Mean teacher or loving educator???
September 19, 2008 6:45 AM   Subscribe

Is there a term for this? A high school honors teacher is being unreasonably hard on my daughter.....

Overall a good student, the teacher (also the football coach) smokes and jokes with the boys in the class but, really comes down on the female students. According to the dean of students, he's only hard on her because he knows she's a good student.

It seems as though they always fall back on some old "cliche?" He only does that because he thinks she has potential. If she's taking 11th grade chemistry for her 10th grade honors class, isn't she already living up to her potential?

For the record, she does very well in school, gets along socailly with her peers in class and extra-cirricular activities. It just seems like there is always some asshole who says " I treat you this way becuase I like you" or something like that.

Is there a name for this behaviour? can I relay that to the coach that he is using the exact opposite technique than what her mother and I have used to help her get this far?
posted by winks007 to Human Relations (48 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
How is he hard on her? It's possible he's doing it because he sees potential, it's possible he's just a dick.
posted by Anonymous at 6:48 AM on September 19, 2008

I'm sorry, but it's impossible to tell whether he's being unreasonable based on your post.

He could be unfair, or your daughter could be too sensitive to constructive criticism.

Can you give one or two examples of him at his worst?
posted by BobbyVan at 6:56 AM on September 19, 2008

Far be it from me to suggest how to raise your kids, but I think that it can be just as useful of a life lesson to learn how to deal with unfavorable situations in school and the workplace - perhaps even moreso for a female in the hard sciences.

Have you tried talking to him yet?
posted by kcm at 6:56 AM on September 19, 2008

Probably two forces at play here. You're her mum, and the guy's a jerk.
posted by mattoxic at 6:57 AM on September 19, 2008

Is there a name for this behaviour?

I believe the term is called coaching. No matter what your level, a good coach is supposed to make you work harder. I've had good coaches and bad coaches, but pretty much they all wanted the same thing out of me: to make me work harder.

If she's taking 11th grade chemistry for her 10th grade honors class, isn't she already living up to her potential?

That depends on what her potential is.

He could be unfair, or your daughter could be too sensitive to constructive criticism.

And maybe you are not getting a fully unbiased story from your daughter.
posted by three blind mice at 7:06 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Have you had a conversation with this teacher directly?
posted by mkultra at 7:13 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: More from the poster:

I spoke to the dean of students this morning and asked for an appointment to meet with the teach and the dean. That will happen today.

If anyone has kids in public school, did you ever feel like no matter what reason you went to the school to complain about a policy or procedure or teacher, you're always made to feel like you are the one wrong?

For whatever reason, the teacher told her " you can call you daddy and I will tell him and you to leave the classroon." I told the dean that the teacher shouldn't be talking smack about the parents to the students, and he said "oh don't worry he will talk to you too!

Example. He allowed a football player to walk out of the class with her purse. We have always taught her to stand up for herself and when she tried to leave the class to get her purse from the student, the coach said "I didn't see anything (jokingly). When she stood up for herself, she ended up with a lunch detention.

BTW...I'm the DAD.
BTW....It's a public school

I was thinking he had a problem with women? He also seem to like getting inthe face of females and not the guys in class.

I'll bet dollars to donuts, he won't get in my face and talk to me like he told the class (in front of all the other students) he would.
posted by winks007 at 7:24 AM on September 19, 2008

he sounds like a misogynist jerk, I wish I had a real solution for you and your daughter other than finding out if there is anyone else she can take the class from.
posted by estronaut at 7:29 AM on September 19, 2008

He might be an asshole or a sexist or just a bad teacher. I have no idea. (And there really isn't much in this post to go on. Examples would help.)

But just about everyone has had a jerk teacher or a bad teacher -- or several -- at some point in school. And those of us with "potential" turned out fine and graduated with honors. It's part of growing up.

And part of growing up is also realizing that not everyone is going to be impressed by you off the bat. I think it can be a considerable blow for most smart kids when they get to college or their first job and discover that people don't find them special anymore. (I personally wasn't prepared to go from honor-scholarship student to receptionist; I wish I had learned this lesson when I was much younger.)

If this teacher is being genuinely unfair, or has an obvious sexist double standard, or causing your daughter so much distress that going to the class upsets her or she is unable to manage a decent grade, then it would be time to raise a fuss. Talk to the parents of her female friends in that class and see if they're experiencing similar things.

