter mom, but there are times when issues need to be addressed. If I felt that behaviors in the class were interrupting learning, I would set up an appointment with the teacher. If things didn't change, I would definitely meet with the principal. I know kids want to have fun, but there is a fine line between having fun and disrupting important education. And of course, continuously misbehaving and being rude to a teacher have consequences, which my girls know. Setting expectations at home with consistency and follow through enables children to easily recognize behaviors that are not acceptable.
Laura Falk September 28, 2011 at 01:01 PM
I come down on the side of the teacher here. As Martha said, the teacher's skill level shouldn't impact whether my child is being respectful. When I was a kid back in the Dark Ages, there was never any question about taking sides - the teacher was always right. It's fascinating to me how far the other way the pendulum has swung.
Cole Kelley September 28, 2011 at 01:35 PM
I have been in this position before. I try to gather facts first and then set up a time to speak with the teacher. I have always backed the teacher up in front of my child so that she does not think that she can "divide and conquer" in any way. On occasion I have had my daughter apologize to her teacher in my presence. I believe that children learn respect at home. If they are not taught that it will carry over into the classroom. If only one child is being disrespectful it will end if the other students do not follow. Like everything it begins at home.

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