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This was a first and its all true!



In 25 years of teaching I thought I had heard or seen it all, but today brought a new first. I had an email this afternoon from a 9 year-old boy in my 4th grade class. He wrote that he was mad because he was always quiet and never misbehaved and informed me that I was going to have to figure out some way of making an exception when I have the class put their heads down when they are too noisy or dock them a minute recess time when they can't settle down. He said he knew I was trying to be as fair as possible but that sometimes "it wasn't good enough."
This afternoon, as a special treat, I did a math facts game where each correct answer got them a tiny Halloween trinket. I had four different types and said that I was going to do four rounds so that kids who had learned their facts well could win all four. The kids were pretty wound because this is our last day of school this week, my class sang at assembly this morning, and Halloween is Monday. They just could not be quiet during each other's turn, despite repeated stopping for them to settle back down, so after three rounds I cut it off, saying that we might pick it up again on Monday.
Well, this kid is livid. He said he and two others were quiet and therefore, to be fair, I should have allowed them to continue another round while the rest of the class watched. (I can't say I noticed anyone being anything that resembled quiet.) He said he would like to "sit down and discuss this with me."
He then went on to report misbehaviors that he had observed in class which he believed had escaped my notice. He said he had not shared this with me during school because his popularity would have slipped from "8 to 2" and people would be mad at him. He asked that when I dealt with these students he had reported, that I not mention his name.
This is a well-behvaed child and a good, but unmotivated, student. Not perfect, as he claims, but usually very compliant. I have a very young, noisy class this year so I have actually tried very hard to make sure to address individual behaviors rather than make sweeping statements about the class (except, of course, to praise.)
Apparently, the young prince thinks I haven't done enough. This is a child with a very elevated sense of importance, but it does take quite an ego to think it approrpriate to address any adult like that. I'm sure his mother told him that if he had issues he should write to me and address them. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. This kind of communication from a parent is irritating enought - but now from a child? Oh, my.


Senior Member
Are you sure?

Being a fourth grade teacher myself I have to say I was surprised by this. I am wondering, though, if maybe the email was typed by a parent and sent on behalf of this child. Personally, I work with kids who have extremely overindulgent parents and would not think this type of communication with a teacher was inappropriate. I ask because some of the language and wording seems pretty mature. I would probably call home and try to feel out the situation. And while I don't think the child has a valid argument I do think you should probably have a discussion with him regarding the email. I think kids need to be taught early that email is not a substitute for real communication. If he has a "problem" with you, he needs to address it face to face.


Senior Member

I agree that it is weird and a bit rude, but not many 4th graders have really built up their social skills yet. I am impressed that this child was feeling so overwhelmed that he decided to express himself with writing. Not many kids express themselves in writing and boys seem to particularly have trouble expressing their feelings at all. While the voice and tone of the letter wasn't all you would hope, I would treat this child with respect for expressing his opinion. After all, you may not like it, but this is truely the kids' opinion and perspective of the classroom. Perhaps after you have a discussion with him, he will understand your point of view.

Way to go, kid. Keep writing!


Full Member
I disagree

I think it is completely inappropriate and rude! If that child has a concern, then he needs to tell his parents and his parents need to contact the teacher for a conference. I would never let a child get away with speaking to me, or any other adult for that matter, in that way! No wonder the kids don't respect us and our decisions anymore. Because people let them get away with things like this!

I would definitely call home and set up a conference with the parent to solve what the problem is, and lightly explain to the child that it is not his place to address an issue like this with you.

I had a middle school brother come into my 3rd grade class and question what I was doing - I told him if he has a problem then he needs to let his mother know and she can address it with me.



I find that strange. I personally am insulted when parents question what I do in my classroom. Or worse yet, make suggestions concerning how I should do things. They don't have professional training or years of experience in education. I certainly would not give in to a 9 year old kid with a superiority "thing." I have one of those this year in my fourth grade class. The last thing I would do is feed the fire by actually doing things his way rather than my own. I would make it a point to let him know that he is the kid and you are the professionally trained adult. You don't owe him an explanation of why you do things the way you do. He doesn't have to like or understand your methods.

He probably is getting ideas from his parents. Why do people with zero experience in education feel like they have the right to tell us what/how to do? I don't tell my doctor, banker, lawyer, plumber, or even grocery store check out girl how to do their jobs. Why do people do that to us? Don't let a kid do it to you. If you talk to him about it, make it a point to let him know right at the beginning of the conversation that you aren't talking to him as an "equal." He apparently has been trained by his parents to think that he is. Make your authority known. You may have to go to the root of the problem and make the parents aware of your authority as well.

Just my opinion. Just like noses, we all have one.


Senior Member
Similar instance

A child at my school behaves in a similar way, but she speaks up to question or correct the teacher right in class. The two stories that teachers told me about this week (she is on another team of teachers in the same grade I teach) were:

1. In history class, the teacher opened class with some lighthearted talk of the World Series Chicago White Sox and their "curse" finally ended. This student spoke up and said, "Mr. O, aren't we supposed to be focusing on history class right now instead of baseball?"

2. In an extension reading class, all 6th grade teachers were showing an anti-drug video (it was Red Ribbon Week for drug abuse prevention). This student spoke up and said, "Mrs. H, do you really think that watching this video is worth skipping a reading class?"

This boggles my mind. 11 years old and they question the teacher?? Is it a new trend or am I missing something?


impertinent kid!


