Teachers play an important role in your child’s life. Here are some tips to building a supportive relationship:
Lend helping hands. Parents able to volunteer in the classroom as required or on a school trip are welcome, says Rian McLaughlin, president of the Ontario Teachers’ Federation. “It also gives parents some perspective on classroom dynamics so they can be a partner in their child’s education,” she says.
Book a time to chat. Concerned about your son’s mark on a test or an incident that happened at recess? Avoid the temptation to drop in when picking him up from school and expect his teacher to have time to talk. “Respect teachers and let them know that you want to talk so they’re able to give you the appropriate amount of time,” says McLaughlin. “Showing up anxious, worried or concerned about something isn’t going to absolutely result in best resolution.”
Be a team player. Know what’s happening in your child’s school, be aware of test dates and assignment due dates.
Keep teachers in the loop. Letting the teacher know about things going on in the family – such as divorce or serious illness – allows him to offer support and understanding. “A child might lose a grandparent or beloved pet and may not want to talk about it but a teacher may notice a change in behaviour or ability to focus,” says McLaughlin.
Don’t tattle. If you have an issue with a teacher, address it immediately rather than let it brew. “Talk face to face rather than over the phone unless it’s an immediate concern,” says Prasow. “You’ve heard your child’s side of the story – what’s your teacher’s view?”
Be diplomatic and courteous. Arrive at your appointment prepared to have a conversation rather than a confrontation. Prasow recommends using phrases like, “Help me understand,” or “My son was worried about. After the meeting, write the teacher a note to thank her for her time.
Assume good intentions. “Teachers got into the business because they care,” says McLaughlin. “Go to your appointment with the assumption that they want a productive, progressive, pleasant and supportive environment for your child because it’s better for them to work in as well.” If you’re unable to resolve the matter, then bring in the vice principal or principal.
Maintain professional boundaries. Avoid the temptation to become too friendly. “As a parent, you’re a friendly colleague in a child’s education,” says McLaughlin. “Maintaining professional boundaries keeps things much clearer for everyone. Ultimately, you want to be fair for your child’s so keeping the uniqueness of each role distinct is best.”
Offer positive feedback. Prasow encourages teachers to regularly connect with parents to share achievements through a phone call or note. Teachers also appreciate feedback, such as letting them know you enjoyed reading their monthly newsletter.
LINDA WHITE, Special to QMI Agency
First posted: Wednesday, September 07, 2011 09:00 AM EDT