The parent/teacher relationship is one that must be cultivated and handled with care. As a teacher myself, I can tell you that there have been parents in my past that I have both adored and abhorred. Every teacher can look back at past classes and remember with poignant accuracy those parents that they would have gladly sat down to have a cup of coffee with, and those that would cause them to hide behind a tower of toilet paper whenever catching a glimpse of them in the grocery store.
So what do you do to keep from becoming a teacher’s worst nightmare? Here are some tips from a professional.
1) On your very first meeting with the teacher, be it the first day of school, or a chance meeting at the mall, smile and introduce yourself with a firm handshake. The handshake has forever been a part of our culture as a sign of goodwill and trust, and is a great first impression. Also make sure to mention the name of your student. You wouldn’t want to have your great first impression confused with someone else’s that may not have been so great!
2) Volunteer to help out with at least one event going on in your child’s classroom, and then make sure to stick with it. Empty promises, or you forgetting, will be remembered, and not fondly.
3) Do NOT go on and on and on about your child’s asthma, soccer expertise, tonsil surgery, beauty pageant success, etc. It’s not that a teacher doesn’t care, but instead loves to hear these things from the students, so let them have their time to share and shine. If it is necessary health information, tell the teacher the important points and your child’s needs, and then leave it alone. Teachers are professionals, and it is our job to keep up on these things. Don’t worry unless you are certain your child’s needs aren’t being met.
4) There are times when teachers have to make referrals so that your child can receive extra help, and help them to achieve to the best of their abilities. This is our job. PLEASE, do not take it personal. Do not take it as degrading to you, your parenting, or your child. DO listen to what the teacher has to say. DO ask for more information. DO go along with any testing or extra work that your teacher or district feels is necessary. It is a teacher’s job to make sure that your child gets the help that he or she needs to succeed. Even if you don’t go along with the idea, the testing will not in any way hurt or label your child, and you might be surprised with the results.
5) Communicate. The greatest issues between parents and teachers occur because of communication, or lack there of. If you need to take your child out of school or are running late to bring them/pick them up make sure to send a note ahead of time, or call. This way the teacher is not concerned about where your child may be. Safety is a key concern in schools today, and a teacher must be in the know about where your child is or will be. This way we are certain they are safe. Also, if you ever have questions or concerns about what and how your student is being taught, be sure to talk to the teacher first. Then if you have any other issues that are not handled at that meeting, be sure to follow the chain of command listed by your district.
Following these simple guidelines will help to build a positive relationship between you and your student’s teacher. And just remember, your teacher has a big job ahead of him or her. A teacher not only has all the students in class to worry about, but a set of parents to go along with each one. They also have to worry about discipline, state mandates, safety, whether or not their class is meeting Adequate Yearly Progress, No Child Left Behind, and a host of other issues and concerns that face teachers today. Many teachers are also parents themselves, so they know where you are coming from. If teachers and parents can be a little compassionate about the worries that each side faces, we will be able to reach that middle ground that will benefit our students the most.