The Norman Transcript

October 11, 2013

Troublemaker’s sister shouldn’t be labeled


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Q: My older son was a behavior problem in high school. He was defiant, cut class — you name it, he did it. Now that our daughter has entered high school, she is known as the sister of a troublemaker.

What can we do to let her teachers know she is nothing like her brother and doesn’t deserve the treatment that he received?

— Martha,

Oklahoma City

Dear Martha,

Has she been treated unfairly? Is she afraid she’s going to be looked down on because her brother got in trouble, or is it actually happening? Does your daughter feel comfortable talking to her teachers about this problem? In any case, this problem needs to be addressed sooner than later.

If she’s comfortable, we always want children to be their own advocates. This is a perfect time to teach her about this. Have her ask her teachers when the best time would be to talk to them — obviously, during class when a teacher is teaching is not the best time.

If she doesn’t feel as though she can handle these discussions by herself, the next best option would be for you to schedule a conference with her teacher(s) or counselor and include her in this conference for her to see how to advocate. This will help her learn the best ways of standing up for herself.

You must realize younger siblings follow older siblings throughout school, and teachers have seen this situation many times before. They will be very open and compassionate to her fears.

Q: I have started my 10th year of teaching, have had good evaluations and have been successful. I’ve had a couple of other principals over the years, but this year, I have a new one.

My problem is that this principal has already come in making several changes and seems to be a micromanager. Have you ever had to deal with this, and if so, what did you do?

— Name withheld

by request

A: As a matter of fact, we have both been in your same position. Like you, we have had wonderful, supportive principals — but we also have had a few who were not well-suited to this particular job.

Our best advice is to concentrate on the students in your classroom and continue to do what you do best. If incidents occur, be sure to document and date, so if anything happens where you might need this at a later date, it will be readily available.

Don’t get caught up in faculty grumblings, as this only exacerbates the problem. If you still don’t feel comfortable in the spring when job openings begin to post, moving to another building is often an excellent option.

As hard as it may be to leave your friends and coworkers, new opportunities may prove to be worth the sacrifice. If we can survive it, you can, too. Let us know if we can be of any further help. Best of luck.

Send questions to questions.classact@gmail.com. Sally and Jeannie are certified school counselors with more than 50 years combined educational experience. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district.