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Good-natured teasing of student - WWYD?


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I have a very sweet and sensitive third grader in public school. She is a pleaser by nature and a rule follower. Our home is pretty sedate and low-key.

 

She has a male teacher who has a "teasing" sense of humor that I think most kids would find pretty engaging. DD, however, is not comfortable with it. She doesn't like comments he makes to other students, and she REALLY doesn't like it when he teases her.

 

Example: Yesterday the class was discussing the Boston Tea Party. DD's best friend told the teacher that she and DD had made up a little dance to go with the School House Rock song about the Revolution (yes, they're both kind of geeky). The teacher encouraged them to get up in front of the class and perform their little number. DD is shy and said she'd prefer not to. Teacher ribbed her a little bit "Come on! It's for fun!" DD still said no and the other little girl did the song/dance routine. Classmates applaud and teacher says, "Way to go, BFF! Very brave, BFF!" while looking at DD. His tone was pointing out that DD hadn't participated.

 

OK, the way DD told me this story, she repeated the teacher's tone and words exactly. I laughed because I thought it was pretty funny. She was horrified and asked me to email the teacher and tell him that he'd hurt her feelings. Well, I don't want to do that because I honestly believe that it was some good-natured, harmless ribbing, and she needs to develop thicker skin.

 

I told her I wasn't going to contact the teacher, but if she was sincerely upset about the incident, she should bring it to teacher's attention herself. She thought about it overnight and this morning decided to tell the teacher that his teasing makes her uncomfortable and to ask him not to do it again. I supported this decision and helped her craft a statement to him that would be clear but not offensive.

 

So, now my question. Am I not being supportive of my DD? Should I have called/emailed the teacher? Is it better for DD to develop this skill on her own? 

 

This is NOT a JAWM post. Any and all feedback is appreciated.

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I always prefer to let my children advocate for themselves, if they are able to.  I think it's an important life skill.  So no, I would not have contacted the teacher unless I felt the matter was way over her head.

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I think you did exactly the right thing.

 

I teach high school and I have a teasing sense of humour, but I know not all do, and I really like it when students tell me they don't like it. I prefer it to the parents talking to me. Now my students are older, but I think it is great that you are teaching your daughter to stand up for herself. Way to go mom.

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Honestly, if she is a normal 8 year old, just over on the shy, sensitive spectrum that is likely to stay in a classroom setting long term, I do agree with you.

 

I was definitely this kid growing up. The mistake my parents made was that they didn't sit down and talk to me and tell me my feelings were valid and how to deal with them. It would have been helpful to have someone sit down with me and help puzzle out whether or not my feelings were due to an actual injustice or malicious intent, or if my sensitivities were getting the best of me. So I wouldn't invalidate her thoughts, but I would talk to her about why the teacher wasn't' really making fun of her, but just wants her to be comfortable sharing her thoughts and gifts in the classroom. If there were an actual case or malicious intent, we'd talk about strategies for dealing with those kind of situations. Anyway, I definitely had to figure this out on my own much older and it wasn't particularly pleasant.

 

From the sound of this, it doesn't at all sound at all like this teacher was being malicious IMO. Advocating for oneself is an extremely important life skill that I think not enough kids are learning.

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Do you know the teacher, and know him to be a pretty decent person?  I would probably let it go, and assume he meant it in a good-natured way, but in a way that was also trying to put just a little pressure on her to try and be more brave.  Teasing sometimes has a very blurry line, but I think it's good to try and help our children grow a thicker skin to things like that.  I think you handled it very fairly by listening to your daughter yet not getting worked up about her teacher's actions,

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Your dd sounds very sensible and self possessed.

 

I would NOT email the teacher. I would also not leave a dd in 3rd grade to handle it herself. You do not really know what happened until you hear both sides. IMO, you should make an appointment to meet with the yeacher. In a face to face meeting, you should probably get a sense of whether the teacher is mean or kind or clueless, etc. if he seemed nasty, I' d go to the principal in a non confrontational way. If he seemed nice, I'd explain that his approach doesn't work for my dd.

 

I'm coming from a perspective of a parent active in special needs groups. In my experience, teachers appreciate knowing what works or doesn't work for your child. Unless it's an entitled parent with a spoiled brat kid, which you certainly don't sound like.