But if he's just being harder on her than she's used to, and not unreasonable or unfair, consider it a growing experience for your daughter.

To answer your more specific question, the term might be "tough love." Or "Professor Snape."
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:29 AM on September 19, 2008

If anyone has kids in public school, did you ever feel like no matter what reason you went to the school to complain about a policy or procedure or teacher, you're always made to feel like you are the one wrong?

No, but I don't go to the school to complain very much, if ever. I can count on one hand the times I've been to my kid's school to complain in the 8 years she's been attending public school, and those were for some really big issues.

Are you there so often that the principal hides out in her/his office when they see you coming? Teachers and administrators are people with feelings too. If you only ever complain, then you get branded as a complainer, and even when you go in with a legitimate complaint, you might not get the sympathetic ear you're hoping for.

As for your daughter's issue with this teacher, I would definitely speak up if I were you. His behavior sounds unacceptable from the limited info you've given. But talk to him first, and get his side. He just may be a clueless goof who thinks he's doing your daughter a favor by being tough on her, when he's really doing her a favor by demonstrating how assholes act, so she can recognize that in the future.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:40 AM on September 19, 2008

Been there several times. Roughly one out of five times, the instructor turned out to be the good kind of hardass and the situation ended in mutual respect; the other four, they were just assholes. If she's taking his class a year ahead of schedule, he might also be having a bit of an: "Oh, so you think you're so smart, but I know better!" response.

Unless the guy is truly out there, your best bet is to lay low and ride it out. If there are any parent-teacher meetings coming up, consider having a very diplomatic conversation with the teacher. ("My daughter just loves your class, but she is worried she isn't doing well.") In the best case, it might make him reconsider his attitude; in the worst case, he'll learn the parents are paying attention, which should restrain him a little. If the problems continue, there will always be time to antagonize him later.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:40 AM on September 19, 2008

On lack of preview, he's an asshole. Basic principle remains the same: initial polite overtures followed by the big guns if necessary.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:44 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: I find him to be a bully. That covers what, 98% of coach/teachers?

He only bullies the girls.

But then to disparage her over what her dad may/may not say in front of the class it utterly and completly tactless. You know when I meet with him it will be behind closed doors.

WE let her take her lumps and the class is not that difficult, he's treats her like an ass and she recognizes this fact.

She has denied me the right to intervene since he's also the softball coach and she will most likley be on the softball team.

Whne she explained all this to me yesterdy, I replied with: great here you are telling me about another problem that you do not wish for me to take any action on and this time she said, no, I want to you help fix this.

She can't drop the class, it's an AP class and they are on block instruction, she has this class for 1/2 the school year and it's a pre-requisite for a class she wants to take for the 2nd semister.

This is not about criticism of her or her work, It's the disparity of the situation that makes me sick.

Maybe I should have posited this to only those with teenagers in public school?

Thnaks for all you guys' help.
posted by winks007 at 7:50 AM on September 19, 2008

If the teacher talks smack to you, without hesitation bring it to the Superintendent and Board of Education.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:55 AM on September 19, 2008

He allowed another student to take your daughter's property? And then punished her for (rightfully) trying to retrieve her property? That's completely unacceptable. I'm not sure what you should do, because she's always going to have people like that in her life, peripherally or otherwise, and learning how to deal with them is a valuable life skill. On the other hand, is she really getting a quality education from this teacher? It's hard to say.

As for this question: did you ever feel like no matter what reason you went to the school to complain about a policy or procedure or teacher, you're always made to feel like you are the one wrong? Yes, I do feel that way, but only since our previously fantastic principal left and we got a drill sergeant in return. I only ever have issues with my son (who has several developmental difficulties), not my daughter, and I feel like the principal only cares about the bureaucracy and not necessarily the kids.
posted by cooker girl at 7:57 AM on September 19, 2008

I actually had that problem with a teacher, except that it wasn't that he bullies the girls, but rather just me. He hated me because he hated my sister (long story) and since she had already graduated he took it out on me. Unlike you, my parents thought I was being a wuss and exaggerating in regards to the type of stuff he did and it wasn't until a patient of my mother told her while they were succumbing to anesthetic that this teacher hated me that they took notice. What finally happened was my parents having a meeting with him and the principal. It was a bit better from then on out, never 100%, but at least I got through the term. (Ironically, he went on 'sabbatical' soon after due to some events involving theft of large amounts of groceries....)

