Back To School Worries: Will I Get A Mean Teacher

One minute after my two sons hugged last year’s teachers good-bye, they began to stress out over what next year’s teachers would be like. All summer long they’ve been asking, “What if I get a really mean teacher that doesn’t like me?”

There must be a back-to-school rule that no matter what every kid has to worry about getting a mean teacher.

For example, every August I’d happily go back-to-school shopping with my parents. But not even a new pair of jeans, a Trapper Keeper, or a box of my favorite Dixon Ticonderoga pencils could keep me from fretting over whether the new school year would bring a teacher spawned from the right hand of Satan.

Even if I knew the name of my new teacher, I worried. Even if he or she had passed me in the hallway and said, “I can’t wait to have you in my class next year!” I was convinced a transformation into the Teacher From Hell would occur.

It’s like I thought summer’s heat would cause my teacher to grow nose warts, develop a fondness for assigning detention, and worst of all, they’d take up wearing polyester pants!

My fourth grade teacher, Sister Paula, had a huge wart. But things never got any worse than her declaring to the entire class that I had the worst handwriting she’d ever seen, which was probably true.

Mr. Pappi loved polyester pants, but he liked to laugh and I learned tons about U.S. history. And Mr. Stallworth gave detention to anyone who didn’t do their homework, but I always did mine, so he never gave detention to me.

I tell my sons the same thing that my parents told me: If any teacher ever tries to hit you, calls you a name or humiliates you in class, let me know and I’ll deal with it, pronto. But if you are a good student and try your best, you usually don’t have to worry about your teacher being mean or not liking you. (And if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, when you get home, I’ll be “mean” to you!)

Does this mean my boys stop worrying about next year’s teacher? No, not really. But at least I know their worrying is just a natural part of going back-to-school!

Lots of us are gearing up for school – an exciting, fun and sometimes, hectic time. Hallmark has put together this great resource to help you calm the butterflies and build your kids’ confidence. Just for joining the conversation you’ll be entered to win $500. Check it out.

Need a little extra cash for school clothes? Or do you need a spa day to help you de-stress after getting your kids ready for back to school?

You can ALSO win a $100 Visa gift card courtesy of Divine Caroline and yours truly, Los Angelista! Just leave me a comment describing your biggest back to school worry. You must live in the United States and you must leave your comment by 11:59 PM PST on Sunday, August 9, 2009!

Good luck!


Daniel said…
Los Angelista,
Glad you made it home ok, you and the little guys. Also very happy for you on the life-significant happenings with your family. Redemption and forgiveness; hardly anything in life cleanses the soul like that.
Now, about Back to School shopping. Ever thought about being a clueless Dad and looking at all the “Hoochy-momma” outfits my teenage girl keeps pulling off the racks?! I swear one day we gonna go toe-to-toe right in some isle in a ‘fashion boutique’ outlet. (I’d surely lose too; I can’t hit females. No matter what they do. Just not right.). No matter how many times I go over it beforehand, about what I’ll allow, what’s appropriate an’ all, when we get there, she thinks public pressure, endless complaining about my fashion cluelessness and such will make me compromise. AARRRGGG!
“Spa de-stress day”?! Heck I need a LIFE de-stress from this last go-round.
Jameil said…
Now that I'm a grad student, my biggest back to school worry is just finishing! And that's not really a worry, it's excitement that I'm on my way to my dream!! Back then I used to worry that I wouldn't know anyone in my classes. My teachers always liked me. I loved school. I was more concerned about the social stuff. So me, right? Lol. The first time I was ever ready to be done with school was the end of my senior year in college.
Lotus Flower said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lotus Flower said…
Ah, yes those were the days...I remember my fourth grade teacher from hell Mrs. in your face one minute then curse you out the next...she's actually been reported to the department quite a few times..and she STILL hasn't gotten fired! Your kiddos will hopefully win their teachers over with their charm, Liz.

Wouldn't it be nice if elementary school kids had their version of I think high school kids have their own version now...if only I had it in h.s...
Anne said…
I remember worrying the summer before junior high that my coat wouldn't fit in my locker. And I worried that I couldn't figure out the combination lock. Can you believe it? I also used to worry that we'd have to dissect something in biology class. One year we dissected a cow heart, it was absolutely disgusting! Gym class brought its own worries, I'd worry about jumping over the "horse". It's a wonder I made it through, ha ha!
In junior high school, I worried that nobody would like me and I would have to eat lunch alone, a pariah among my peers. (This never happened.) But to this day, I have a recurring dream that I am in a huge, multi-storied maze of a school and I wander around forever, unable to find my classroom.