 

But just to repeat -- I would avoid email. It may get your point across, but beginning a dialogue will be more productive, and a meeting will do that better. I think it is great that your dd should be her own advocate, and I presume the teacher will think that too, but a little back up your part is appropriate, IMO, considering dd's age.

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Maybe I'm dense. What part of that was teasing? Was it that he said that BFF was brave and he glanced at your dd? If so, I'd thank teacher for encouraging my timid child to come out of her shell and for being so responsive to bff's unorthodox method of displaying her knowledge, rather than complain. I think you handled it fine.

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Maybe I'm dense. What part of that was teasing? Was it that he said that BFF was brave and he glanced at your dd? If so, I'd thank teacher for encouraging my timid child to come out of her shell and for being so responsive to bff's unorthodox method of displaying her knowledge, rather than complain. I think you handled it fine.

Most teachers I know would not insist that a student 'perform' before the class. So that could be construed as teasing. In my area, whether or not something is teasing depends not just on what was said or done, but on how it is perceived by the recipient. (Actually, the bullying laws in my state take into account how actions affect a person, as well as what those actions are. Not saying the incident is bullying, just pointing out for comparison.)

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Thanks for all of the feedback. Yes, the teacher is definitely a nice guy and not malicious. He just has a different sense of humor than DD is used to at home. For example, teacher sings pop songs and changes words to be about kids in the class. I think most of them really like the attention, but DD has a hard time differentiating it from negative attention.

 

 

I was definitely this kid growing up. The mistake my parents made was that they didn't sit down and talk to me and tell me my feelings were valid and how to deal with them. It would have been helpful to have someone sit down with me and help puzzle out whether or not my feelings were due to an actual injustice or malicious intent, or if my sensitivities were getting the best of me. So I wouldn't invalidate her thoughts, but I would talk to her about why the teacher wasn't' really making fun of her, but just wants her to be comfortable sharing her thoughts and gifts in the classroom. If there were an actual case or malicious intent, we'd talk about strategies for dealing with those kind of situations. Anyway, I definitely had to figure this out on my own much older and it wasn't particularly pleasant.
 

 

Great point. When she gets home from school today we can have a sit-down and discuss how her conversation with the teacher went and also speak to your point about being able to differentiate teasing from meanness.

 

Your dd sounds very sensible and self possessed.

I would NOT email the teacher. I would also not leave a dd in 3rd grade to handle it herself. You do not really know what happened until you hear both sides. IMO, you should make an appointment to meet with the yeacher. In a face to face meeting, you should probably get a sense of whether the teacher is mean or kind or clueless, etc. if he seemed nasty, I' d go to the principal in a non confrontational way. If he seemed nice, I'd explain that his approach doesn't work for my dd.

I'm coming from a perspective of a parent active in special needs groups. In my experience, teachers appreciate knowing what works or doesn't work for your child. Unless it's an entitled parent with a spoiled brat kid, which you certainly don't sound like.

But just to repeat -- I would avoid email. It may get your point across, but beginning a dialogue will be more productive, and a meeting will do that better. I think it is great that your dd should be her own advocate, and I presume the teacher will think that too, but a little back up your part is appropriate, IMO, considering dd's age.

 

Thanks for pointing out that email isn't the best medium for this kind of conversation. You're right.

 

Maybe I'm dense. What part of that was teasing? Was it that he said that BFF was brave and he glanced at your dd? If so, I'd thank teacher for encouraging my timid child to come out of her shell and for being so responsive to bff's unorthodox method of displaying her knowledge, rather than complain. I think you handled it fine.

 

Sorry, hard to make it clear in writing (speaks to Alessandra's point about email!). Teacher wasn't just glancing at DD. He was staring at her and emphasizing BFF's name. So looking pointedly at DD and saying, "Way to go, BFF! Very brave, BFF!" as in "but not you, DD."

 

Again, many thanks for all comments. Feel much better now.

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I think you handled it very well. Teaching your dd to advocate for herself is a valuable skill.

 

If she was totally uncomfortable with the idea of approaching the teacher, or if she comes home from school and says she couldn't work up the nerve to talk to him, I'd probably offer to go with her. But I'd let her do the talking and be there as a support, and let the teacher know that you're not upset, you're just there to offer support while your dd speaks up.