I guess all I can say, since I have been there, is to be very prepared for the fact that talking to him/the school/the principal may very likely have little to no effect. He sounds like a real kick in the pants, and I would guess reasonable rational discussion would have much impact on him. This is a tough lesson your daughter is learning (ie. how to deal with irrational assholes) but it is, as you know, something everyone has to deal with at many times in their life so learning how to manage it early is good, I suppose. I wish your daughter luck though. Having gone through it, I know how unendingly frustrating it is.
posted by gwenlister at 8:02 AM on September 19, 2008

The pocketbook thing was way out of line.

That guy would be whining for his job back by the time I got through with him. That is totally unacceptable.
posted by konolia at 8:02 AM on September 19, 2008

Oh-and you are a good dad. Wanted to throw that out there.
posted by konolia at 8:03 AM on September 19, 2008

This is a good time for your daughter to learn one of the unfortunately necessary skills of the working world: document, document, document. Your examples sound vague, possibly because her examples to you are vague, and it's going to be really hard to make the principal or teacher take that seriously.

When something happens, she should discretely make herself a brief note: 9/19 10:15am purse. Later, she should write up the incident as objectively as possible. If you want, have her email them to you so there's a time/date stamp. The two of you can talk about it first, determine what the actionable issue is (or if this is a battle better left unchosen), and then take that documentation to the principal if you determine that you have something concrete to take to him. The formality, if nothing else, should alert the administration that this is being taken seriously at home and might come back to bite them later. (Particularly in the case of allowing a theft to occur, which is probably not an opportunity you'll get again.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:10 AM on September 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

I didn't see your last comment before mine. It does sound like he might be crossing a line here. In that case, I still think your best action is to talk to the other parents with female students in the class and see if you can all complain en masse. The more parents there are that are outraged at this teacher and take action, the more likely something will be done about him.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:13 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think I had this teacher.

The "pushing you harder because you have more potential thing" I have experienced quite a bit. It can be inspiring or just dickheaded, depending on the circumstances.

But the favoring the boys (whom he coaches?) and the purse thing are inappropriate and out of line. It's also good to let the administration know because if he is treating your daughter this way, there may be others.
posted by pointystick at 8:17 AM on September 19, 2008

I'll bet dollars to donuts, he won't get in my face and talk to me like he told the class (in front of all the other students) he would.

It sounds like you're (understandably) frustrated and angry at this teacher, because you feel like he's been bullying your daughter. I think your meeting today will be much more effective if you recognize how frustrated you are, and realize that coming in with with an angry attitude just makes it easier for them to dismiss your concerns. You've got to pull it together for your daughter's sake, and find a way to be very dispassionate, organized, and methodical when dealing with the teacher and the principal. This is far more likely to create the sort of change you're looking for.

You should sit down with your daughter (if that's still possible for today), and write out in the most detailed way possible the concrete actions this guy has taken that you think are unfair or done more harshly for girls in the class. Date each incident as best you can, and try to keep any judgment out of it--if these really are egregious (or there's enough of them), it should be clear with absolutely NO editorializing from you that there's a bad pattern here. If your daughter is in school, try to write it out yourself from what she's told you.

If you go into the meeting armed with this documentation, you can then ask to go over each incident and ask why he took that action, and whether that is consistent with school policy. (For example: "Last Tuesday, student X took my daughter's purse from her and walked out of the classroom. When she followed him to retrieve her belongings, you gave her detention. Were you aware that someone had taken her purse? Is it school policy to give detention to students in that situation? What is it that you think my daughter should have done?' and "You said X to my daughter about me in front of the class. Can you explain why you said that?") Keep your cool, and just keep moving down the list. At the end, if he hasn't explained them to your satisfaction--and keep an open mind, because it's possible there's an explanation here that you're just not seeing yet--then you can say something like, "I think this demonstrates a clear pattern of treating my daughter more harshly than the male athletes in his class. I'm not happy with the explanations I've been given here, and I think more needs to be done to address this disparity and make sure it doesn't keep happening." Maybe you can suggest the principal randomly sit in on a few of his classes to observe whether girls are treated more harshly. Or maybe you just want him to promise that he won't belittle your daughter in front of the classroom, since that's not something he does to boys. Think of what you want to happen to fix this, and insist that if they are not willing to do that thing, then they'll find something all three of you can agree on as mutually acceptable.

