Be the change, being a teacher, student voice

I Hate Your Class

She tells me that she hates my class.  She hates coming.  She hates what we are doing.  Waits for my reaction, after all, aren’t those fighting words?  I take a breath, quell my shame, and ask, “How can I help?  What can I do?”

Nothing, she says, and she looks away.  This conversation is over.

I carry the words with me wherever I go.  I am the teacher that a child hates to have.  I am a teacher whose class a child hates.

It happens to all of us and yet we feel like, surely, we must be the only ones who have ever been told just how awful we are.  Just how miserable we make coming to school, just how we make this child feel.  In the past, a long time ago, I would have gotten mad.  Angry at the words.  How dare you and do you know what I do to make this class great?  Don’t you know just how much I care?  Don’t you see all of the kids smiling, having fun, investing in our class?  Don’t you hear their declaration of love?

Surely it cannot be me but you that is the problem…

Now I know that the words are not meant to hurt, but instead, inform.  To help us realize that what we are doing at the moment is not what this child needs.  That their lens of our classroom needs to change, that somehow, somewhere our connection has been dulled or frazzled and that it is in our power to now do something about it.

Because that’s what those words are; an invitation to repair.  To have a deeper conversation.  To say, what can I do instead of what have you done?  To reflect on our actions, on our interactions, and question how we are part of the problem before we get to the solution.  It starts with us, and it starts with asking, after all, not every child will have the courage to say it straight to your face.

So on Monday, take a moment to ask your students or even your teachers, do you like our classroom, do you like our school, do you think I like you?  Ask them to trust you with their truths and put their names on the answer.

Take a deep breath before you read the answers.

Don’t get angry, get quiet instead, think for a moment and then approach the kids, or the adults, and thank them for their honesty.  For their truth.  Then ask, how can we make it better?  How can we change this?

Because we cannot change what we don’t know.

I am the teacher that a child hates to have.  I am a teacher whose class a child hates.  But it is not all I am.  It is not all I have to be. If only I have the courage to ask.  I can change that, we all can.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child, out August 2017.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.


10 thoughts on “I Hate Your Class”

  1. Pernille: Your words and reflections are so beautiful! I would be honored to have my child’s teacher ask her these words, and your intent to repair is beyond moving as an educator and a parent. Thank you for your work and your inspiration.

  2. One of the most wonderful teachers I know heard a teacher telling a student about to get on the bus, “I hope you act better tomorrow.” She intervened and said, smiling, “Every day is a new day and a new start. I’m looking forward to seeing you in class tomorrow. I’m sure Mr. X is, too. Tomorrow, we’ll all try harder to have a great day.” She later advised the new teacher to treat every day as a new opportunity to have a good educational experience, for both the teacher and student. Good advice I’ve remembered.

  3. Sometimes, the children who hate our classroom, hate our school, and don’t want to be there are really just trying to tell you how much they are hurting inside. Sometimes, they are the children who love us the most, but have been hurt so often that they are swiftly building a wall, so that another disappointment doesn’t come along and break their hearts. We have to patiently love them back, until they realize that the love they feel in our classrooms isn’t temporary. It’s not conditional. It’s dependable, and will be there no matter how hard they push back. Sometimes the children who hate our classrooms come back as adults to tell us they will never forget how we loved them.

  4. Wow!
    Because you care.
    Because you risk.
    Because you ask.
    And now because you are going to take action.
    Hat tip to you, Pernille. Always, Always, Always striving to meet the needs of your students! ❤

    1. Kristen Perkins, the very first sentence in your response resonated with me. This was exactly my thought. Hearing these words may well come from the mouths of those who value us the most, they are saying – I need you.

  5. Great post! Also know that Kids Do well if they Can. This is a quote by Dr. Ross Greene whom I see quite a lot in your philosophies of teaching. He says that as educators and parents, we need to find out what is getting in the kids way. Asking questions, listening, empathizing and then asking them to help come up with a plan. Collaboration. It’s pretty amazing! He is also against the punishments and reward systems etc.. You are doing a great job but sometimes it’s something that is getting in the child’s way that needs to be addressed and not necessarily your teaching method. They may be getting overwhelmed and what comes easily to one student may be extremely difficult for them. Other factors such as depression may also be in play. I’m sure you already know this though. Keep up the great work, you are a true inspiration !

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