 

Cat

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AMDG

 

I have a kiddo that used to really have a hard time with this kind of teasing. It bothered her to be teased but it was an outrage for her to witness other kids to be teased.

 

We were often witnesses to the teasing and considered it good natured and not a problem for most of the kids on whose behalf she was outraged. We also feel that some people relate this way and that as long as it didn't cross certain bounds, it was ok.

 

We felt it our duty to instruct her in way that teasing is okay and when it was out of bounds. We also talked to her about developing a thicker skin, cutting Pl some slack and tolerating appropriate teasing with grace, and when she couldn't to speak up with as much grace as possible. With out of bounds teasing, we taught assertiveness and going to an adult when necessary.

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If he really stared at her while commenting on BFF's bravery, that's a little mean. Do you think it *felt* like he was staring at her? My sensitive kiddo gets offended when really, truly no one is looking at him or talking to him or even about him! My DH was on the phone with another attorney, and DS somehow got it into his head that DH was talking about him. It made zero sense, but DS was already upset about something when the phone rang and DH needed to take the call. It seems when he's upset/tired/sick/whatever, he's more sensitive than usual. If your DD was a little stressed by the thought of performing, she may have been on overdrive.

 

You said DD has trouble differentiating negative attention from any attention. That's so true for DS sometimes! I think it's partially introversion. I don't quite see him teetering toward social anxiety, and it's getting better as he matures. Given that your DD is in a typical classroom setting, maybe some anxiety exercises would be helpful for her?

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the teacher is definitely a nice guy and not malicious. He just has a different sense of humor than DD is used to at home. 

 

being able to differentiate teasing from meanness.

 

Teacher wasn't just glancing at DD. He was staring at her and emphasizing BFF's name. So looking pointedly at DD and saying, "Way to go, BFF! Very brave, BFF!" as in "but not you, DD."

 

Sorry. I think that was mean. He may be a great guy with a "different sense of humor" but he should also realize that kids have different levels of sensitivity to teasing humor and respect that. Honestly, I see what he did as emotional bullying, relatively mild but still. He meant to make her feel bad, not brave. Honestly, being teased is the absolute last thing that would ever make some kids be "brave." Many would be more likely to think forget it because they need to feel safe and supported to put themselves "out there" for the class.

 

I do think it was wonderful for your daughter to handle it herself, and I would have encouraged the same. BUT. If she was too shy and worried/anxious and then I saw that maybe she was shutting herself down further in class, starting to fear the teasing, etc., I would have no problem addressing it with the teacher myself. 

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I would recommend that you do a little research into social anxiety.  My anxious child not only doesn't like anything perceived as teasing but is also uncomfortable with others joking and it is at a level that causes real social impairment.  He has other things going on as well, but one of his very early issues was the teasing.  I don't know where the line between acceptable and "anxiety" is though (we are WAY over the line). 

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Sorry. I think that was mean. He may be a great guy with a "different sense of humor" but he should also realize that kids have different levels of sensitivity to teasing humor and respect that. Honestly, I see what he did as emotional bullying, relatively mild but still. He meant to make her feel bad, not brave. Honestly, being teased is the absolute last thing that would ever make some kids be "brave." Many would be more likely to think forget it because they need to feel safe and supported to put themselves "out there" for the class.

 

I do think it was wonderful for your daughter to handle it herself, and I would have encouraged the same. BUT. If she was too shy and worried/anxious and then I saw that maybe she was shutting herself down further in class, starting to fear the teasing, etc., I would have no problem addressing it with the teacher myself. 

 

I tend to agree.

 

For this kind of friendly teasing to be fun, the teacher has to be exceptionally aware of his student's personalities and to have a really good rapport with them. I had a male teacher "tease" me and other kids in grade 9 and it didn't feel funny at all. As an adult in the same situation as OP's DD, with a teacher I liked and knew well, and if it was said with a smile, I'd laugh and think it was funny. But I do not take myself very seriously now.

 

Two of my children would be extremely uncomfortable.

Changing words of pop songs to use their names? They really wouldn't like it.

 

I'm sure OP's DD is not the only one who doesn't like. If a communication style of a teacher might make even a small percentage of children uncomfortable, he is not being the best teacher he can be. He needs to be aware of that, and he needs to learn to adjust his teaching style.

 

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Thanks for the additional comments. Lots to think about. I agree that there is a strong element of perception in determining whether something is considered harmless or mean. And as adults we have a better ability to discern intent than children do.