I hope your boys get delightful teachers who really love children.
Phi Sister said…
My biggest back to school worry is the fact that after a 1 1/2 year break from undergraduate school and not being able to find a career I am going to be entering law school and I don't fully know what to expect and am concerned about how well I will do academically.

I have been working hard to prepare myself mentally and get back into work mode. In fact, I was accepted into and just completed a program for underprivileged and minority students in L.A. But since law school is a whole new ballgame and everything is waiting to be sorted out I'm not sure how we'll I'll do or how well I'm prepared.

I have to secure another loan to ensure that all of these incoming expenses are covered. I don't have any new clothes and I just went up an entire pants size! So that is just adding to the pile of troubles. I am going to give everything my best effort and pray for the best. I'm sure that everything will go well for both myself and your sons!
nick said…
Luckily I never had any mean teachers so never worried about the possibility. But then I went to two independent schools so maybe all the tyrants ended up in the state schools! My primary school headmaster did sometimes give me six of the best though - for not knowing important historical dates!

Good for you telling your boys they'll get your full support if they DO get a mean teacher.
Jennifer said…
My biggest back to school worry for my kids is that they will be bullied. My oldest son has been bullied in the past and it hurts me a lot, so I always worry about that!
Thanks for the chance!

jls_wss2003 at yahoo dot com
Nerd Girl said…
My biggest back to school worry when I was a kid? That the other girls would have once again developed at a faster rate than did I. And they did. Every single year!

My biggest back to school worry for my girl? That I've made a mistake by keeping her at her current preschool.
1969 said…
Glad you are back safe and sound.

My favorite back to school memory?

I remember stressing for an entire summer that all the girls would have bras and I wouldn't.

I stressed my mom out all summer asking her to buy me one. She kept saying "YOU DON'T EVEN NEED ONE YET" and then asked my father who had the nerve to AGREE. LOL

Ahh....back to school!
Keitha said…
When I was a kid, I worried about whether or not my friends would be in my class or if I would at least know anyone if my class to talk to

email:keithadanielle AT yahoo DOT com
Call Family said…
It's a teacher union negotiation year for me this year so I have a slew of things stressing me out (although, I am thankful I even have a job). Besides that, at the start of every school year I have a recurring dream that I wake up late and the students arrive to class to find no teacher and basically go bananas.
Jen said…
My biggest back to school worry is of a different nature entirely - in my discussion-based classes, will I have students who will actually TALK? That may seem stupid, but it's always my biggest fear.
Unknown said…
My biggest worry was always having to sit alone with no one to talk to at lunch. Surprisingly, it's my daughter's biggest fear too. She starts junior high this year and all her elementary friends are splitting up to different junior highs. She's nervous and as much as I try to reassure her everyone is in the same boat, it doesn't totally relieve her fear.

I think it's just that first week that makes everything so scary: friends, new teachers, finding your way around a new school, will I remember my locker combination or be the freak that has to have the janitor cut off her lock (that was me and I lived through it).

shel704 at aol dot com
pickleberries said…
My biggest worry is whether or not the outstanding arts integration school that my daughter goes to will continue to remain open from year to year. It is a consortium of 10 school districts begun in an effort to racially integrate the inner city and the burbs. It has been HIGHLY successful on so many levels and award winning too, but the districts involved have egg on their faces because they have not been. Every year we go through districts threatening to pull the plug. My child has 2 more years, she'll finish there in 8th grade, but it needs to be there for all those other younger kids who have struggled academically like she used to before finding her bliss at FAIR School.
Anonymous said…
i always worried i would not remember names.
My son loves school (thankfully) but he's a Chatty Patty. I worry that he'll be labeled as a trouble maker. I also worry that, as an only child, he doesn't have good conflict resolution skills. I don't want him picking or getting into fights, but I don't want him to be a doormat either now that he's mixed in with the older kids.
Steph said…
My worry for my kids going to school is who they will be influenced by. It's hard to watch your kids go out into the world and into situations that are sometimes out of your control.
Hi Los Angelista!

