BY SHELLY GABLE JAN 2017
If you’re one of the lucky parents, maybe you’ve never had to deal with issues when it comes to the teacher of your child’s class. But maybe not. Maybe, instead, you’ve ended up with a teacher who’s having a rough time. Maybe he or she is experiencing burnout or, for whatever reason, simply does not seem to get along with your child. If you are raising your hand here, this list will help you resolve the situation in a way that sets the pace for a better relationship to finish out the school year. Advice was collected from Middle Georgia moms and teachers (and a few who are both!) to compile these useful tips.
If you did not get a chance to meet with your child’s teacher during the first half of the school year, there’s no time like the present. It’s a lot easier to villainize on either side of the relationship when you haven’t met face-to-face with the “bad guy” of your child’s stories. Schedule a meeting, and make it a top priority.
Ask for the Best Way to Contact
“At the beginning of the year, I like to ask the teachers their preferred method of communication and best times to reach them if an issue should arise,” explains Mary Huffstetler, mother of two. “Then, I am prepared should I need to discuss an issue throughout the year.” Amanda Strudwick, local mom of three, says, “Communication with teachers is as individual as the teachers themselves.” She adds that it’s much easier to establish relationships with lower school teachers. As children age, they tend to want parents with less visibility.
Then Use It
This seems so simple, yet it is an area in which we as humans often fall short. It may have existed as a conversation in your head, and in the rush of everyday life, you never got around to actually telling your child’s teacher something important. A teacher and a mother of two, Jessica Ramsay, uses a behavior log to communicate daily with parents of her students. In the form of a journal, the log goes home every day to let parents know about important things, and they are invited to write back with any questions or concerns.
Once every week or every other week, make contact. How is my child performing/behaving? Is there anything I can do to help with activities this week? Keeping that line open provides an opportunity for both parties to air grievances and/or request assistance. It keeps the two of you on the same page, and that is invaluable in problem solving.
Become a Helper
Volunteering is often requested throughout the school year, and mom Marina Cole states, “I’m always at school, so I get to see the teachers often and talk to them directly if I have any concerns.” If you can never fit time in the classroom into your schedule, be that parent who sends in materials when they’re requested—no amount of effort is too small, as long as it is present.
Do Your Homework
Keep abreast of the events going on in the classroom, even if that means that you are tracking multiple methods of communication from the teacher. (And maybe gently suggest that he or she reduce the clutter of stuff into one or two ways of telling parents what’s happening so that fewer things get lost in the shuffle.) Popular apps like ClassDojo and Remind, as well as private Facebook groups, keep parents in the know.
Teachers need to feel loved by their students’ parents. Another local mom and teacher, who asked to remain anonymous, had this to say: “Honestly, all teachers want to know that parents appreciate what they do. A simple note, a box of Kleenex, or another school supply goes a long way to build a great relationship with your child’s teacher.”
Keep in Touch with Your Child
Sometimes, things get lost in translation. Important things, like maybe your child was being mean to the child who struck him or her, can be left out in the retelling you receive. Making sure that you are conversing with your child and asking what he or she might have done to exacerbate the situation helps to keep you from jumping to the wrong conclusions. And discussing how he or she can work to resolve the conflict before you step in is a great character-building exercise.
Don’t Make It Personal
It’s not about you or your hang-ups with the school system or your dislike of the teacher. It’s about making sure that your child receives the best education possible. A Bibb County Teacher of the Year recipient, Jasmin Coates offers this advice: “It is important to establish a positive relationship between parents and teachers in front of the students, so that the student can see that their parents and their teacher are a united front and not enemies that they can pit against each other.”
Take It Up a Level
If you’ve tried every form of speaking with your child’s teacher but are still not getting anywhere, consider bringing in a school administrator. Most teachers are happy to keep in touch, but if you have one who isn’t handling that job, asking for help from the principal in finding out what’s going on with your child’s school experience may be your best option. Keep it clean, though. Approach it as a concerned parent, not someone who is looking to point fingers.#