Improving Relationships with Teachers

Today's post is written for struggling high school students that are having re-occurring issues with their teachers resulting in poor academic performance.  Sometimes students have the belief that a particular teacher “hates me” or “has it out for me.”  It is imperative that this attitude is changed, if you should happen to have this belief.  Complete the ABCD Chart below.


In the space under A = Activating Event, write down the last time you observed your instructor doing something that you felt was unfair to you.  Examples could be marking down your paper for some reason, or making you do an extra assignment.

In the space under B = Beliefs about Event, write down your emotional reaction to the event.  What were your beliefs or interpretations you assigned to the event?  Did the teacher do this action to single you out?  Did they want to unfairly punish you?

In the space under C = Consequences, write down the consequences your belief about the event has resulted in.  Due to your belief about the event do you not participate in class discussion as much as you would if you liked the teacher? ? Does your belief about the event make you withdrawn in class or not want to work as hard?

At this point take a look over what you have written so far.  Do you see how the belief you have assigned to the activating event has resulted in negative consequences that likely hurt you much more than the teacher?  Do you want to continue this trend and continue punishing yourself?  If not, here is the alternative.

In the space under D = Disputes, write down as many alternative ways to think and feel about the event.  Even though right now you might not feel it’s true, is there any other way you could chose to think and feel about the event?  Remember, you are in control of your emotions and the meaning you assign to other’s actions.  No one can make you feel upset; you ultimately chose to feel upset based on your thought processes.

After all, isn’t it possible to laugh off an injury instead of being upset?  Have you ever told a joke that was taken in the wrong way?  Have you ever made a compliment to someone and they took offense at what you said?  Or, have you ever thought something was very funny that wasn’t supposed to be?  These are all examples of reacting to something based on our decision processes.

You don’t have to assign a negative meaning to your teacher’s actions towards you.  Some examples could be in reaction to receiving a bad grade could be:

  • My teacher recognized I didn’t put the effort into the assignment that I am capable of and graded the assignment accordingly.
  • I didn’t follow instructions like I should; I’ll pay more attention to the instructions next time.
  • I earned the poor grade and it’s nothing personal against me.  Besides, I didn’t get the lowest grade in the class.


It is imperative that you take responsibility for your relationship with your teacher, no matter how unfair you might feel they are towards you.  When you identify Disputes for your Beliefs about the Activating Event, write down how this might have changed the Consequences.