I'd have to say that my biggest back to school worry (for me; I know my kids will be fine)is knowing that I won't have the little ones to use as an excuse; the oh so common, "The kids are here, calm down" know what I mean. Those "after noon frenzy's" that most husbands feel they have when the kids are out of the house. It's a good thing (the first couple of days), don't get me wrong, but, well, you know what I mean don't you? The kids are out of the house, the hubby knows he's got an ample amount of time to get friendly with his wife and then they're off and running...DAILY!!!

At least when the kids are home, Hubby's got no choice but to leave the nest and W-O-R-K!!!

LOL- hope someone got a chuckle out of this true ordeal!!!
-barbarabaker :)
Unknown said…
Such a great post topic, BUT where did summer go??? IG!

My biggest back to school worries are that my boy is now a man.

Entering 8th grade, he has begun the challenges of being a colored teen male in Chicago. I must give him certain freedom and pray that the coaching and survival counseling will stick~if it doesn't he may end up in another world. I also worry because he is worrying about H.S. choices, money woes and which sports to choose...Ah, life, right??
Lucrecer said…
Biggest worry for me is that I don't worry about my kids first day. Usually, all is fine, but I can not help but think about them.
Unknown said…
Well, my son is not ready for back to school yet. On the other hand, since he has been out of daycare for 3 weeks I am concerned. What if he really hates being back there? I don't even know what I can do to prep him. Maybe I will just keep him home with me.
Susan said…
My biggest back to school worry is that my college age daughter will decide NOT to go back to school for her freshman year, and that she will spend time floundering and struggling. So different from the kindergarten aged worries.

I also worry that not enough people will sign up for the writing workshop I'm teaching.
Cyndee said…
My biggest back to school worry is being able to suceed after being away for so long. Registered last week for three classes. Just worried w/a full time job and a part time job if I'll be able to juggle all that and still have time to be a wife and a mother.
Adrienne said…
My bigggest back to school worry is that it is my GRAND daughter that will be starting school this fall. When did I get this old?
Carolyn G said…
I am going back to school to take some classes and I graduated in 1994. My biggest fear is just being able to get back into the groove of going to classes again. It's going to tough to get back into the mindset of actually studying and not working. Also will I be able to transition back to being a student. We'll see how it goes.
Gayatri Sethi said…
MY biggest back to school worry? And this is funny -- will child no. 2 who is signed up for one of those 2 and half and potty trained Montessori schools where the 5 y.o. goes -- be potty trained in time? Answer: NO! So, when she can cross that milestone, she can go (back) to school!! Ok, seriously -- will I be able to juggle both kids school schedules, after school activities (a whole plethora of them) and still be half-way sane? Coz sanity is not attainable.
Lenina said…
I don't have any kids, but when I was one I don't remember worrying about getting a mean teacher. It was too late, when my 3rd grade teacher turned out to be a psychotic kid hater who used to beat and humiliate the poor kids.
I'm glad things have changed, although, coming from a family of teachers I've surely seen some kids taking advantage of misunderstood children's rights and they abuse their teachers instead. It's so hard to 'get the balance right'.
Being an adult student I also met horrible teachers who wouldn't want you to learn, they wouldn't want to share their knowledge, they wouldn't care about students at all. And there are amazing teachers who can't seem to get those jobs because of *cough* corruption.
My 2 cents from south of the border!
sweatpantsmom said…
My youngest will be starting middle school in September. Add to that the fact that it's a performing arts school with a bunch of kids from Hollywood and lots of stage parents, and let's just say my worries are too many to fit in this little box.

But I guess if I had to pick one it would be that she survives the slings and arrows that starting off in a new school brings. Friends (especially girls) can be cruel, teachers can be unfair, lockers can jam. I just hope she takes it all in stride.
Elita said…
My biggest back-to-school worry is getting out of the house on time. Daddy is a teacher and it's a struggle to get ready, walk the dog, get the baby ready and all get out the door by 7:15!
Unknown said…
Awww Liz can I first say I love following you on twitter and reading your blog! When u @reply me, I feel like were really friends!!! Hahha