I think if you do this, one of two situations will happen:

(1) You might realize that this guy isn't a jerk, and there's a part of the story your daughter is leaving out that makes a difference. This can all be resolved amicably by your daughter and this teacher making some adjustments to work together better.

(2) This guy is a big jerk, but is used to getting out of it because he's buddy-buddy with the principal and the principal deals with so many irrational parents that he's used to blowing off people who complain. The fact that you're calm, collected and documenting the behavior you have a problem with wakes up the principal to what is going on, and he cracks down on the teacher.
posted by iminurmefi at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2008 [6 favorites]

Regardless of the outcome of your meeting with him... send your daughter to school with a tape recorder that she can hide in her purse or in a jacket (video would be better but harder to conceal)... have her record her classes... those micro-cassettes and recorders are cheap, and if nothing happens, she can keep using the same tape over and over... but if something DOES happen, she has evidence! you can then present it to the proper authorities... with evidence, something is much more likely to get done on her behalf. BTW I am a dad, too, although my son is not school age yet....
posted by senorpuma at 8:18 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: Konolia, Thanks for the compliment!

Don't thank my wife and I, we really didn't do anything special to get the awesome kids that have. They're smart, stron and they have a great moral compass. They are encouraged to make good choices and they do.

They constantly make me re-think my views on "luck."

We're rich, truct me, we may not have alot of cash on hand but, we're filthy stinking rich where it matters most.

For the record, 1st time arranging a meeting with the cadre sine she started there last year in 9th grade.

I have never felt so wrong after meeting with the people who's salary is paid by peeps like us.

Thanks again,
posted by winks007 at 8:20 AM on September 19, 2008

The problem with "get the other parents involved" is that sexism is so ingrained in our culture that a lot of the other parents may see no problem with his behavior, no matter how unfair and sexist it is. And then it turns into "we love our football coach, and this humorless feminist girl needs to cut him some slack."

He smokes with the guys? Really? That's flat-out illegal if any of them are under 18 (presuming you live in the US). Not a huge deal, but if the school is fine with turning a blind eye to that, that might be indicative of how "not upsetting the football coach" may be more important to them than "looking out for the best interest of the students."
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:20 AM on September 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: sidhedevil, that may be hyperbole on my part. Old Army term "smoking and joking".

Correction: there is no smoking going on. You know what I mean.
posted by winks007 at 8:25 AM on September 19, 2008

She has denied me the right to intervene since he's also the softball coach and she will most likley be on the softball team.

This is a little weird to me. The teacher/coach is clearly an asshole, but she doesn't want you to intervene in the class situation (where the standards of teacher conduct are higher) because she wants to play on his softball team (where the standards of coach conduct are much lower)? If he is bullying your daughter in a teacher role, he's not going to turn around and be a great guy in the coach role.

If you both think speaking up too loudly is going to anger the teacher into punishing your daughter by giving her a poor grade (which is entirely possible), she should just keep her down, tough it out and avoid interacting with him ever again after that class is over. But avoiding doing something because she's worried about repercussions in a future, non-academic activity doesn't make a lot of sense, IMHO.
posted by Nelsormensch at 8:35 AM on September 19, 2008

Before you go further, I suggest that your daughter and the other female students in this class get together to talk over how he is treating them.
posted by Carol Anne at 8:39 AM on September 19, 2008

Oh, but I was your daughter in high school. And yes, there is a word for this guy. That word is asshole.

I had teachers who truly rode my back because they truly wanted to see me live up to my potential. They were unrepentant hard-asses who made my life a living hell. And they always, always treated me with the utmost respect. I worked incredibly hard for them, and have fantastic memories of learning from them.

And then there were the assholes who used "I treat you this way because I like you" as an excuse to pick on the students they don't like. Sometimes they disliked the smart women, sometimes they disliked the unpopular kids, sometimes they just had a single target. And the crowd of kids who these teachers like will raise hell to defend them, because they're buddies, and decry the students like your daughter as humorless hags who refuse to get the joke. Sadly, it's easier for the administration to go along with the defenders.

So please, raise hell on behalf of your daughter. Especially if the situation is bad enough that she's asking for your help. Do as Lyn Never suggests, and document, document, document. Go back again and again if that's what it takes. When the teacher sees that documentation, he'll tread more carefully. And surely, with a caring dad like you, she'll be taking chemistry and playing softball and learning how to enjoy herself an do what she likes in spite of anyone who tries to stand in her way.

