Q: I don’t think my algebra teacher likes me. What should I do?
A: Hmm. Bring her some π ? (Just kidding.) It’s nice to be liked, and to feel liked but the most important part of your relationship with your teacher is that it is a mutually respectful one and that you are learning. You should feel comfortable approaching your teacher for help and asking the questions you need to ask. If that is not happening, it can seriously affect your ability to master the material. Let’s build on that. Both you and your teacher have the same goal– for you to succeed in the classroom. And that goal is the common ground from which you can build a respectful and successful relationship.
With your learning set as the priority, re-assess the situation. What makes you think your teacher dislikes you? For example, if you think your teacher doesn’t like you because she doesn’t laugh at your jokes then it’s possible that she is serious minded about math and wants to model that to you. If you think she doesn’t like you because you are earning low grades then you are lucky it’s a math class– it’s hard to give someone poor grades in a math class due to dislike. (Again, kidding.) It’s easy to confuse evaluation of grades with evaluation of you as a person, but it’s important for your self-esteem and peace of mind to understand that a C grade does not make you a C person. Not in your teachers’ eyes, and hopefully not in your own. A “C” grade means average performance on an assignment. That is all. We learn from that. But it is neither a reflection of who we are nor an indication of how our teacher feels about us.
Teachers have different styles of classroom management and it could be that your teacher’s style and your learning style are not a good fit. That sometimes happens, and it’s important to acknowledge it and move on to make the best of it. Good teachers realize that students have different needs, and if you can diplomatically address that with your teacher, she will appreciate it and respect you for it.
For example, “I never understand what you are talking about,” is less helpful than, “I’m having trouble keeping up with note taking in class. Are there notes online, or could you recommend a student I could study with?” Or, “Hey, did I miss anything when I was absent?” is less helpful than, “I’m sorry I had to miss class yesterday. I got the assignment from a classmate, but still have some questions. Is there a convenient time for us to meet to discuss them?” It may be that it just requires some thought and attention to match your communication styles so that you connect.
Of course teachers, like real people, have likes and dislikes, and it is possible that your teacher doesn’t like you. Though I think that is unlikely, there is still a valuable opportunity for you if this is true. The class will not go on forever. It’s your education, and your future. Here’s your chance to figure out how to make it happen with some adversity in play. If it is a situation that actively interferes with learning, you should talk to your guidance counselor or someone in student services about how to approach the situation. If it something more subtle, then consider your options in light of your goals in the classroom.
To be clear, you should never be belittled or bullied in the classroom. It is never okay to be unfairly treated. But it is not always possible, or necessary, to be liked. Learning to be successful and work constructively with different personalities will make you a more successful person. And I would not be surprised if you don’t win that teacher over in the process.