Now that we are all in back to school swing, I know that many parents are considering meeting with their child's teacher. Parents can have a variety of reasons for wanting to meet with the teacher. Those may include general introductions, to provide more information about their child, concerns over the way the school year has begun, as well as many other valid topics.
I thought I would share a few tips for parents to help you communicate effectively with your child's teacher should you wish to do so.
*Schedule an appointment. Nothing is worse as a teacher than a parent "dropping by" before or after school, or during a break time for an impromptu conference. Try to be respectful of the teacher's limited time and not catch her by surprise when she may or may have time to adequately address your concerns.
*Stay positive. While it can seem difficult in the moment, your child's teacher can't be doing everything wrong. Try to be positive when you can be, and recognize the efforts that your child's teacher is making. It is helpful to start every conference by telling the teacher the things that you see him doing that are working that you appreciate. Your teacher will be more likely to listen to what suggestions or concerns you have if they do not feel as though they are being attacked.
*Be willing to do your part. If you are going to ask for changes or accommodations, make sure you are willing to support them at home. Teachers can feel very burdened by the amount of work they are already doing, and some quite honestly find it challenging to add one more thing to an already full plate. Make sure that they know you are willing to work together with them, and will support them from the home front.
*Bring Examples. If you are going to present specific concerns over your child's work or performances, try to bring examples. For example, if your child has already covered material being presented in class, try to bring sample tests or work from the previous year that demonstrate their mastery. Your child's teacher may not be aware of your child's true potential so early in the school year. It is helpful to be able to show examples of the work they have done or the quality of work you would like to see them producing.
*Become an ally. You and your child's teacher should be partners and not adversaries. Try to build a relationship together by exchanging casual pleasantries. Drop off a Starbucks from time to time. Volunteer in the classroom or offer to do projects at home to help. If every time you see your child's teacher, you are complaining or on the offensive, he is going to start to hide from you or come at you defensively. Don't lose sight of the fact that you both have the same goal: helping your child succeed.
These are just a few tips from being a teacher, and talking with other teachers. Teachers, have you found other ways that parents can help foster a positive communication relationship? Parents, what has worked for you in the past?