How To Talk To Your Child’s Teacher When You Have An Issue: Ways To Help, Not Hinder The Situation
In my first three years of teaching high school, I thought I knew it all. I had the same mentality of a rebellious teenager, but I was armed with a college degree and a classroom full of students. Fifteen years later, I look back on my naivety with my eyes firmly rolled back in my head. I was impossible to deal with, especially with parents. I didn’t have children of my own at the time. Colleagues would say to me, “When you have your own children, you will understand the parents of these children better.” Bah! I would scoff. Never! But it was true. I was able to better understand students and their parents just because I now had these two wonderful new people in my life that I would love and protect under any circumstance. I became more understanding to the needs of an angry parent, but sometimes a parent can get so overwhelmed by a problem in class he or she can become impossible to deal with. I pondered this scenario and came up with these three golden rules when discussing an issue with your child’s teacher.
- Don’t come in pointing fingers. If you, via email, phone, or in person, come ready for a fight with a teacher, a resolution is rarely ever settled upon. As a parent myself, I always go with this motto: Never, ever email or call when you have first learned of the issue. I can be easy like Sunday morning until I get upset about an infraction against my child. I always give myself a 24-hour calming period before sending an email, making a phone call, or visiting the teacher. With that said, get all the facts straight first. Here's a fact: kids will embellish the truth to make themselves look better. Before jumping to conclusions and down a teacher's throat, make sure that your child is giving you ALL the pertinent information. Most times, the problem is just a misunderstanding and can be easily fixed.
- Don’t skip the chain of command. Many times, parents will bypass the normal school chain of command and go to the building principal or superintendent over miniscule matters. As a former teacher, that is insulting to us. You should always try to talk with the teacher first, then if your desired outcome is not reached, then you go to the next official on the chain of command totem pole. Most teachers are more than willing to accommodate parents’ wishes. Communication between teachers and parents is paramount. If regular communication is kept, most insignificant problems will never occur in the first place.
- Don’t give up if problems persist. The most dangerous weapon against a teacher is a parent who stays in contact with the teacher and checks grades online through programs like Infinite Campus. Keep the teacher on his or her toes, but never come off like you are being vindictive or hateful. You be the loving parent you are by making sure that your child is as important as any other child in that teacher’s class. Teachers, in the end, are accountable to parents as well as the community. It is your duty and right to monitor that closely.
These are just a few suggestions for keeping the peace in a situation when you, the parent, are emotionally involved. At the same time, teachers sometimes feel unappreciated and overworked and have deep-rooted emotions too. There is nothing worse, on either side, of having your child spend a school-year in a classroom where the parent and the teacher are at each others’ throats.
**These are only suggestions for minor infractions. Violations of a child’s rights, either criminal or negligent, are always to be reported to the proper building administrator or authorities.