Working with your child’s teacher

7 Tips for Improving Your Relationship With Your Child’s Teacher

By Amanda Morin

34Found this helpful
34Found this helpful

You want the best for your child both at home and in school. Sometimes you and your child’s teacher may disagree—and that’s OK. But if disagreements affect your rapport, the friction could impact your child as well. These tips can help you try to improve your relationship with your child’s teacher.

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Write down your thoughts.

Consider writing down what you want to say before a meeting with the teacher. (Download a parent-teacher conference worksheet to use for this.) It can help you prioritize your concerns and help you stay on track. It can also keep you from forgetting what you want to say if you get emotional or the teacher doesn’t respond as you expected.

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Use “I” statements.

Try framing your concerns from your perspective. This can help keep the teacher from taking your concerns personally. For instance, saying “Why weren’t you sending me reports that she wasn’t turning in her work?” may put the teacher on the defensive and shut down conversation.

Instead, you could say, “I didn’t know that my daughter hadn’t turned in homework for the last month until I saw her report card.” This explains your concern and allows for more conversation.

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Make a list.

A good way to start the discussion is to make a list of what you and the teacher agree and disagree on. Create the list together. This can help clear things up for both of you. It also aligns you toward the common goal of helping your child.

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Ask to set boundaries.

Tell the teacher you’d like to hear her perspective as well as provide yours, but that you want it to happen in a way that promotes productive conversation.

Suggest that you’re both allowed to speak without being interrupted. Let her know you’ll respect her point of view and that you ask the same of her. Ask the teacher if she’d like to set any boundaries around the conversation, too.

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Bring supporting materials.

It’s OK if you disagree with the teacher’s comments. But make sure you have sample schoolwork or other records on hand, so you can provide facts to support your point of view. Focusing on the data about how your child is doing helps keep the conversation about your child and the support he needs.

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Look for solutions.

Be clear that you’re looking for solutions to your concerns. Or, if you just need to voice your concerns, make sure that’s clear, too. Ask the teacher for suggestions on what can help fix the problem. Provide your own solutions, too. For example, if you’ve read about an accommodation you think might help, suggest it and ask the teacher for her opinion on it.

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Send a follow-up email.

Sending an email summarizing what you talked about and thanking the teacher for her input and time serves many purposes. It can help you process what was discussed during your meeting. It can sum up your decisions and takeaways. 

And sending an email also provides a record of what you discussed in case you need that information at a later date. (Download a communication log worksheet to track these conversations.)

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About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin is a parent advocate, a former teacher and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

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Portrait of Virginia Gryta

Virginia Gryta, M.S., teaches and mentors students working toward master’s degrees and certification in special education at Hunter College.

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