By Geri Coleman Tucker
Most teachers expect and welcome communication via email. But you should be careful about what you say and how you say it in the email.
Be sure the teacher is willing to communicate by email. Ask to exchange email addresses.
Express how much you appreciate the teacher’s hard work or how much your child likes the class.
Long emails often aren’t read closely.
Don’t expect answers on weekends, evenings or vacations. Teachers have family lives, too. Find out what the teacher’s policy is on how quickly you’re likely to get a response.
Don’t ask questions if the answers can be found in class materials. Many teachers now go to great lengths to put grades, assignments and other materials on a web portal. Check that first.
An email to your child’s teacher should only include other school professionals if they’ve been involved in the particular issue you’re emailing about.
If you want to discuss a learning issue, try to stick with the facts. Instead of writing “no one is helping my son with his math,” you can cover the same territory in a less accusatory tone. For example, you can write, “He failed the last two math tests, and I’m concerned he needs some math help. Can you and I set up a time to talk about this further?” That may start the process of a helpful dialogue.
Thank the teacher for taking the time to read your message, and say that you look forward to hearing her thoughts.
Whether your child is having a positive or negative experience in school, it’s important to make the most of your parent-teacher conference. Here are tips to help you and the teacher work together toward success for your child at parent-teacher conferences.
Was your child recently evaluated—either by the school, a private clinic or independent evaluator? It’s important to share the report with your child’s teacher (if the evaluator or your lawyer, if you have one, doesn’t object). Here are suggestions on how to start.
Geri Coleman Tucker is a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor for USA Today.
Kristen L. Hodnett, M.S.Ed., is a clinical professor in the department of special education at Hunter College in New York City.
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