 

As for the suggestions that anxiety may be an issue, yes, I've had occasions where I've wondered if her sensitivities could be something more. I've previously reached out to a couple local therapists but neither returned my calls, and I gave up too easily. I'm going to call her pediatrician and ask for another round of referrals.

 

Thanks again!

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So, now my question. Am I not being supportive of my DD? Should I have called/emailed the teacher? Is it better for DD to develop this skill on her own? 

 

 

I think you were supportive of dd in helping her to understand the teacher's motives and actions and to determine that they were not malicious.  I would only have called/emailed the teacher on my dc's behalf if I could not help the dc to either get to the place at which dc was comfortable with the teasing or get the dc to the place at which dc could speak with the teacher herself. 

 

Most kids this age (and older) need parental guidance in learning these skills.  You provided this.  Many kids this age would not feel comfortable advocating for themselves with an authority figure such as a teacher.  That your dd was comfortable with this speaks to her ability to self-advocate. 

 

I don't know if you did this part of it, but if this were my dd, I would provide empathy for her feelings of embarrassment regarding getting in front of the class and doing a dance or receiving teasing, however good-natured.  Some people, kids and adults, just do not enjoy teasing, and it is a kindness to let your dd know this so she will not feel odd or defective.

 

Good job, mama!

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Sorry. I think that was mean. He may be a great guy with a "different sense of humor" but he should also realize that kids have different levels of sensitivity to teasing humor and respect that. Honestly, I see what he did as emotional bullying, relatively mild but still. He meant to make her feel bad, not brave. Honestly, being teased is the absolute last thing that would ever make some kids be "brave." Many would be more likely to think forget it because they need to feel safe and supported to put themselves "out there" for the class.

 

 

I think it was mean too.  And I really dislike it when teachers set the example of teasing for their class.  Does he really believe that the other kids aren't going to pick this up?  He is effectively telling the kids it is OK to be mean to their classmates.  It will escalate; maybe this year, maybe next, but the kids have absorbed the idea that it's OK to be mean.  When they get to middle school, everyone will be wondering why these kids are so mean. It is more than an issue of whether or not a particular student is comfortable with it.

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I think it was mean too. And I really dislike it when teachers set the example of teasing for their class. Does he really believe that the other kids aren't going to pick this up? He is effectively telling the kids it is OK to be mean to their classmates. It will escalate; maybe this year, maybe next, but the kids have absorbed the idea that it's OK to be mean. When they get to middle school, everyone will be wondering why these kids are so mean. It is more than an issue of whether or not a particular student is comfortable with it.

I agree. I do think there can be a fine line, but based on the example in the OP, I agree.

 

DD's best friend told the teacher that she and DD had made up a little dance to go with the School House Rock song about the Revolution (yes, they're both kind of geeky). The teacher encouraged them to get up in front of the class and perform their little number. DD is shy and said she'd prefer not to. Teacher ribbed her a little bit "Come on! It's for fun!" DD still said no and the other little girl did the song/dance routine. Classmates applaud and teacher says, "Way to go, BFF! Very brave, BFF!" while looking at DD. His tone was pointing out that DD hadn't participated.

The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. Your DD did help make up the dance, and BFF was the one who volunteered that information. The teacher could have (and I believe should have) said something supportive instead, something like, "Way to go, BFF! Good job, girls! Very creative!" Instead, despite having contributed, she was made to feel as if she let him down even though she didn't bring it up to begin with? The whole thing was their thing in the first place, not a shirked assignment.

 

By the way, good for your DD! If she can stand up to pressure from teachers, she will probably defy peer pressure later too! :D

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I would talk to the teacher and get the other side of the story.  I have worked with kids that feel you are staring at them, mad at them etc all because you looked in their direction.  If I look across the room at everyone in general they right away demand to know why I am staring at them etc.  So I would check what really happened before assuming the teacher was actually being mean staring at her etc.

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The mistake my parents made was that they didn't sit down and talk to me and tell me my feelings were valid and how to deal with them. It would have been helpful to have someone sit down with me and help puzzle out whether or not my feelings were due to an actual injustice or malicious intent, or if my sensitivities were getting the best of me. So I wouldn't invalidate her thoughts, but I would talk to her about why the teacher wasn't' really making fun of her, but just wants her to be comfortable sharing her thoughts and gifts in the classroom. If there were an actual case or malicious intent, we'd talk about strategies for dealing with those kind of situations. Anyway, I definitely had to figure this out on my own much older and it wasn't particularly pleasant.

