Problems with the teacher?

by Alenka


Luckily, our venture into the public school has been very rewarding so far: my older one has got a really wonderful teacher: kind, knowledgeable, understanding, creative, positive yet firm. We’ve encountered our first set of issues – Montessori-style script writing is not appreciated in our local public elementary schools, but after some pondering we decided it is not a battle worth fighting – as long as the teacher is courteous in her ways of insisting in writing in print, we can do it.

Yet lots of our friends weren’t so lucky with their teachers this year. I really like the advice by Melissa Taylor in Scholastic Parent & Child magazine, and since I couldn’t find these tips anywhere online to link to it, I just typed it here for anybody who needs help communicating with the teacher:

  • Set up a meeting with your child’s teacher.  Provide her with an idea of what you’d like to discuss so that she has time to prepare.
  • Be Polite. Just like you, the teacher wants the best for your child.   It will be easier to communicate clearly if everyone is calm.
  • Explain the issue and what you’ve already tried.  For example,  ‘My child has trouble seeing the blackboard.  She wear glasses, but it’s not enough.’
  • Focus on solutions, not problems.  Come with a few ideas of your own.  (‘A seat closer to the front might help.’)   With the teacher, create an action plan that you can both set in motion when the meeting is over.
  • Approach the principal if you feel the teacher is not hearing your concerns.  If you know other parents with similar concerns, you might approach the teacher together.  You have the right to make sure that your child is getting what she/he needs at school.

Lots of parents are resistant to contact the teacher: what if she’ll just make my child’s life in school reasonable? I strongly believe that respectful communication is crucial: first of all the teacher might not be even aware what havoc certain issue creates for your child. Second, I’ve noticed from experience that whenever the parents take steps to communicate with the teacher, the situation ALWAYS improve: your teacher doesn’t want problems any more then you do! And by contacting her, you are setting the limits quite clear. What do you have to lose?! In the worst case scenario, things will remain as bad as they were. In the best – they might improve quite significantly!

And if the issue doesn’t get resolved, it is even more important to bring it up to the principal. Following the same guidelines, showing the principal how you were trying to resolve this issue with the teacher and what effect did it have, you will most certainly get at least some results.

Please share how successful was your own communication with your child’s teacher!