(And on preview, everything iminurmefi said).
posted by amelioration at 8:45 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also? "I pick on you because I like you?" Aren't dudes supposed to get over this by the time they're, oh, 18 or so? I mean, is he trying to teach your daughter, or sleep with her?
posted by amelioration at 8:51 AM on September 19, 2008

Obtaining results in these situations requires finding a pressure point which will induce the person to act despite the fact that the person does not want to act. That means making the consequences more difficult than the act that the person does not want to take.

Here's the plan. In the meeting, go nice on the dean for the first three minutes. Tell him you are certain that he would agree that there is no place in the school for bullying, by either a teacher or a student. He will agree to that.

After he agrees to that, turn up the heat. Explain that you are concerned that the teacher's actions are causing your child to have difficulty in school and might cause a problem. Explain that the teacher ordered another student to take your daughter's personal property out of the room. Explain to him that this is completely unacceptable. If he protests, ask him if he would allow his daughter to be treated like that. Tell him that if the bullying does not stop, you will ask for an evaluation and an Individualized Education Program for your daughter. (this is a legal process which can be a huge headache for the school). Explain that you are certain that the dean understands that if this is not taken care of immediately, you will begin the process to get an IEP and press the school district on every front. Furthermore, explain that you consider the teacher's behavior to be sexual harassment and that you are not sure what drives the teacher to act that way but that you expect it will stop immediately or there will be consequences.

Next, tell him that you want the offending teacher brought before the two of you immediately, and told, before both of you, that (1) he will no longer treat your daughter with anything but respect from here on out and (2) if your daughter does try out for the softball team, you expect that she will not face reprisal for your actions.

Finally, explain to your daughter that bullies are weak people who must be confronted or they will not stop. This is a learning lesson for your daughter.

Write all of this down so you know what to say.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:01 AM on September 19, 2008 [4 favorites]

Oh and get the names of everyone on the school board. Draft a very, very tough letter to the school board and the district superintendent have it printed out and ready to go, including envelope. Show the letter and the envelope to the dean.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:03 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Everybody stop trying to guess whether a- the coach is an asshole or b- the dad is overreacting. OP wants to know how to deal with the situation. I am a coach in a community sports program. Yes, the administration will take the coach's side. First thing I'd ask is whether your daughter even wants you to intervene-- maybe she just wants to vent about this, but is in fact dealing with the situation. So make sure you really need to intervene, first. Might be too late for this, but I would suggest you meet first with the teacher, then if he won't resolve it go to the administration WITHOUT the teacher/coach. (btw, if the teacher/coach then retaliates against your daughter, it's "a"-- the coach is an asshole). Meeting with the coach and the admin at the same time is asking them to gang up on you. Go into all meetings with written notes and verbatim transcripts of specific incidents, especially if you can get them confirmed by a third party. Have a specific, short-term outcome in mind, a general long-term outcome in mind, and stay on message. Do not get defensive.

I do agree with one comment upthread-- sometimes it's just as valuable for a kid to learn how to deal with jackasses. If the teacher's behavior is not affecting her grade, it's possible you'll have to let this one go.
posted by nax at 9:23 AM on September 19, 2008

This guy is getting close to harrassment territory, singling your daughter out in front of the class and making semi threatening statements to her ("kicking her and you out of his class"). He sounds like a WORLD CLASS asshole and his fratty, coach-y demeanor only solidifies that impression. I know all too well exactly what sort of personality you're dealing with and he is not going to like being questioned, esp. because deep down he probably knows he's being an asshole to your daughter. I'd test him on some general gender based discrimination issues in front of the dean... try to illicit some sort of crazy statements along the lines of he thinks Title IX is unfair, he thinks girls underperform generally... I'm guessing it shouldn't be too hard. What's really unfortunate is that you're going to have to get the administration to see that this guy's an ass and they're not inclined to do so. And in the meantime, your daughter is going to have it REALLY rough in his class. And your complaining and making it an issue will only make it worse. It's great that she can grow up knowing that she shouldn't have to put up with this b.s. (wish I knew it sooner) but honestly, the real lesson is in knowing that these guys are everywhere - maybe even one day her boss - and knowing how to stay strong and suck it up when you need to may carry her farther. But good for you for having her back.
posted by smallstatic at 9:35 AM on September 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, this is public school. It may be an AP class but that doesn't mean this guy is any "academic", trust me.
posted by smallstatic at 9:35 AM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: Nax, I'm a little league coach and a girls 18 and under softball coach. I don't have anyone automacially taking my side of anything!

