Building a Good Relationship With Teachers
Parents will always want the very best for their kids at school and trust their teachers to do an excellent job. Occasionally, though, situations arise when we as parents have concerns with how our kids are being taught.
Perhaps you find the methods being used are questionable or too strict, or that an assigned book or movie watched in class is inappropriate for the age of your child.
If you are of a more reserved disposition yourself, talking to teachers can be quite a daunting experience, particularly if the teacher concerned has a reputation for being fierce!
If you are at the other end of the spectrum personality wise and tend to rush straight in and speak first then think afterwards, this can cause additional problems. Either way, in the back of your mind you are always going to be worried about being “that parent,” who gets accused of micromanaging the teacher.
So, how can you talk to teachers in a way that will ensure your child’s needs are being met while not offending their teaching? Here are a few steps to consider.
Initially Decide on the Severity of the Issue
Different issues require different levels of attention. For instance, if your issue is more general, such as you don’t feel you are getting enough input in the education of your child, this could be an issue to raise at the next parent/teacher conference.
At this point, the teacher can advise you on strategies that are already in place at the school or can develop a strategy with you one-on-one to meet your needs.
If the issue is one that your child has brought to your attention, ensure you get as much information as possible about the situation from your child first. This should enable you to decide whether or not the issue warrants involving the teacher, or if it something you can resolve with your child on your own.
If you do feel the teacher needs to be involved, and it is serious enough that it can’t wait until the next parent/teacher conference, make an appointment. Unless your issue is drastic, resist the temptation to go straight to the principle as this could potentially cause animosity between you and your child’s teacher.
You should also resist speaking to your child’s teacher on the playground, as although this might be the quickest way to deal with an issue, it more than likely isn’t the best way. For one the teacher is going to be distracted with supervising students and won’t be able to give you their full attention.
Secondly, there is a chance other parents will overhear your conversation. While it’s nice to think that everyone will respect the privacy of your conversation, this may not be the case.
To make an appointment, either pop into the reception or phone the school. Simply taking this step can sometimes be enough to convey the seriousness of the situation, prompting the teacher to be more receptive to discussing the matter with you in an open and productive manner.
Preparation Is Key!
Once you have made your appointment, gather all the information you need to raise beforehand. If you are worried you might be nervous in your meeting and forget some points, there is nothing wrong with taking a list of prepared bullet points in there with you.
You should also put some thought into how you are going to phrase things to ensure you are conveying the appropriate tone. It’s easy to inadvertently become defensive or accusatory when you are talking about something you care deeply about — which is bound to happen when it comes to your children.
If you have any ideas of how the issue could be resolved, don’t be afraid to put these forward. The teacher may even be very grateful for your input!
Be prepared that although in an ideal world your issue would immediately be put right, you may have to wait for results or arrange a follow up meeting to ensure the issues are being resolved. Try to remain as cool, calm and collected as possible.
You may also want to share different experiences your child may have had out of school that may be relevant to your issue. For instance, if your child is worried about going on a trip, it is worth sharing with their teacher that they are prone to being travel sick (as used to be the case with my own son).
Also, it may be relevant to point out positive things that have happened outside the classroom but could be loosely connected.
For instance, my other son once wrote a play in his spare time. When I told his teacher about it, she was thrilled to know he was using his recently gained literacy skills and actually took great enthusiasm in asking him to bring it in for her to see, which boosted both of their confidence levels.
While I actually didn’t need to raise any issues with her at that time, it set the foundations for me to approach her a lot more easily in the future!
If possible, try to think of ways you can become more involved with your child’s school as this could help you build up a successful relationship with their teachers. You may be able to help in some way by devoting time or resources to an out of school activity, for example, or by volunteering to help out at a school fair or field trip.
If the teachers know you well they are more likely to empathize with your concerns.
How Stuff Works (5 Things You Should Know: How to Talk to Your Child’s Teacher)