This Teacher Doesn't Like Me!

Question: I am a senior, and I am having problems with my AP teacher. My relationship with this teacher is really bad. I have been depressed since last semester, and I was late and absent to the class many times. So I sincerely apologized to the teacher that I was late and absent many times and asked him if he can understand me better because I was so depressed last semester. But, he does not understand me. Even though he knows I am depressed, he just reprimands me and always picks on me in the class, He became very biased toward me. I disputed with him a lot. He sent my counselor email that I am disrespectful to him.

Would this teacher send to the college I applied about how I do in his class to hurt my chance to college? Would this happen? I am really worried about this. I am waiting for the decision, and that college is my first choice. Would the teacher send email to the college to hurt my chances?

Also, do counselors write bad things about a student? I am concerned because my AP teacher sent email to my counselor saying I am disrespectful, and I have had some problems with other teachers as well. Would counselor write negative recommendation about me?

Teachers are not supposed to pick favorites … or least favorites. But, since we all know that some teachers have “pets," it's inevitable that some have “pet peeves" as well. This can mean that they may not treat all of their pupils equally … or even fairly. In many cases, the student has clearly prompted the teacher's ill feelings but, in other cases, it can be harder to ferret out the reasons behind a teacher's apparent annoyance. So, whenever a student senses that he or she is not liked by a teacher, the next steps can be tricky. Most teenagers are wary of doing anything that might anger the teacher and make the situation even worse. But, on the other hand, letting the conflict fester is unwise as well.

So here are a few suggestions for you:

  1. Write a letter to your AP teacher. Don't mention anything about the fact that you feel that he picks on you. Simply say that you think that the two of you seem to have “gotten off on the wrong foot" so you want to apologize (again) for any problems you've caused by your tardiness and absences and for any disrespect that he construes from your behavior. Explain that you have been suffering from depression (even if you're sure he already knows). If you are being treated for this depression by a professional, be sure to say this as well. It will make your claim sound “legitimate." (And if you are NOT being treated, then you SHOULD be. Speak to your parents, if possible, about getting outside help or talk to your school counselor or school psychologist, if there is one. If your depression is serious enough that it's affecting your school work, you ought to seek help for it.) In your letter, also ask the teacher if he would like to meet with you in person to discuss ways that you can improve your performance in his class and to make amends for his current view of you.
  1. Tell your counselor that you have written this letter. Since the teacher has told the counselor about your alleged disrespect, it is important for you to show your counselor that you are facing this issue and are concerned about it. Meanwhile, you must make every possible effort to attend this class regularly and to arrive on time.
  1. Wait for a response. If there is NO response from the teacher and you see no change in the way he treats you, then it's time to speak to your counselor again and set up a meeting between the counselor, the teacher, your parents and maybe the school psychologist.

It is highly unlikely that this teacher will contact your target colleges directly, and it is also unlikely that the comments he made to your counselor in his email will be relayed to the colleges. But since you say that you have had problems with other teachers as well, then it's possible that the counselor did mention this pattern in the letter of reference. During the course of a four-year high school career, it's common for students to get along well with some teachers and less well with others. But when there are multiple problems with different teachers, this can be a flag that the student needs help. So do what you can to salvage the remaining months with this AP teacher but, at the same time, seek assistance with your depression—if you have not already done so—and address the fact that you have had conflicts with more than one teacher. Transitioning to college can be a challenge for everyone, and you want to put yourself in the strongest possible position to take it on.

Best wishes as you proceed.