 

 

 

Wooly Socks makes a good point. I think you did the right thing, but I also agree that it would be good idea to sit down and talk with your DD.

 

 

 

For this kind of friendly teasing to be fun, the teacher has to be exceptionally aware of his student's personalities and to have a really good rapport with them.

 

:iagree:

 

I taught elementary, middle school, and high school at different times in my teaching career. High school kids are the easiest to tease with because they don't take things as literally as younger kids do. Regardless of age or grade level, a good teacher should know his students well enough to know who it's okay to tease. Is he new to teaching or new to teaching young kids? I don't think he was being mean but I think he needs to work on getting to know his students better. 

 

If you do decide to contact the teacher, I agree that email probably isn't the best. If you can't do it in person, then try a phone call. Let him know you understand his intent was innocent, but that your DD is sensitive. I do believe in teaching children to advocate for themselves, but your DD is still young. Add that to the fact that she's sensitive, and it's okay to still help her in this area. Just try to help her realize that the end goal is for her to learn to stand up for herself.

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I think teasing is best done when you know a person well so it's not misinterpreted.  I'm not a fan of teasing directed at any child (unless it's lighthearted and you know the child well) especially in front of a group setting.  In some kids it can really trigger feelings of anxiety and be singled out in a negative way.  If your daughter can speak to the teacher and communicate her concerns that's fantastic.  I would have contacted the teacher and just asked about the situation and then explained that it had made her uncomfortable.  But for my kids third grade would have been to soon to confront a teacher and give feedback on how they felt in a particular circumstance.  I would hope a good teacher would want to know if they have unknowingly made a child uncomfortable.  

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Well I probably would email the teacher, but not to correct him, just to give him a heads up.  I'd repeat what you said here, tell him you thought what he said was funny but that she was somewhat sensitive and that you were trying to teach her to 1) develop a thicker skin and 2) assert herself. I'd ask him to let you know if she decided to talk to him, and how she did.  He can probably be aware of some gentle ways to deal with that, or even help without her being aware of it.

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I'm sure OP's DD is not the only one who doesn't like. If a communication style of a teacher might make even a small percentage of children uncomfortable, he is not being the best teacher he can be. He needs to be aware of that, and he needs to learn to adjust his teaching style.

 

 

I'm not picking on 67_others, but using her comment as an example because other people said similar things. The problem with this perspective is that in a class of 30ish children, you will always have people who view from a different perspective.  What about the children who do best with a teacher who is witty and humorous? Is it fair to them to have him dial down his personality to not offend the sensitive students.

 

"Mom, Mr X used to be fun, but now he sounds like Mr Rogers. I don't like class like this!" While an imaginary quote, I actually had one of my own children tell me they didn't like Mr Rogers because he was 'sappy' That came from a 4 year old. How he knew the word 'sappy' is beyond me but he sure knew Mr Rogers wasn't his cup of tea. If he was forced to be in a classroom with him, he would have been uncomfortable. Shouldn't we ask the teacher to be the best that he can be for those types of children as well? 

 

Finding a middle ground is beneficial for the teacher but it is beneficial for the student as well. Not every student/teacher combo is a success. I think mom did a wonderful job of encouraging her daughter to speak up for herself. Together with the teacher they may find a comfortable dynamic but asking the teacher to do all of the accommodating isn't fair.

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I'm not picking on 67_others, but using her comment as an example because other people said similar things. The problem with this perspective is that in a class of 30ish children, you will always have people who view from a different perspective. What about the children who do best with a teacher who is witty and humorous? Is it fair to them to have him dial down his personality to not offend the sensitive students.

 

"Mom, Mr X used to be fun, but now he sounds like Mr Rogers. I don't like class like this!" While an imaginary quote, I actually had one of my own children tell me they didn't like Mr Rogers because he was 'sappy' That came from a 4 year old. How he knew the word 'sappy' is beyond me but he sure knew Mr Rogers wasn't his cup of tea. If he was forced to be in a classroom with him, he would have been uncomfortable. Shouldn't we ask the teacher to be the best that he can be for those types of children as well?

