Dear Lauren,

I have a teacher who is so mean to me! I think she’s mean to other kids in my class, too, but I definitely feel the negative vibes coming from her. She also doesn’t always know the material she’s teaching and tells us wrong things. She told us something about the plot in Tom Sawyer that wasn’t what happened in the book! I don’t know why the school has her, and I can’t stand having her in my life!

Lauren Roth

Lauren Roth's Answer

Our neighbors got a rooster. I feel so cool and country being awakened at dawn by him every morning! But last night he heartily let out quite a few cock-a-doodle-doos – at 3:00 a.m.. Hmmmm. It’s the perfect analogy for your situation: not everyone always does what they’re supposed to do.

Teachers are supposed to be kind, caring, and loving, and discipline properly and positively to keep students in line and learning. Teachers are not supposed to be randomly mean or nasty or unpleasant. They’re supposed to be beloved by all students, and they, in turn, are supposed to love all students, and dispense loving discipline. Schools are supposed to vet teachers to find excellent educators, and loving, firm “leaders” for their classrooms (i.e. teachers). Not everyone always does what they’re supposed to do.

In high school, I had two teachers in particular who were like second parents to me. I felt their love behind their mentorship, and they really did (and still do) care about me and my life, my development, my ideas, my goals and aspirations…. That’s what a teacher is supposed to be.

I’ve also had teachers in my life and in my children’s academic careers who were pretty nasty. They had their own agendas, and didn’t seem to care much about the growth, development, feelings, or ideas of their students. Perhaps they cared – but their students (or some of their students) definitely didn’t feel the love. Nor the caring. Nor the respect.

What I mean is this: not everyone always does what they’re supposed to do. From some people you learn how to be. And from some people you learn how not to be.

First, in order to feel validated, I would advise you to notice how other kids in your class seem to feel about this teacher. If they don’t seem to be feeling the negative vibes, too, know that I feel for you! (You can read that sentence I wrote over and over again: “I feel for you!” I really do.)

Also, you can talk to your parents about it, if you can; maybe they’ll understand and make you feel validated. Are your parents the type of parents who understand you? If so, you have a great gift. Share your feelings with them.

You can have your parents talk to the principal. Give your parents the facts. It most probably won’t change anything, but if it’s an option, you’ll feel you did what you could do.

The situation probably won’t change, and that’s okay. This is an opportunity for you to learn how to deal with difficult people.

However, I have to tell you: no matter what you do, the situation probably won’t change, and that’s okay. This is an opportunity for you to learn how to deal with difficult people.

I see you emerging from this difficult situation as a kinder person than your teacher is. Again: from some people you learn how to be, and from some people you learn how not to ever be. If you ever catch yourself being mean or demeaning to others, or not valuing other people’s ideas, I hope you’ll remember how yucky it felt, directed at you from your teacher, and stop doing it right away. I’ll bet feeling bad about how she treats you will stop you from being mean to anyone in the first place. I’m not saying there aren’t better ways to learn how to be nice! But I guess God decided this is one of the ways that would help you learn. And maybe there are even more lessons to learn from her – like making sure you really know your material for your work, unlike her level of preparedness.

I promise you, if you approach this difficulty with awareness of what your teacher is doing, and discernment about what you want to learn or not learn from her behavior, you will gain tremendously.

As my father says, “If we were all created and placed on Earth to sit around and play baseball all day, the world wouldn’t be set up as it is.” Because of the way the world is, it’s pretty obvious we weren’t created to have all fun and games, all the time, only. We were created to have both joy and struggle. I will comfort you with the knowledge that our struggles build us as people, and this struggle of yours with your teacher is no different.

I love riding my bike. The trail I take has a lot of nice curves and turns, some gentle, rolling hills, and one murderously steep part. Each time I force my way up that steep incline, as soon as I crest the hill and begin the downhill glide, I spontaneously erupt into talking to My Friend, God, and thanking Him for everything I have. I think it takes struggles and steep, uphill climbs for us to then recognize and feel gratitude to God when the pain is over. I’m sorry you have pain. But, then, there is much to be gained.