You have a request, you need to get some information, or its conference time – how are you going to get the teacher to listen to you? If talking to teachers has your undies in a twist, let me (metaphorically) untwist them for you.
*1. Forget all the negative things you’ve heard about teachers in general and your child’s teacher in particular. Even if one of your other kids has had this same teacher, don’t make assumptions about him/her. Most teachers do not fall into teaching because there was nothing else to do. Most people would rather do nothing than teach! Generally speaking, teachers are called to teach – they have an inner need to share their love of a particular subject or, in my case, change the world! And teachers learn and change just like other humans: they grow wearier and less patient or more confident and more compassionate. Approach your communication with optimism. You’ll feel better and so will that teacher.
*2. Approach all communication with a sense of partnership rather than adversity. Oddly enough, you and the teacher are on the same page. Use words like, “Partner,” “Partnership,” “Partnering,” “Team up,” etc. Instead of talking about how much you care about your child’s education (teachers know that), talk about how you can team up to make the teacher’s job easier and your child’s year more fun and/or educational. Say things like, “How can I support you?” or “You’re the professional: what would you recommend?” It’s fine to let the teacher know what hasn’t worked for your child but aim for agreement, a compromise. Your child’s teacher would be thrilled with some parental cooperation. And really, you and your child will get more good attention from the teacher if you’re not approaching the situation worried and tense.
*3. Bribe the teacher. Bribe is such a harsh word, but it’s so effective (and NO, I’m not serious, but…) Be friendly with the teacher and give him or her a gift(s). And speaking of gifts – make it a goody. The best gift you can give a teacher (aside from a pay raise) is the chance for a nice meal. Out in public rather than sitting at his/her desk grading papers. In a not-fast-food place. Maybe there’s alcohol involved. Like an adult. Your child’s teacher thinks about your child every single day and most nights and weekends too. That is a true statement. Yes, they get paid to do their jobs but if you’re happy with your child’s teachers, let them know that you appreciate them caring for your child. I guarantee they’re doing extra work without any recognition. Be the parent that goes that extra mile.
A bonus tip: When all is said and done, if these tips don’t work, just know that it’s okay for your child to have a bad teacher. I don’t mean an abusive teacher but just one that doesn’t quite have a handle on their job. Before you rampage, check with someone (like the school counselor, perhaps, or a school consultant, or the Director of Special Services in your school district, and find out what can be done). However, know that what’s most important for your child’s success and happiness is your parenting. That’s a great place to focus!
Copyright 2017, Yafa Crane Luria. All Rights Reserved
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