Your teen hates a teacher and therefore feels it’s okay to do poorly in a class. For a teen, this can be a justifiable excuse. It’s important to help your teen re-think this type of reasoning since it doesn’t allow them to develop the life skill of taking responsibility for their actions.
Doing poorly because you hate your teacher is a very bad excuse although, who among us hasn’t understood that we rise to the occasion when inspired by our mentors and leaders? When uninspired, your teen’s negative view of the teacher can be turned inward to negative feelings about themselves. This can evolve into a desire to distance themselves from both the teacher and the class, which results in poor performance. This is all in an attempt to distance themselves from the negative feelings the class makes them have about themselves. Your teen can feel powerless against these feelings and this is where they can use your help to feel empowered again.
If you have a teen in this situation these are some things you can do to help your teen feel more connected and empowered:
If at all possible have your teen arrange a conference with the teacher. There, they can discuss how they feel in the class environment. This is best when initiated and managed by your teen with you there for support and minimal talking, which would deny your teen the mastery of this moment and ownership of the success or failure of the interaction.
2. A tutor
A tutor who is older or in college may be able to explain the information in a more hip and relevant way, connect better with your teen, or be someone your teen looks up to so much that they want to please them while ultimately pleasing themselves.
Ask your teen, “Can you think about what your role in the teacher interaction might be? For example, do you arrive to class late? Do you disrupt the teacher in class with private conversations?” No teacher is going to respect a student with this type of classroom behavior. Try and tie this in to the adult expectations in the “real world.” This is going to be an ongoing theme in their life, understanding their role in a negative social interaction empowers them to change certain behaviors. This is what socializing is all about. Not waiting for the other person, but taking responsibility for how we effect others. Your teen can always choose to change their environment. This is a life lesson and a skill worth practicing a lot.
Your teen has a right to dislike their teacher, but using it as an excuse is not okay. Asking questions in a nonjudgmental and supportive way, models compassion for your teen while gently asking them to grow up. No situation is perfect and if they are not being threatened or harrassed in class, they can change the environment and focus their energy on personal ability and success rather than passive aggressive behavior towards a teacher.