Why will the school automatically take the coaches side? Is my side not valid?

So let me get this straight. The coach gets carte blanch and we get screwed.

Also....she usually handles things like this on her own as she was taught.

She specifically requested that I help her on this and this is exactly what I will do.

She can handle her own with run-of-the-mill assholes, She encounters them on a daily basis.

This is an extraordinary case involving a school administrator.
posted by winks007 at 10:02 AM on September 19, 2008

Just wanted to second iminurmefi's suggestion above of going into the situation with a cool head. When someone gets visibly upset or angry, it is easy to dismiss their complaints as over-the-top even if they're completely valid.
posted by shinynewnick at 10:25 AM on September 19, 2008

This is called harassment.

If this meeting doesn't produce a 100% acknowledgement of the problem and a promise by the teacher to change the behavior, get a lawyer.

You can't let people mess with your kids.
posted by ewkpates at 10:35 AM on September 19, 2008

Why will the school automatically take the coaches side? Is my side not valid?

It doesn't matter how valid your complaints are.

In many situations, dysfunctional organizations close ranks against people who are bringing up totally valid concerns.

This happens pretty frequently in public schools, like with this kid, who got a world of shit heaped on him because he had the temerity to expose his teacher's inappropriate preaching religion during class time.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:49 AM on September 19, 2008

Best answer: Why will the school automatically take the coaches side? Is my side not valid?

I don't think it's just dysfunctional schools that will tend to side with teachers or coaches. I think the thing you need to keep in mind is that even though you may be absolutely right, and your daughter totally blameless, and this particular teacher completely at fault--the principal doesn't necessarily have any way to differentiate you from a crazy parent with irrational complaints who would kick and scream about their kid getting a grade they deserved. The teacher or coach is at least a known quantity, and you (rightly or wrongly) have the burden of proving through your behavior that you're not an unreasonable parent with complaints that aren't based in reality.

Just to give you an example: a friend of mine was a teacher in the DC area for a few years, and at one point had a father of a student get angry enough at what he perceived was unfair treatment for his daughter that he showed up at the school, bawled the teacher out in front of his class, and threatened him with physical harm ("you better watch where you go after school"). You only need something like that to happen a couple of times when you're a principal to start believing that not everyone who comes in to complain is playing with a full deck, and that the more angry or irrational the parent seems the more likely it is that the teacher has done nothing wrong. That might not be fair, but I think it's definitely a factor, so you should make every effort possible to present yourself as reasonable and calm. That's why I think bringing in your list of complaints in writing is so helpful; if you start to get angry or upset--which wouldn't be surprising, as you obviously love your daughter and hate seeing her treated badly--you have something to focus on and keep you on track.

Also, I would try to keep in mind that even the most well-behaved kids can have a tendency (hell, everybody can have a tendency) to recount stories of what happened in ways that minimize their role in creating the drama while maximizing the role of the other person--especially if they're explaining it to someone they really want approval and love from. *I* do this, sometimes; it's human nature. To the extent you can keep that in mind (and I'm not saying your daughter is in the wrong, just that you might not have the full story, especially if your daughter doesn't want you to be disappointed in her) and demonstrate to the school administrator that you're not automatically believing your daughter no matter what anyone else says, I think you'll have more success in getting him to take action. Again, it just comes down to showing them through your actions that you are a reasonable guy, with a reasonable complaint.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:31 AM on September 19, 2008

I've had some great interactions with the schools my kids attend, and some lousy ones. When the interaction is lousy, I:

Put it all in writing. I don't call, I email, with cc to the Principal (and on just one occasion the Superintendent), requesting a specific conference date. People are much more apt to respond when you make an action official and traceable.

Get the school counselor involved. He/she is your student's advocate at the school when you aren't there. I don't know the situation with you and your daughter's mother, but if she could go to the school to meet with the coach and counselor with you, that would work very well. If he doesn't like or respect women, which you seem to be suggesting, it will be very obvious to the counselor, and now you have someone at the school to back you up on this.

Also, it does seem from your post that you have a chip on your shoulder about this already, and the counselor might serve as the mediator, soothing tempers. I'm not saying you're wrong, this is your daughter and obviously you are very concerned, but it helps to have someone objective on board.
posted by misha at 12:32 PM on September 19, 2008

Is there a name for this behaviour?