 

Finding a middle ground is beneficial for the teacher but it is beneficial for the student as well. Not every student/teacher combo is a success. I think mom did a wonderful job of encouraging her daughter to speak up for herself. Together with the teacher they may find a comfortable dynamic but asking the teacher to do all of the accommodating isn't fair.

A teacher should still be himself, of course. But I personally believe that interaction with individual children should be adjusted as much as practicable according to personality. A teacher with 30ish children in his class every year should be accommodating and mature enough to realize that not everyone will respond the same to his brand of humor.

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Interesting to read this thread right after the one about the women in American Heritage Girls who got called to the carpet for making a girl cry.

 

In both cases, I think it is absolutely a parent's responsiblity to teach children to learn to cope with different types of adult teachers, not ask all adults to teach to accommodate a very sensitive kid.  Saying this as someone who was sensitive. I know it doesn't get EASIER after 3rd grade. Learning to not take it personally, and to accept good intentions in different forms, is a basic skill kids should be developing at that age.

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He didn't need to look at your daughter while praising the other girl for being brave.   (I think that was the only thing he really did that I objected to.  I was a very sensitive child.)  I think your helping her be able to present her own feelings to her teacher is on the more helpful side.  help her explain why it hurts her though, she needs more detail so he will understand.  he's an adult who isn't shy (and you don't know if he ever dealt with shyness) .  if he persists, then it is time to discuss it with him more.

 

some kids just are that sensitive, and pushing them doesn't develop a thicker skin - it makes them more anxious.  repeated encouragement is more effective.  though sometimes they do need to be strongly "encouraged".

 

eta: I happen to be one who thinks a teacher should be able to know his students well enough to adjust how he deals with each of them.  just like parents adjust how they interact with their own children.

I didn't like mr. rogers either, it was boring to me.  I did love the miniature town in the credits.

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I think it's entirely possible that this is an incident which the girl complained about and had a positive influence on her in terms of feeling comfortable going up front.   Change and growing up can be uncomfortable.  It's totally normal to object to something like what the teacher did while still getting something positive out of it.

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I think you handled it fine.

 

I don't know if the teacher "stared" at your DD, or if that was her perception, but encouraging her to advocate for herself in these types of situations is great.

 

On a side note, isn't public speaking/presentations something kids still learn/have to do in school? Perhaps encouraging her to "be brave" so that she CAN get accolades for her work and creativity is also in order. Even sensitive and shy people need to learn this skill.

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Just to update, DD did not ask the teacher to stop the teasing yesterday. The teacher mentioned the incident again by once again praising the other little girl (who deserves it BTW) but also mentioning that DD didn't do it. ("Wanted to tell you again, BFF, what a great job you did, unlike someone else who will remain nameless, but who's name rhymes with XXXXX"). Again, the tone was completely jovial, but this kind of bothers me because no one wants to be the butt of a running joke. 

 

HOWEVER, DD also told me about another exchange where she liked the attention given by the teacher. They were doing this "second step" health/feelings thing (another story...) and the teacher asked about ways to verbalize feeling sad/unhappy. DD is all excited (Mom, I got to quote Anne of Green Gables!) and said, "Being in the depths of despair." Teacher, says, "Wow, miss smarty pants, only you would come up with that one!"

 

I explained to DD that she needs to distinguish good attention from bad attention and that the speaker's intentions are important to determining the difference. She needs to ask herself if the person is meaning to hurt her feelings or just trying to pay attention to her. I also pointed out that she needs to take the good with the bad. If she asks the teacher not to tease her anymore, she will likely also lose out on some of the positive attention, since that is his way of engaging the class. 

 

She's mulling it over...

 

Also, as info, we are fortunate that DD is in an excellent elementary school. Class size is only 18 students, so I think that the teacher can personalize his approach to working with the kids to a certain extent. I agree with the poster, though, that pointed out every interaction can't be individualized as the needs of a sensitive student shouldn't trump those of the kids who enjoy/require a more dynamic (for lack of a better word) approach.

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Just to update, DD did not ask the teacher to stop the teasing yesterday. The teacher mentioned the incident again by once again praising the other little girl (who deserves it BTW) but also mentioning that DD didn't do it. ("Wanted to tell you again, BFF, what a great job you did, unlike someone else who will remain nameless, but who's name rhymes with XXXXX"). Again, the tone was completely jovial, but this kind of bothers me because no one wants to be the butt of a running joke. 

