When your child comes home from school crying and frustrated, it can be hard to flesh out the cause. A fight with a friend? Bullies? Is the material too challenging?
But what if it’s the teacher?
And once you figure that out, what do you do next? You might dash off an email. Demand a meeting with a principal. Or call the teacher.
The method used to communicate isn’t as important as how you communicate. The nonprofit Expect More Arizona offers these suggestions for how to frame your concerns.
1. Try to be impartial
Just because your child says that the teacher is being unfair or unreasonable, doesn’t mean that’s the case. Instead of shooting off a terse email or making an angry phone call, take a step back to evaluate the situation and consider whether you have all of the information.
2. Be respectful
Going into a meeting upset and heated will only create a hostile environment that forces the teacher to be defensive. That type of confrontation is likely to result in more frustration and stress. By treating the teacher with the respect, you’ll earn their respect.
3. Appreciate the teacher’s limitations
Educators are some of the most hard-working, dedicated professionals out there. They’re working for little pay, with class sizes of 25 or more. And most spend hundreds of dollars out of their own pocket to keep their classroom well-stocked. However you decide to move forward, don’t lose site of the fact that he or she is only one person, and they’re outnumbered in the classroom by a factor of 30.
4. Treat educators as your ally
The teacher spends six to eight hours with your little one, five days a week. They should be your first stop to discuss any issues, before voicing concerns to administrators, since they’ll have the most experience and insight. Look for ways that you can work together, in order to support your child’s learning.
5. Create a partnership
Look for mutually beneficial resolutions that actively involve both you and the teacher. Learning should be happening both in the classroom and at home, so a joint effort will be the best answer for your child.
Don’t wait for the parent/teacher conferences. Teachers are busy, but they should be willing to schedule meetings to address a student’s well-being.
Expect More Arizona is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan education advocacy organization working to ensure every child has access to an excellence education, every step of the way. For more information visit ExpectMoreArizona.org.