Unfortunately, life is full of them. Help your daughter learn to deal with them without becoming a target. It's September, and she's got a full year to be steeped in his wonderfulness. BTW, I'm somewhat familiar with the bizarre love of high school football that exists in Texas/Louisiana. He has an army of football players to torment her at his disposal.

What concerns me is that there is always some asshole. That seems unusual. What is doing to make herself a target?
posted by 26.2 at 1:12 PM on September 19, 2008

My experience is generally that administrations (not in a loose, parent-oriented organization like little league) will default to their employee's support as a starting position. So just be prepared for that. I wrote a response in a respectful and supportive tone, and if you don't give us all the information all the information that we need to be able to help you, don't turn around and attack. The coach does not get carte blanche, but he is in a stronger position to start, so you need to get your ducks in a row. Your daughter sounds awesome. My advice still stands. Sorry I offended you, but attacking me for my well-meant advice, man who needs it. Flagged.
posted by nax at 1:30 PM on September 19, 2008

Response by poster: Nax,
I never meant to offend and I was not, in any way, offended. It's a subject that's close to my heart. Please accept my apologies. I am by nature a very passionate person. I don't overreact often, and I do have quite a chip on my shoulder. We all have our faults. Mine doesn't involve intimidating little girls. Do you have a daughter? I'd be willing to bet that a vast majority of mefites know what having a gift of a girl will do to you. You're not the same ever. Before we had kids, no worries, then we had 1 girl and 4 years later 1 boy and with their arrival... EVERYTHING changed. The things I stood for back then were for foolish and selfish reasons. Now, it seems as though it's the the opposite. I inquired here because, I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I had a better way of getting my point across I might not leave the office the same way I have in the past - feeling like I was wrong on all points and every statement. I hope you understand.

I really appreciate everyone's advice, the good, the bad and the ugly.

My kindest regards,

posted by winks007 at 2:59 PM on September 19, 2008

Sweet little Amy Adams says this:

"I have worked with some of the meanest people in the world. You can't do anything to intimidate me."

You can work hard to protect your daughter (and believe me I understand that) or you and her can use this as a very practical life lesson.
posted by trinity8-director at 4:34 PM on September 19, 2008

Best answer: Let me clarify (I have bad habit of being overly brief).

As the father of two fantastic daughters I fought the natural internal instinct of flying in to the rescue for every little thing.

"I can help! I can make it all better! That's my job as Dad!" And, most important of all, "I can't bear to see her suffer/struggle."

One day I asked myself what the girls will do when I'm not around to help (read: save) them? I don't mean dying, I mean just not available. Like when they are with friends or at college or (dare I say it?) grown up and moved away. What then?

The only way I could possibly sleep at night would be to really help them by not helping so much. Let them take some lumps and learn to stand up after.

Plato suggested that the students at university should line up every morning and get punched in the face, literally, until they learned to take it without getting knocked down. Well, you and I aren't going to advocate that for our darlings but in a metaphorical sense it is applicable.

Is this guy a jerk and playing favorites? Sure. So why not instead of donning the Super Dad cape you help your daughter deal with the unfairness of it on her own the way she will have to eventually anyway? You can guide her, offer suggestions and counsel but let her figure out how to deal with these kinds of people.

So many benefits to this: she grows and becomes stronger, she learns to solve her own interpersonal problems, you get to be proud of her and worry just a smidge less, to name a few.

Will it be a painful experience? No doubt but like the car commercial guy said, you can pay now or pay later and later will be much more expensive.

My best to you and your daughter.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:06 PM on September 19, 2008

A tangent: One of the great things about requesting an IEP in this instance--not just that public schools hate even the mention of them--is that you can suggest that your daughter's IEP include permission for her to record the class. Between the promise of the administration's headache-to-come navigating the labyrinth of instituting an IEP, and the "threat" that every single class of this instructor's will be recorded, both the admin and the teacher will move to resolve in your favor right quick.

But remember, as most people here have said - go in calmly, with documentation, and with a plan.
posted by tzikeh at 2:55 PM on September 20, 2008

Example. He allowed a football player to walk out of the class with her purse. We have always taught her to stand up for herself and when she tried to leave the class to get her purse from the student, the coach said "I didn't see anything (jokingly). When she stood up for herself, she ended up with a lunch detention.

I would very much like to hear the teacher's side of this example before passing any kind of judgment.
posted by mediareport at 7:34 AM on September 21, 2008

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