How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship With Teachers


Photo Courtesy of S. Shen Seventh grade science teacher, Lisa Spicer, assists student Tyler Brook, with a class assignment.

Forgot your homework one day the next you are given a detention for talking in class? Chances are you have had a conflict with a teacher at one point or another, and yet the student-teacher relationship can be strengthened with some quick tips for better communication. The Matador Messenger brings you the sixth article in the “How to Maintain a Healthy Relationship” series with your teacher.

“Students at this age are beginning to become independent. Becoming independent is a good thing. It comes with privileges and responsibilities. Sometimes students aren’t ready for the responsibilities. They are also influenced by their friends more than ever. Student have their own ideas about what they want and these conflict with what their parents or teachers want them to do,” explained BYMS Assistant Principal, Steven Marshall, who has mediated a number of student-teacher conflicts over the years.

Conflicts are a part of growing up and unfortunately every one has to experience them. However, knowing how to deal with conflicts helps “with recognizing they need supportive adults and to build those relationships with ones that they can develop meaningful relationships with, where it’s needed in their lives,” stated Ms. Pendleton, BYMS counselor, during an interview with the Matador Messenger.

In a recent Matador Messenger sponsored Survey Monkey of 100 BYMS students, the most common reasons students have conflicts with teachers include paying attention in class (28%), homework (26%), not listening (21%), grades (20%), and the remainder of participants indicated they have conflicts for other reasons.

“Communication challenges. Honesty challenges. Fear. A bad day. There are a million various reasons for conflict,” according to  Amy De Friese, BYMS language arts teacher.

“Conflicts are usually the result of a student being called out in class about their behavior. Some students will think that they are being picked on. This is rarely the case. The extent to which a student is disruptive becomes obvious when that student is absent and the other students recognize how much different a class is as a result,” explained Phil Seitz, BYMS social studies teacher.

Ms. Pendleton added, “One solution might be to discuss their concerns with an adult that they trust. Solutions regarding the situation can be brainstormed and the student could possibly come to a solution that would work for them.”

Out of the 100 total student participants, 23% identified doing their work and paying attention as a common way to resolve conflicts, 13% work hard, 11% talk to the teacher, 24% indicated that they do all these things, 19% indicated that they use different methods to resolve conflicts and 10% don’t have a method of resolving conflicts.

De Friese explained several steps for students to resolve conflicts with teachers as “Communication. Time. Take an interest in their interests. Smile. Listen well.”

Students, and adults for that matter, may not realize that often the best first step is to simply ‘listen.’ “Listen first, think of someone other than yourself. This isn’t easy, but once you get in the habit, you and everyone around you will be happier!” advised Marshall.

When feeling as though they were treated unfairly, BYMS student participants indicated that they (42%) complain to a friend, (36%) tell a parent, (16%) tell the office staff,  and (6%) yell at the teacher.

“First, any person who “feels” as though they were treated unfairly has a problem from the start. Feelings are bad measurements of reality. Everyone has feelings, but our feelings are always based on our own unique perspective. Instead I would suggest that a person ask the one whom they “think” has treated them unfairly some questions – look for some facts,” advised Seitz.

Ms. Pendleton stated when referring to siblings, “We were created to have relationships and the more experiences a teen can have with other people, the more value it may create on a personal level for them.”