Ok my biggest worry about going back to school is that after taking two years off due to having to leave Howard my senior year because of financial issues and giving birth to my daughter I am returning back to complete my bachelor's degree! I'm nervous about starting again and afraid that I'll be so busy I may be too tired to be a great mom. In the end I know that I am doing what I need to do to be the best mother I can be. Thanks again! From one LA mom to another Leslie
Anonymous said…
My biggest back to school worry was if I would be able to continue learning. I was always frightened that I'd "lost it" while on break and wouldn't be able to keep up with my peers the next year.
My biggest back to school worry is that I won't have everything done for the incoming freshmen in my residence hall! There is so much to do and so little time; like my first year teaching, the learning curve is going to be very steep.
My 2nd worry is for John Liechty Middle School, because of LAUSD's bull****, my former coworkers and former students are goin through it, and it does not look pretty at all, my heart goes out to the new middle school "that could" downtown Los Angeles.
Jessalyn said…
My family moved a lot when I was a kid, so I was always worried about making new friends in each new school. I was quite shy as a child, but I always lucked out that people were always intrigued by the new kid.
JP said…
I've always been worried, even now that I'm out of school (and just keeping the boyfriend sane while he's chugging through his last year), of failing.

Sounds crazy when I'm not in school, right? Well, hear me out: I always used to have dreams of flunking classes, the basic, when i was in school. Not a problem, everyone does! But since I've finished, they've gotten worse.

... yep, the lovely "going to school naked" dreams. I always manage through, but I swear, my subconscious hates me!

jodifur said…
We are moving at the beginning of the school year, and Michael is changing schools, and it just a lot for a 4 year old. I am worried about him dealing with all the transitions.
My 4.75-year-old daughter starts kindergarten in 2 weeks! And just an hour ago, apropos of nothing, she came into the living room, tears streaming down her face, because she misses her preschool of 1.5 years. No friends from there will be going with her to her new school. But she's resilient and friendly, and I know she'll make new friends. My biggest worry is connected to this. After over a year, just last month, an assistant teacher asked me if she talks at home. Though she's gotten better, she still totally freezes up when teachers (and it's almost always just teachers) ask her direct questions. She's smart, inquisitive, funny, and already reading--but a teacher asks her a yes-no question and she'll just stare, or maybe shrug. So I'm scared to death that the teacher, in a busy urban public kindergarten class, will just write her off as that quiet Asian girl and never know what she knows or doesn't know because she doesn't respond well in that kind of evaluative situation. I want my rambunctious, loud, effervescent baby to find her voice in all situations, especially ones with authority figures, and I don't know how to help her do it.
Ingrid said…
My biggest "worry" is not a typical "back to school" worry as it is an overall looming worry pertaining to this painful transitional phase of my life. I worry that this unwanted "full-time unemployment" phase I'm in will never end, which makes me a nervous insomniac because I'm already dependant on so many friends for shelter, food & transportation. Its embarassing but there it is.

So I can forget about the certification I was planning on taking last fall until someone grants me a mercy and gives me a job. So I guess that's my biggest back to school worry; that the way this job market is going, I'll never get back to school at all. :-(
jamaise said…
My oldest is returning to school after 3 years of being home schooled. Math has been a constant struggle both for me teaching him and him learning. Quite honestly, I think I've failed him in Math.
He's going back because he feels that High School is an important part of one's life. I have to respect his feelings on his education.
Although I think I've done a fine job in the other subjects, I still worry that maybe I haven't. My biggest worry is how he will handle re-entering & how we will have to deal with the problem with Math.
I keeps me up at night.
Ms Angela said…
Back to school was a nightmare for me growing because as an Air Force brat, I rarely went to the same school for longer than two years. My siblings and I were always the "new kids on the block", and no matter how many times I went through the routine, it was still terrifying. It wasn't the teachers. It was the other kids. We weren't always fortunate enough to be assigned to places that welcomed black kids to their schools.

Back to school for me as an adult wasn't much better. I hate shopping unless it's in a bookstore. Clothes shopping with my two daughters was a nerve-wracking, mind-shattering experience. (Nooooo...that's ugly!)

After a few years of that, I gave up. I told the kids to pick out their own clothes, and I paid for them. I didn't even bother to check them over. It taught them a lesson when they bought clothes that were "cute", but poorly made. Now, as adults, they can go to a thrift store and easily locate clothes of high quality.And my Mom thought I was making a mistake by refusing to micro-manage school shopping!

The best part: during my kids' middle and high school years, I didn't have to put up with the pouting and arguing! I found a chair to sit in and read a book while they shopped!
Kim Moldofsky said…
Ugh. We are still trying to figure out placement issues for my oldest son. I think I'm more worried than he is. Worried that he won't be challenged or that he will be teased for being a little different.

I love your advice on mean teachers and will be recycling that soon.

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