What constitutes a bad teacher? Should he/she be fired?

For years I volunteered up to or more than three times a week in my children’s elementary school. I volunteered in each child’s class so I would be aware of what they were being taught since they attended a French Immersion school.

When the eldest was in kindergarten, her teacher noted she had problems pronouncing certain letters of the alphabet and would benefit from speech therapy. We were to close so we didn’t notice the problem; the eldest was given speech therapy while in school. Middle child did not pick up the speech impediment, but the teenage boy did and by that time, the waiting list for speech therapy was well over a year-long. We were lucky that I was working part-time so my income went to pay for a private speech therapist. Middle child was having other difficulties which we blamed on learning two languages so she was given extra help in the Learning Resource centre.

By the time Middle child was in grade six, she was still going to the Learning Resource centre for assistance, but now there were other problems. She was coming home from school and telling us that her teacher was not giving her any work to complete, so all she was doing in the resource room was helping in the younger kids with their work. Writing this part just makes me cry, even though it has been years since it occurred. I met with her teacher, who denied this and said my child was lying, but middle child continued to complain about not be given any work and now she was hating going to school.

Since I volunteered at the school in both the classroom and was an active Parent Council member, I was on very good terms with the Principal. I discussed this matter with her and it was decided a meeting with the teacher, the learning resource teacher, and a board representative was necessary. During the meeting I continually asked the teacher what work she was giving middle child and was it true, that in fact she was not giving her any assignments at all? (Not a peep was heard from the Learning Resource teacher during this time). The Principal asked the teacher to produce the assignments she was supposedly giving middle child. It was then that the teacher admitted, “No, I haven’t been giving her any assignments to do in the Learning Resource Centre”. Assignments middle child needed if she wanted to be graded on and receive a mark on her report card. There were no marks to be had though. At this point, the Principal immediately stood up, and ended the meeting. I had won a first of many battles for middle child!

Result: middle child was sent home with umpteen number of assignments to complete, but as far as I know, there was no punishment given to the teacher and since she was the only grade six teacher, middle child remained in her class. After grade six, we pulled middle child out of French Immersion and enrolled her in an English school. Her grade seven teacher was beyond marvelous! We met with him, explaining the issues and how we were putting her in an out of school program to bring her up to grade level (she was two levels behind). Middle child hated reading and writing. Again, it was lucky I worked part-time, because when we enrolled her in a private program to bring her reading up to grade level, it literally cost a fortune. She hated going, but once she got there, the teachers were fabulous at making reading fun, teaching her how to correctly pronounce words, spell and write stories. It took over six months, but the extra work paid off, middle child was reading and writing at a grade level above her class and now enjoyed the work.

(Note: Middle child had been on the waiting list for years for a reading and writing assessment through the school board. It wasn’t until grade ten, that we borrowed money to have an assessment done, since the assessment through the school board wasn’t going to happen for a very long time. The assessment was necessary for her to continue to receive extra help through the high school and it would also be necessary for when she applied to University. The private assessment, by a licensed Psychologist, was pages and pages long, outlined her learning disabilities, one being dyslexia.) No wonder she hated reading and writing!

Questions still remain:

Why wasn’t the teacher disciplined or if she/he was, why wasn’t I, the parent informed?
Why wasn’t this teacher fired for incompetence?
Why didn’t the Learning Resource teacher ask why student wasn’t being given work to do?
Why are assessments for Learning Disability such a low priority in our Education System?

There are good teachers and there are bad teachers, just like in any profession, good and bad employees. Rarely do you hear of a teacher being fired for incompetence and I believe in some circumstances, they should be, just like in any other job, incompetence should not be tolerated. Retraining, I agree with this, but in the case I have described where the teacher just didn’t bother to give middle child assignments, the teacher should have been fired. How many other students has this happened to and will happen to?

He’s not the first and won’t be the last

He is attending the university in our hometown, she is attending a university in another province, a good twelve hours away. He is now regretting not researching universities further, though the three he applied to offered him scholarships but they were still not close to her. During the week life isn’t so bad for him, he is kept busy with classes but the weekends are difficult, sadness creeps in like a flood. They Skype daily for hours but it isn’t enough. He talks to me about applying to the university she goes to (his sister is also there). I explain, changing universities just for a girl is not really a good idea. He gives me other reasons, like smaller classes (he hates being in a class of 500) and this university has less than 2500 students. He also says he will be in a French environment which will be better for his French language skills.

He is 18 years old, so really I can’t stop him from applying, I tell him he must get 80% in all his classes, and if they break up, he cannot switch universities for that reason. What would you do?


I recently read a post titled “Child Receives ‘Catastrophe’ Award” on the Yummy Mummy Club website. This article saddened me. Why? Because this is where bullying begins – with adults. A child was given an award from her Teacher labelled as ‘Catastrophe’ which she defined as missing or uncompleted assignments. Now when I looked up ‘Catastrophe’ in the dictionary, “missing or uncompleted assignments” did not appear, instead “an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering” did. So tell me, did the Teacher in question have any idea what she was really doing? Even if the child in question had missing or uncompleted assignments did this really cause great and sudden damage or suffering and if so, why didn’t the Teacher contact the parents?

Of my three children, middle child has been subjected to bullying on more than one occasion. When in grade three, she had a morning teacher and an afternoon teacher. Her afternoon teacher absolutely loved her, could never say enough positive things about her. Whereas her morning teacher hated her. I don’t use the word hate lightly, but she hated her. When I went to speak with the teacher about the differences between the two of them, she moved so close to my face that she was only maybe an inch or two away from me, and then proceeded to yell. When she finally had to catch her breath, I spoke loudly and firmly saying if she spoke to my daughter the way she was speaking to me, no wonder my daughter did not respect her. I understand teacher’s can lose their temper and they do not have to like the children they teach but they do have to show respect.

In grade six, the bullying came from two girls and the teacher at the time was of no use. On numerous occasions my daughter would leave school crying and would explain that the teacher did nothing to stop the bullying when told of it. I tried speaking directly with her but she just brushed it off as kids being kids. Oh my goodness, I was speechless, my daughter was a mess in grade six. Thus I took the next step and spoke with the Principal, (who knew me quite well from my years of volunteering in all of my kids classes), and took immediate action by speaking with the teacher. Sadly this had to happen more than once. Eventually parents were called because of the bullying.

For grade seven and eight, middle child was sent to another school for two reasons, one being the bullying. The new school had a few problem students, and my daughter who was friends with everyone was an easy target. She would never take sides, always wanting to be a mediator. One day, while walking home from school with other students, one young boy decided it would be fun to throw rocks at them. One rock hit my daughter directly in the face.

Damage to middle child's face

A doctor’s visit, then x-rays and relief that there was no permanent damage. The police were called and an incident report was filed (apparently this was not the first one for the young boy). I also felt it important to contact the Principal even though the episode happened off of school property. The Principal was appalled and felt some sort of punishment should be given. We both agreed that suspension was not appropriate since this child’s parents would not care and the young boy would just have fun being off school, thus he would remain in school with punishment.

Above are three different examples of bullying but where does it start? I believe it starts with adults, if we do not show our kids how to treat others they will grow up just repeating the bad behaviours. Was the teacher who gave an inappropriate award a child bully? Was the teacher who said kids will be kids bullied herself? Lastly, the little boy who threw the rock has parents who really don’t care what he did, will he continue his bad behaviour or can he be saved by the school system?

Adults can be role models, let us begin this journey now.

Note: Middle child, along with the eldest and teenage boy have had lots of wonderful teachers over the years.