Published On: Mon, Feb 11th, 2013

Damn! We Got The Teacher Who Yells!

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

Damn we got the teacher who yellsGot kids in primary school? Then I believe there is a good chance you are fully aware of the teachers at your school who have the yeller reputation.  At the beginning of each year many of us hold our breath and hope our kids don’t get that teacher, and when they do, we exhale, tell ourselves it’s not so bad, and expect our kids to do the same.

In 2011, I get a call from one of my friends Kate. Her child does not want to go to school. Well yes this is a common thing in many households and usually we can distract and know that once they get there, they will be just fine. Her son though was refusing to leave the house, and at the tender age of eight, announces to her that he wants to change schools. Why? His new teacher is a yeller.

Kate was already aware that the teacher her son had received had such a reputation, but like many other parents, told him that it’s just the way it was and to be strong. But one week of trying to be strong was enough for her son Matthew. After a Christmas holiday period worrying about who he would get, his fears had become real.

The yelling teacher you see, had been in the classroom next to Matthew the previous year, and he had often heard her yelling at the kids in her class. Kate was amazed at how stressed Matthew was and how determined not to go back to school he had become. She decided she would call the school and tell them her son would not be in until a meeting could take place. A meeting did take place, and included both principal and assistant principal.

She addressed her concerns about the teacher while explaining to them she was aware that Matthew would not be able to move classes due to their policy and even understood why this was in place. But if her son had to remain in that class she would have no option but to pull him out of the school, as she had little confidence in the teacher getting any better. Kate was then told to consider that it was not the teacher that was the problem, but that kids were being fed assumptions about the teacher from their parents. Kate told them that this was not how her family operates and she was disappointed to hear them suggest that was the case in her situation. She argued that she didn’t care if she liked the teacher or not, so long as her child was happy and obviously he wasn’t. At no time was there any recognition from the school that this teacher yelled at the children, instead, comments such as “she’s trying so hard” and “we should be looking at the big picture” were peppered throughout the meeting. She left that meeting, knowing, confirming, what she had to do for her son.

I asked Kate what she would say to parents and teachers that would be quick to remind her that children need to learn that we sometimes have to deal with all kinds of people, even ones we don’t particularly like. Kate agrees, but feels it is unfair to ask her child at the age of eight to be fighting an internal battle five days a week six hours a day.

For me it’s simple. A new culture needs to develop where yelling at kids is not acceptable teacher behaviour. I believe along with that first aid certificate, teachers should also have to attend a behaviour management workshop where they would learn that yelling is not an acceptable form of discipline. How teachers are able to get away with this kind of behaviour is difficult for me to understand. As an early childhood teacher, yelling at my preschoolers would land me in hot water and rightly so. If we can change the culture of caning in schools, surely we can do this with yelling. I understand that even the best of teachers can have a bad day, but these are professionals, and not just any professionals, professionals who are trained to work with children.

I believe that if children are experiencing fear in the classroom for whatever reason, something is wrong. Yelling at kids creates fear, and through yelling it is hoped the fear will keep them in line. The problem here is, fear is not a great teacher. We want our kids to be inspired to learn, not made to do so because they are fearful.

Kate feels that if you experience an isolated incident, you should go and chat to the teacher about it, but if the yelling is happening often and you feel your child is being affected, go and see the principal. She feels it comes down to the principal as to the reaction you would receive. She feels that the response from her now new principal would be very different to the one she received at her old school.

I asked Kate what she thought should of happened to the yelling teacher. Her reply was one I didn’t expect. “Nothing. Because parents don’t seem to care enough. You need much more than one parent jumping up and down, and unfortunately, I was the only one jumping while all the other parents stood on the sidelines and simply cheered me on”.

Kate still sees some of the parents from her sons old school, and still she hears them complain and take no action. She understands their dilema. Changing schools was hard, really hard, but she knows she would do it all again if she had to.

Kate and Matthew 2013

Danielle Mantakoul
Mummy Weekly Copyright 2012
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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