Gentle approach is the best way to combat a shouty teacher

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 January, 2012, 12:00am


My son says his teacher shouts a lot, especially at the naughty members of the class. Although this does not include him, he is quite sensitive and does not like this type of discipline. It is putting him off going to school. Can I broach this with the teacher, or should I just accept that this is her style of teaching?

Different teachers have different teaching styles. Some like to use a loud voice for effect or to make a particular impact. They may actually need to raise their voices on some occasions, depending on the classroom location and the environment. But if this style of interaction or discipline with the children is constant and consistent, it is usually not appropriate.

A secure, productive ethos and a reflective, calm atmosphere in a classroom are paramount. A teacher who continually shouts is likely to give children negative feelings about education at best. This may even put them off attending school.

Modern education is not about teachers force-feeding children with information, but challenging them to experiment with ideas and solve problems. For this to be successful, a positive, open relationship is needed between the students and teacher. Educational research has shown that if a child is anxious, the ability to learn effectively decreases. If students do not feel that their teacher is approachable, it will undoubtedly affect their willingness to ask for help or contribute in class. We all know children have a particularly well-tuned sense of justice, and often react strongly when they feel their treatment is unfair.

Ask your son to give you some specific examples of the teacher's behaviour. Then try to ascertain if all the students are treated in this manner or if it is only certain members of the class. If you know another parent of a child in the class ask them if they have heard the same thing. Be aware, however, that children can exaggerate situations or view them differently to an adult.

If you are convinced that your concern may have some basis in fact, then it is appropriate to follow up with the school. With a potentially awkward issue such as this, make an appointment to see the teacher personally. It is difficult to discuss sensitive issues over the phone, especially in this case as you are questioning her professional approach and competence.

Try not to put the teacher on the defensive by going in with all guns blazing. Explain your worries and be open in your discussion. Give the teacher a chance to explain what is going on. Ask if your child has been disruptive in any way. If so, point out that you should have been notified about this already.

If you are still not satisfied, make an appointment to see the principal or a member of the senior leadership team. They will be able to monitor the teacher's performance and offer support if they really do have some difficulty employing the appropriate disciplinary strategies.

Teachers are, of course, important role models for children and should be aiming to build a culture of mutual respect. They are also human beings with feelings, moods and sensitivities. Of course, they will have good days and bad days, like anyone else.

Teaching demanding or difficult classes, especially those containing a wide range of abilities, can be very stressful and exhausting.

Personalities are involved, too. It is not unknown for teachers to find it difficult to relate to certain individuals in the class.

But it is an intrinsic part of their job to cope with these situations and create the best possible learning environment for the students.

Good teachers will use their talents and experience to teach lessons that are interesting and stimulating so children are inspired to work and are positively engaged.

Julie McGuire teaches at an international school