 

I don't see this behavior as jovial in the slightest.  Just because something is said with a smile doesn't mean it is friendly or "fun" teasing.

 

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Just to update, DD did not ask the teacher to stop the teasing yesterday. The teacher mentioned the incident again by once again praising the other little girl (who deserves it BTW) but also mentioning that DD didn't do it. ("Wanted to tell you again, BFF, what a great job you did, unlike someone else who will remain nameless, but who's name rhymes with XXXXX"). Again, the tone was completely jovial, but this kind of bothers me because no one wants to be the butt of a running joke. 

 

HOWEVER, DD also told me about another exchange where she liked the attention given by the teacher. They were doing this "second step" health/feelings thing (another story...) and the teacher asked about ways to verbalize feeling sad/unhappy. DD is all excited (Mom, I got to quote Anne of Green Gables!) and said, "Being in the depths of despair." Teacher, says, "Wow, miss smarty pants, only you would come up with that one!"

 

I explained to DD that she needs to distinguish good attention from bad attention and that the speaker's intentions are important to determining the difference. She needs to ask herself if the person is meaning to hurt her feelings or just trying to pay attention to her. I also pointed out that she needs to take the good with the bad. If she asks the teacher not to tease her anymore, she will likely also lose out on some of the positive attention, since that is his way of engaging the class. 

 

She's mulling it over...

 

Also, as info, we are fortunate that DD is in an excellent elementary school. Class size is only 18 students, so I think that the teacher can personalize his approach to working with the kids to a certain extent. I agree with the poster, though, that pointed out every interaction can't be individualized as the needs of a sensitive student shouldn't trump those of the kids who enjoy/require a more dynamic (for lack of a better word) approach.

 

Well I thought he was mean, as I said yesterday, but even I agreed that "every interaction can't be individualized." But this was an individual interaction (though performed for the amusement of the class, perhaps) which easily could have been supportive instead of biting. At this point though, bringing it up a day later, and still going to a negative, shaming place instead of (presumably) having ANYTHING nice to say about the fact that she helped come up with the dance and was not the one who brought it up to him in the first place... I don't see how that is playful at all. 

 

Your talks with your DD are wonderful. Truly. I agree that she does need to differentiate good from bad attention, and I'm happy to know that she does receive and enjoy positive feedback. But that doesn't mean she should keep quiet when she believes the feedback she receives is negative, unfair, or unwarranted. Just as she needs to differentiate benign from hurtful feedback, the teacher should be given the chance to know when his words are causing hurt, unintended or otherwise.

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No chance of any sassy comebacks from DD. She is a rule-follower to her very core. Well, I should clarify. She's loaded with sassy comebacks for me and DH, but outside our home, no way.

 

And to the PP who used the word "fresh" - that's exactly the word DD uses to describe the teacher.

 

 

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Why should anyone be made to feel bad because they did not get up in front of their class and dance? He sounds too fresh for me.

I agree.  Carrying this into the next day is going overboard.  I think he is likely unaware of how this approach might affect students.  I would likely continue the talks with dd that you are doing AND go with her to give the teacher feedback regarding how his interactions are affecting her.  You can continue to educate and empower her while providing a protective presence as her mom. 

 

I dealt with some quasi-bullying with one of my sons earlier this year in which he was the victim, and I struggled mightily with how much to empower him versus how much to get directly involved.  My son is 13 so the answer is different for him than for your dd, and the situation resolved well with my son feeling empowered, which is a beautiful thing for someone growing into a young man (or young lady).  If I had a third grader in the situation you describe, I would likely insert myself at this point since dd did not choose to advocate for herself and the teasing is continuing. 

 

Can I just say, though, that you really rock at this mom stuff?  You are approaching this thoughtfully and carefully and using it as an opportunity for dd to learn so many valuable interpersonal skills and how to differentiate people's motives and what to do in a situation with an authority figure.  So, in my book, you are a rock star mom.

