By Geri Coleman Tucker
You want the best for your child, and sometimes you and the teacher may disagree. But too much friction could impact your child. Use these tips to improve your relationship with your child’s teacher.
Let the teacher give her perspective without interrupting her. Ask questions if you need clarification, and make sure your understanding is correct. The more respectful you are of her point of view, the more likely she will respond in kind. A good entry point for the discussion can be listing what you and the teacher agree and disagree on. This can bring clarity and align both of you toward the common goal of helping your child.
If you disagree with the teacher’s comments, respectfully point out the facts that support your point of view. Try to focus on data, such as test scores, work samples or observations.
If you have concerns, voice them calmly, without personal attacks. Say, “I didn’t know that my daughter hadn’t turned in homework for the last month. I didn’t know that until I saw her report card.” That can be more constructive than saying, “Why weren’t you sending me reports that she wasn’t turning in her work?” Perhaps best of all is to make your child the subject of your sentences. Doing this can help you be less emotional.
Sip some water. Count to five. Do whatever you need to do to avoid losing your cool.
Be open to the teacher’s suggestions for what may help and how to remedy the problem. Do your own research too. For example, if you’ve read about software you think might help, politely ask the teacher for her opinion about it. In addition to researching methods and materials, find out more about your child’s rights. The goal isn’t to be combative, but to use your knowledge to push for the services and supports your child needs.
Consider writing your thoughts down before meeting with the teacher. This might keep you from forgetting what you want to say and how you want to say it. Prioritize your concerns, and be respectful of the teacher’s time. Try not to be late to the meeting or expect it to go on longer than the allocated time.
When the teacher makes an extra effort, show your appreciation. Send her an email or call to thank her.
Writing the teacher a follow-up note can help you process what was discussed during your meeting while clarifying next steps and takeaways. Sending an email also provides a record of what you discussed in case you need that information at a later date.
If nothing improves, meet with the principal or the child’s study team leader. The principal may be able to help ease tensions. Be calm and respectful with her, too.
Talking to your child’s teacher about dyslexia is important. It’s the best way for her to understand your child’s challenges, strengths and needs, so she’ll be able to work with your child successfully. Here are eight tips to help you have productive conversations.
Developing a good relationship with your child’s teacher will make it easier for you to share concerns and work together to help your child succeed. Here are some tips for building a partnership.
Geri Coleman Tucker is a freelance writer and editor and a former deputy managing editor for USA Today.
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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