Tips for Parents on Dealing with Teachers
With a new school year starting, it is important to know how to deal with teachers. Having been a teacher myself, I can tell you that there are some good guidelines to go by which may help your relations with your child’s teachers. Success in education depends greatly on the teachers and parents’ ability to get along with each other and work in the child’s best interest. While there are no fast and true rules, here are a few pointers on how to deal with teachers.
1) Show Respect: Admittedly I was good at dealing with parents, even when they came with NO respect. But if you show the teacher you believe in them and treat them like the expert, they will sense this and generally give respect back.
2) Don’t be Defensive: Sometimes conflicts arise which can create tension, but don’t automatically be on the defensive with teachers. This creates an air of hostility. Instead, assume the teacher wants to help your child, unless there is evidence to the contrary. And in this case, you may need to take it to a higher power. Keep in mind though those teachers usually chose the profession they are in to help kids and go on that assumption first.
3) Be Friendly: Teachers are people too. If you come in angry, that will set the tone for the meeting. Be friendly and professional toward the teacher or teachers in a meeting until you have heard their story. They may want to encourage your child, not criticize them. And, even when there are things they think your child is doing wrong, be open to suggestions and you may find they will listen to you better too.
4) Be Helpful: Teachers are always looking for help. They are overwhelmed with work and daily tasks, and the stresses of helping so many kids find their way. Volunteer to help by helping with homework at home, volunteering your time at the school, and other ways.
5) Be Available: If the teacher calls and needs to speak with you, try to return their call as soon as you can. They understand people have jobs and responsibilities, but returning the call as quickly as you can communicates respect and concern. Teachers will appreciate it.
6) Donate Things: Teachers love donations from parents. Offer to bring some notebooks or extra pencils up, prizes for rewards, and so forth. If you show you are willing to help out this way, it will go a long way toward improving your relationship with teachers.
These are just a few ways you can work on improving your relationship with your child’s teachers. Teachers respond to respect and kindness, just as anyone does. And, while I always tried to be open and helpful no matter what the demeanor of the parent, many teachers are reactive, and react according to YOUR mood. If you keep this in mind, you may increase the chances of improving things right off the bat.
Another tip is to visit your child’s school even when there is not a problem. As a teacher, I always tried to call parents even when the student did something great. Boy, were they surprised. I often got frantic calls on my voicemail, asking what their child had done. But when I called to say they had great behavior at a field trip or made a 90% on a test, they are thrilled. Communication is the key for both parents and teachers to pave the way for better communications in schools. After all, it is for the benefit of the student when everyone works together. The old saying, “It takes a village,” definitely rings true here.