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Good job, momma. In the long run, your dd will benefit so much from talking this through to figure out what her feelings are and how to handle this classroom environment and different personality. I would continue to coach her about speaking up for herself. He really should let it go, and probably doesn't realize that it's bothering her. Approached positively, this could be a learning experience for him also. Especially since it sounds like he's generally a positive teacher, he's probably genuinely unaware of the way his "ribbing" is coming across to your sensitive dd. (Lest anyone misinterpret, I know it's not your job to teach the teacher. I just mean that we all learn and grow from our experiences, and having people around us willing to speak kindly helps in that process.)

 

:)

Cat

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I wouldn't be thrilled if my daughter thought such comments, "Only smartypants like you...", no matter how nicely and positiely said, were a positive way to communicate.

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 The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. Your DD did help make up the dance, and BFF was the one who volunteered that information. The teacher could have (and I believe should have) said something supportive instead, something like, "Way to go, BFF! Good job, girls! Very creative!" Instead, despite having contributed, she was made to feel as if she let him down even though she didn't bring it up to begin with? The whole thing was their thing in the first place, not a shirked assignment.

 

 

A thousand times yes to this! 

 

 On a side note, isn't public speaking/presentations something kids still learn/have to do in school? Perhaps encouraging her to "be brave" so that she CAN get accolades for her work and creativity is also in order. Even sensitive and shy people need to learn this skill.

 

This was not public speaking/presentations; this was, hey, get up and do a little dance you made up for fun, right now! I used to lead training sessions for large groups of people, but if I had been unexpectedly asked to perform a silly song or dance I had made up, you better believe that was NOT going to happen. Not wanting to do that doesn't mean she is unable to speak in public or present her work when prepared. 

 

I don't think a teacher has to have psychological superpowers to realize that many kids would not want to do this, and that persisting in putting them on the spot is likely to make them uncomfortable. Bringing it up again in a clearly negative way definitely makes me think there is a bit of mean-spiritedness going on, as does the smarty-pants remark. Even though she didn't mind that one, I can't imagine a teacher thinking it was a good idea to call a student 'smarty-pants' in front of the class. 

 

I definitely think his behavior paves the way for students to tease others, and then back off with the 'only kidding' excuse. 

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I have been following this thread with interest because I had a 5th grade teacher who loved to tease and I was a sensitive girl. OP, you are a great mom.  I will say, that the comment about "miss smartypants" might lose a bit in writing because it was exactly what my teacher would say, with a nice smile and a wink. I loved that.  I learned a lot about not being quite so sensitive and serious being in his class, and after a bit of a rocky start, he was my favorite teacher ever. 

 

I am assuming that your dd has been in this teacher's class since August (?), if so his manner can't be a real surprise in March. BTW, Anne of Green Gables was my favorite book back then! And I am pretty sure that reading that during class earned me the "miss smartypants" as well.

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He's out of line. I loved to tease my kids when I taught, but I NEVER would have carried something like that over to the next day. I also wouldn't have done what he did the first day of singling out your dd on day one while bragging on her BFF. I think he's trying too hard to be like the kids. It's fine to a point, but what he did in those two situations of bragging on BFF while looking at your dd is over the line, IMO. It is bullying.

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Well said.

A thousand times yes to this! 

 

 

This was not public speaking/presentations; this was, hey, get up and do a little dance you made up for fun, right now! I used to lead training sessions for large groups of people, but if I had been unexpectedly asked to perform a silly song or dance I had made up, you better believe that was NOT going to happen. Not wanting to do that doesn't mean she is unable to speak in public or present her work when prepared. 

 

I don't think a teacher has to have psychological superpowers to realize that many kids would not want to do this, and that persisting in putting them on the spot is likely to make them uncomfortable. Bringing it up again in a clearly negative way definitely makes me think there is a bit of mean-spiritedness going on, as does the smarty-pants remark. Even though she didn't mind that one, I can't imagine a teacher thinking it was a good idea to call a student 'smarty-pants' in front of the class. 

 

I definitely think his behavior paves the way for students to tease others, and then back off with the 'only kidding' excuse. 

 

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IMO singling a child out for negative comments and making compliments come off in a negative way- "smarty pants" sets that child up for future bullying.  The other kids see that it is OK to treat her different because she's smart and shy rather than accepting her as she is.  I don't know what you can do about it as it would be hard for the teacher to change his style on the fly and he probably thinks he is bringing her out of her shell.  But I'd be prepared to help her navigate the long term negative effects it may have with her class mates.  :(

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