Asking for a Friend: Help! My teachers judge me and I don’t want to go to school

  • Each week, we respond to a question from our readers and give advice and resources they can turn to
  • This week, we help a student who is frustrated by their teachers and being judged for their appearance
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Sometimes teachers are too strict, but other times they are just following the rules. Photo: Shutterstock

Need an answer to a personal question that you’ve never mustered the courage to ask? We’ve been there. Whether it is about school, family issues or social life, share your thoughts with us. If you have a question you’d like answered (about anything at all), please fill out this Google Form. Don’t worry – you will remain anonymous!

Dear Friend,

I really need help. My teachers are so weird. They judge us by our looks and our hair. They panic for no reason and suddenly ask you study-related questions just to scare you. I know that not all teachers are like this, but I have three or four who are. They make my school life hell. I don’t know what to do. I don’t like to go to school and can’t even tell my parents because they will not believe me. What should I do?

Signed, Judged

Dear Judged,

It is always stressful to be judged based on your looks, no matter who does it! We do have to wonder though; are your teachers doing this because they want to, or because they are following school rules? It’s possible they are being pressured to make sure students adhere to the school’s uniform requirements. You may reduce the negative patterns of thinking to start with, and think and approach the situations more positively.

When your teachers ask you and your classmates study-related questions, it could be their way of consolidating the knowledge you have learned. We understand that, as a student, pop quizzes are quite stressful. However, they are also an effective way to test how much you have learned. Your teachers may have good intentions and want you and your classmates to learn, study and retain the information you have learned in class.

How do your friends feel about your teachers? Do they have similar concerns? It may help to ask them how they feel about the wardrobe checks and pop quizzes. They could offer a different point of view or make you feel more firm in your opinion and give you the confidence you need to speak up.

In general, teachers are kind and understanding towards their students. But if you feel like you are being treated unfairly, you should speak up and let your teachers know how you feel. You can do this calmly and respectfully, explaining how their actions affect you and asking for their understanding and support. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your teachers directly, you could talk to the school social workers or counsellors, since they are there to help students. They should be able to discuss the issue with you and help find a solution.

Finally, we know the thought makes you nervous, but you should talk to your parents about your teachers and how being at school makes you feel. They care about you and want you to be in an environment you can thrive in. Tell them about your issues, such as your unwillingness to go to school, so they can give you advice or help you find a solution.

The question was answered by clinical psychologists from the Department of Health under Shall We Talk, a mental health initiative launched with the Advisory Committee on Mental Health.

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