I would make a general announcement to the class:

"Class, it has come to my attention through an email from one of your fellow students who does not want to be idenified that the class's behavior needs some adjustments. He noted that I have not seen and/or heard all of the specific problem behaviors and this is causing this student some upset and anger. So, for a quick writing assignment, I am going to have everyone write a ten minute totally confidential essay naming names of anyone who has ever misbehaved and you are pretty sure I did not notice or they got away with something. Go!" "Alright, I have these essays in my hand and I haven't looked at them. How did it make you feel?" Suggest that you imagine a few of them already regret what they wrote and wish they hadn't. Explore the negative emotions and haughty attitudes that come from this type of behavior. Start exploring that tattle tales and snitches are sort of like repressive societies like Communist China or the Nazis. Tell them you are going to throw them away and then do it.

I bet a parent's directives were behind that email. Encourage any children who have issues to talk to you face to face. People who can't really shouldn't be listened to. They are cowards.


Senior Member

Today I decided I was having "One of THOSE weeks", then I read your letter. I am SO GLAD I teach first.

Good luck with the young prince.:D


Hmmm ...

Well, this boy definitely has a set of "brass ones," but ... I don't think I would waste my time being that upset over it. I know if I received an email like that from one of my students (which I wouldn't, because they're 7), I would be baffled, show it to my husband who would laugh like crazy, and then I would involve the guidance counselor or principal on how to proceed. This child was rude, but, he's 9 - he is only just beginning to learn to navigate his way through the world of communication. I have to give him his props for sending the email - although I can definitely see where you would be taken aback.

I respectfully agree w/ ConnieG's suggestion because they are fourth graders. If this was a tenth grade class, you would handle it differently. I don't think it would be appropriate to humiliate the child or involve the class. It's also not a good use of learning time.

I am intrigued by this!! Could you let us know what happens??

And ... it sounds like you are a great teacher!


Senior Member
First class grade A snot

I agree with the poster who thinks it was written by an adult who was pretending to be the kid. Either that or the mother told the kid what to say. What a pain in the neck. I can deal well with most kinds of kids but the ones who irritate me the most are the ones who think it is their job to report to you what others are doing. " Ms. So and So, Anthony and Kyle were talking in the hallway when you told us not to." What an obnoxious snot.

Carrie in WV

Full Member
Oh, wow!

This would totally get my goat! I agree with others that this sounds like mommy in the background. Nevertheless, this is your classroom; not his.

I absolutely cannot stand to hear a parent or child say, "So-and-So was doing this right under your nose..." What in the world? Do they think that we stay at home rubbing our hands together saying, "What can I do today to make "child x" absolutely miserable today...insert evil laugh here." If parents and kids only had 1/2 the knowledge of how much we work ourselves crazy for them...


So what, exactly, should the kid do?

He apparently behaved the way he was supposed to and got punished for it.

This child didn't complain to his fellow students, go to the principal, or ask Mom and Dad to intercede. Instead he wrote you a relatively respectful email asking you to sit down and discuss his concerns.

I think you owe it to the boy to discuss the situation with him. What's more, I think you ought to stop punishing the innocent along with the guilty.

apple annie

Senior Member
She OWES it to the boy???

In response to Janet:

What should he have done? How about the same thing the rest of the class (hopefully) did - accept the consequences, punishment, life 's circumstances or whatever, and go on about the business of being a student, and not a teacher critic ....?

I usually have two or three kids every year who have just never learned to accept "NO" or to accept consequneces, punishments, assignments, rewards, etc, as they are disbursed. They always have an alternative in mind. This is probably the same kid who says:

"Why do we have to write the question?"
"But I wanted the vanilla cupcake."
"But I already know how to ____________________."
"I know it's PG, but it's only for violence."
"But that rule is stupid."
"But I don't need to write my homework assignment. I can remember it."
"Can't I have silent lunch instead of detention?"

Shall I go on??

My response would be to TOTALLY ignore his e-mail. And wait for him to have the nerve to approach me face to face. And IF he does, remind him whose classroom it is. He (or perhaps his parent) sounds like a manipulator.


New Member
Not about the individual...

In response to Janet...

One thing students need to understand is that they are not the only person in a classroom. Teachers often have 20 to 30 other students that they are responsible for. If this little boy is as unhappy with the way the class is behaving AND has such a high popularity rating (8 as mentioned in his email) then he should be using his powers for good. Tell a neighbor to shhh when the teacher is trying to get the class attention. In fact, the teacher could reward students who politely and respectfully "influence" class behavior.

When I was visiting my hometown for the holidays I recieved the okay from my younger sister's teachers to shadow her for the day. My sister's math class was a bit disruptive as the teacher was giving instructions for a test. To get their attention she gave a prearranged signal. (She raised her hand with 5 fingers up. She slowly lowered one finger at a time until the students quieted down. When they noticed, they put their fingers up and counted down with her.) Most of the class was quiet and together by 3. Those that weren't were quickly corrected by those around them. No one was offended by the corrections and the class proceeded smoothly.

The point of this is, as a teacher it is NOT possible to individualize punishments, no matter what grade they are teaching. And, the email that was sent to the teacher was NOT respectfully in anyway. The respectful thing would have been to go to the teacher and say that he wasn't happy and wanted to talk to her or he could have talked to his parents. It is never okay to speak to an adult that way.