Our teachers work very hard. They have their own lives but give so much of themselves to our children all week long.
Inevitably, the time comes for us to have a talk with our child's teacher. We may have questions, there might be a problem in the classroom, or we may simply want to get a live progress report about our child(ren).
I also know that sometimes we are a bit frustrated. Maybe things aren't going as well as we'd like, even though school just started. Maybe our child is struggling and we need to connect with the teacher about solving the problem.
Regardless of our reason for approaching the teacher, there are some best practices for doing so.
Choose your channel - of communication, that is. Generally this will be email or face-to-face. Email is best for direct question/answer issues. For instance, "Jose says that there is no homework this weekend, and I don't see any listed on the website. I thought you were going to assign math over the weekend so I want to be sure there really isn't any math this weekend." Other concerns - behavioral, grades, goal setting - should be handled face to face (whether in the classroom or via zoom).
If you are going to meet with your teacher live, schedule an appointment. Drop off and pick up lines are NOT parent-teacher conference times.
Once you meet with the teacher, honor his/her time and stay focused. Come prepared with your questions or concerns. If you have specific expectations for a solution, be clear about those, as well.
Keep your cool. Nothing gets resolved with tempers flaring.
Be respectful. Our teachers deal with a lot of children and parents They have a VERY difficult job, especially since 2020. Respect that they are doing the best they can and truly do want your child to succeed.
Be positive. Even if the teacher is doing something you don't like, don't accuse. Assume the best about his/her intentions. You can be sure they really do want the best for all students in the class, even if you aren't happy with how a situation is being handled.
Remember you're a team. Parents and teachers are on the same side, working for the same goal. Work together!
They are the expert. You are going to them for help. They are not your servant. Trust them to know what works well in the classroom, even if you are asking for some small changes. Take time to understand his/her perspective and reasons for doing what they do. Remember, sometimes a sacrifice of perfect for one is worth the overall good for everyone. We know our children best, but we also aren't in the classroom with everyone during the day. Our kids will not always like how teachers do things. It's a good life lesson. Trust the expert in the classroom.
Ask questions. Don't just assume the report you get from your baby is how the teacher perceives it. As with most conflict, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Ask what happened, why the teacher thinks it happened, and what the plan is for resolving the issue.
Be specific about your concerns. Instead of "I think Analise is having trouble in class" (pretty vague) try something like, "I know Analise is thrilled her best friend is in class with her, but I think sitting next to each other is proving to be a big distraction for Analise. Can we move her to a different seating area?" When you are specific about your concern and provide a potential solution, you are being proactive.
Teachers, what other suggestions would you make for parents? (scroll to the very bottom for comments area)
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