Photo by: NPA

5 Tips For Talking With Your Child’s Teacher

Photo by: NPA

Teachers know that parents are their child’s first and foremost teacher—and that is why teachers want to collaborate with moms and dads to create the best learning experience possible for children. But just like a parent’s job, a teacher’s work is never done…Every minute of everyday is utilized—teachers spend most of their days preparing to teach, then teaching and working with students, and in between they meet with colleagues, grade papers, plan instruction, and problem solve. So knowing your busy schedule and the teacher’s, how can parents best reach out to discuss their child’s education?

Here are 5 tips for talking with your child’s teacher:

  • Email the teacher to ask how they would like to schedule a time to talk about your child. This way, they can suggest different times that fit in with your schedule, and also the teacher’s work and family responsibilities. Realize that since a teacher’s day is usually filled with teaching responsibilities, it might take a day or two for a response to an email or phone call.
  • After setting up a meeting at a time that works for everyone, email the teacher your questions and what topics you would like to discuss. That way, the teacher can bring any assessments, data, or other helpful resources to the meeting.
  • Communicate with the teacher first about any issues or concerns you have, not a school board member, or principal. The teachers are the people on the frontlines working directly with students, and they should be the first to try and problem solve, or provide information and guidance. In most cases, they know much more about what is happening at the classroom level than the administrators do.
  • Come with an open mind, and a team approach. Teachers and parents are on the same side, working to support the child. This relationship should be a collaborative team. Share what you know about your child, and ask what the teacher notices as well. Together, you can make a plan, or decide on the best course of action.
  • Be willing to discuss and provide support on the home front. Teachers can’t come home with your child to make sure they give you the newsletter, recent test, or the weekly homework assignments. Support your child and teacher by providing a quiet space for homework, an evening check in time, and a system for sharing important papers from school. The teacher should offer ways they can support your efforts at home as well.

Parents and teachers working together to help children is a foundation of education, and it is the real, powerful work of education that happens every day. In small and large ways, communication from teachers to parents provides insight into their child’s education; and likewise, communication from parents to teachers gives a clear picture of the home environment and the wisdom of parents who know their child best. Together, teachers and parents should regularly meet to share a child’s progress, discuss a problem, make a plan, or change a course of action.

When all parties are respectful, open to each other’s ideas, and empathetic, the parent-teacher team can unify to enrich, improve, and extend the education of the child.

Katy Farber is the author of Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop The Exodus, a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Rumney Memorial School in Middlesex, Vermont, and author of the popular green parenting blog, Non-Toxic Kids.

Editor’s note: Leave your thoughts and comments below and you could be a lucky winner of Katy’s book Why Great Teachers Quit and How We Might Stop The Exodus!

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