When your kids are in school, you want to know that you're on the same page as their teacher. Having a team mindset gives the children the best environment to learn and thrive in the classroom.
It's frustrating when you have an adversarial relationship with the teacher, but if you do, you can still turn it around. Never forget that you need to exhibit good manners in all situations, even when you disagree with the teacher. If you show the educator respect with what you say and your actions, you're more likely to come to an agreement later.
Remember that Teachers are Human
The first thing to remember is that the teacher is human and has both good days and bad. If he or she says or does something you don't like, try not to overreact, unless it's illegal or dangerous. Chances are, it's something that will pass. Don't gossip about the teacher with other parents, or the problem may escalate out of control.
Let the teacher know you're there for your child, and if there is anything you can do, to let you know. Sometimes that involves emailing or calling each other with issues that come up throughout the school year. Don't forget to also send notes and messages when the teacher does something you like. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and hear positive comments.
You don't have to hover or be in the teacher's face to be present. Allow the teacher some personal space and enough time to resolve whatever issues may come up.
When there's an open house, orientation, or conference, be there and be on time. You don't want to miss important information that is often provided during these events.
Let the teacher know about specific things that may affect her relationship with your child. For example, if you have recently separated from your spouse or gone through a divorce, your child may exhibit frustration or sadness. If your child can't hear or see well from a certain distance or angle, the teacher needs to know.
Show Your Appreciation
Most teachers welcome parents showing their appreciation for what they do. Periodically throughout the school year, send a card thanking the teacher for her hard work and dedication to your child's education. It's nice if you can include something specific, like her thoughtfulness in asking about your child's game on the weekend or complimenting her on a task. Find out when the teacher's birthday is and send her a card.
Common Pet Peeves of Teachers
Most teachers go into their field because they enjoy educating and sharing knowledge, and they may become frustrated when children or their parents create conflict. Here are some common issues that make their work more difficult:
- Not teaching your child proper manners. You should start teaching and enforcing good manners long before your child starts school. Children should know how to treat others with respect, have good table manners, and be able to play well with others before they step foot in the classroom.
- Going around the teacher. Never go around your child's teacher to deal with a problem that can be taken care of by speaking to him or her. Heading straight to an administrator to "tell on" the teacher creates headaches for everyone involved. First, approach the teacher in a calm manner, state your case using polite language, and then listen. You might learn something about your child that the administrator doesn't know but the teacher does. You may also discover that there has been a break in communication that can be cleared up without involving someone else.
- Taking the child's side in a dispute without listening to the teacher first. Of course, your child is precious and sweet, but if there is a disagreement between him and his teacher, there may be another side to the story that you need to hear. No matter how wonderful your child is, he or she may have done something that needs attention. Ask the teacher to explain his side of the issue, and if it's completely different from your child's version, perhaps the three of you need to get together to get to the heart of the problem.
- Not holding your child accountable for himself. One of the things your child needs to learn to be a productive adult is to take responsibility. This includes jotting down homework assignments, remembering school supplies, and getting projects handed in on time. If your child is working on a project where other students depend on her, she needs to follow through and do what is expected of her. Not doing so can be frustrating to others and even cause them to get a bad grade. Don't do your child's homework. If you feel that the teacher sends home more work than your child can manage, bring it up to the teacher in a respectful manner. You may find out that the child had a longer period of time to do the assignment but waited until the night before it was due to begin working on it.
- Not being an attentive parent. There may be times when your child's teacher requires your involvement in the student's education. This may be listening to him read for a few minutes each night or helping him learn his multiplication tables. Not doing so can hold back your child's progress in those subjects.
- Being an overly protective parent. Perhaps someone hurt your little girl's feelings on the playground, or your little boy was the last child chosen for a team. Take a deep breath and try your best to let your child work things out. If you get involved too quickly, you're setting the student up for failure later in life. Everyone needs to know how to solve problems, and you won't be there to do everything for him when he's an adult. However, if you feel that the problem has gotten out of hand to the point where your child can't deal with it, have a meeting with the teacher and discuss options for a solution.
- Being disorganized to the point that it affects your child. Your lack of organization can cost the teacher precious time in having to track things down or make extra phone calls. Remember that there is only one teacher and often more than 20 children per class. Make sure that when your child brings something home for you to sign that you do it and get it back in her book bag before the due date.
- Not supporting classroom rules. Many teachers send a list of rules home for the parent to sign. If your child presents this to you, sit down with her and go over each rule. Ask her if she has any questions and answer them the best that you can. If there is anything you don't understand, make a note of it and ask the teacher, either via email or a note. You may also request a phone call or in-person conference. Those rules—even the ones that make no sense to you—are there for a reason. Many teachers adjust their list of rules based on their own classroom experience, and they need to have them in place for classroom management.
- Expecting the teacher to provide school supplies. Most teachers send lists of needed supplies at the beginning of the school year, and they expect the students to have everything on it within a reasonable time. Keep the list and have your child remind you when she starts to run low on one of the items so you can replenish it. The teacher shouldn't have to give your child paper and pencils everyday.
- Forgetting that the teacher has a personal life. When you have an issue you'd like to address with the teacher, go ahead and email him with it. However, don't expect a response within an hour—particularly late at night, on weekends, or during a holiday.