Starting things off on the right foot with your child’s teachers
By Mimi Greenwood Knight
My 16-year-old was devastated to realize he’d missed his first meeting as an officer in his high school band. For three years, he’d had his heart set on nabbing the Perfect Attendance award—for all four years in band—and now he’d blown it. My advice to him was the same advice I’d been offering since kindergarten. “Remember, teachers are people. Treat them like it.”
Jonah spoke to the band director, explained how upset he was about missing the meeting, how he’d been confused about the time, and how hard he’d been working for that perfect attendance award. Not only did Mr. Naquin accept his apology, but he took the time to extol the good qualities he’d seen in Jonah that led him to select him for leadership and assured him that in this case the absence could simply “fall off his record.”
My advice to parents as their child begins a new year with a new teacher is the same. Remember that your child’s teachers are real people just like you—likely people with families and full lives outside of school. Treat them accordingly. Make a human connection early and follow these A-B-Cs for establishing a beneficial relationship with teachers that’ll help you work together as a team for the benefit of your child.
Ask For Teamwork
Communicate to your child’s teacher that you’re interested in working with them to make the most of the time your child has in their classroom. Should you disagree with something they’re doing, communicate it respectfully to them and offer them the opportunity to explain their reasoning.
Teaching is a demanding job that doesn’t pay like it should. Never underestimate the power of encouraging words from you to bolster an overworked, underappreciated teacher. If you’re happy with the job they’re doing, take time to tell them so. Our futures literally depend on the work they’re doing with your children.
Create a Culture of Respect
Your child’s opinion of their teacher can affect their success in the classroom. Never disparage your child’s teacher within earshot of your child. If you have complaints, communicate them to the teacher—and their superiors, if necessary—but never in front of your child. It sends a signal that disrespect for people who are only trying to help is acceptable, and can lead to problems in the classroom and down the road.