Angela's Answers: Teacher Tips
photograph by William Taufic
Now that the new school year is in full swing, you’ve probably had a chance to get to know your child’s teacher. It’s not always a match made in heaven. I remember a difficult conversation I had with one of my daughter’s teachers, a few years back. While discussing my daughter’s needs, I apparently touched upon a nerve as the teacher replied, “Are you saying that I’m not doing my job?” Taken aback, I explained that I was simply asking about the teaching style as it related to my daughter and how we could maximize her learning. Needless to say this was a hard year and I learned a few things about how to deal with different styles of teaching.
» Be proactive and open: When dealing with a difficult teacher or a trying situation, meet it head-on and schedule a meeting (preferably outside the normal parent/teacher meeting days as they will have more time and typically give less generic responses). When discussing the concern, it is important to be open to hearing constructive criticism about your child—even more than the praise.
» Stay Focused: We owe it to our kids to explain to a teacher, clearly, what our child’s needs are to get the best results in the classroom. We need to act as a team. So it’s important to stay focused and positive and find workable ways to figure out the problem without chastising or creating ill will. Remember, going in a negative direction will only hurt your child in the long run.
» Use empathetic communication and stay in touch: When discussing a problem, talk about it with respect and focus on a solution. This is the way we want our children spoken to and this is the way we should speak with our teachers. E-mail a follow-up to check in on the situation. If your child is not progressing after an adequate period of time, take it into your own hands and talk with the principal or get a group of parents together to help resolve the situation.
Our children are not perfect. The school system is not perfect. But, as parents, it is our job to ensure that our kids are supplied with the tools and support that will keep them on a winning track.