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5 Things Parents Need To Know About Communicating With A Teacher

5 Things Parents Need To Know About Communicating With A Teacher

After living with a family of teachers for my entire life, and teaching a bit myself, I’ve learned much about the ins and outs of the trade. One of the things I would constantly hear about from them was their interactions with parents (the good, the bad, and the ugly).

Indeed, I’ve been on the receiving end of many a story about parents communicating with teachers in an improper manner, and I have heard a litany of suggestions as to how to fix these interactions.

Below, you’ll find a few things I think all parents should consider before trying to contact their child’s teacher. I realize that there will be times when your anger towards a particular teacher is justified (been there, done that). That being said, these tips will help to keep things civil!

1. Tone is Key.

When writing an e-mail or talking directly to a teacher, remember that the tone of your delivery matters a lot. It’s basically all about respect, really. You want to address your child’s teacher as the professionals they are, not as a friend or a family member. Treat them like your doctor, or if you attended college, like your professor.

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I remember my college advisors telling us to always be cordial and respectful to professors, even if we had a pressing issue or felt we had been wronged in some way. This advice served me well, as I can’t remember getting on any of my professor’s bad sides, even when I had to talk about touchy issues with them.

The same theory can be applied in your interactions with a teacher. Always communicate with them in an understanding manner, and they’ll reciprocate.

2. In-Person Communication is Always Better.

I know we’re all busy, especially if you’re a parent who’s simultaneously working and taking care of your kids. But even so, if you really have something you want to get across to a teacher, make the effort to meet them in person. I always liked to go to office hours in college rather than shoot an e-mail to a professor, mainly because I knew I could get across what I was actually feeling much better in person.

When you’re communicating through e-mail, you might be compelled to write a few things you would never say in person. Or, you might not say what you need to say in the proper tone.

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When I was a teaching assistant, I didn’t deal with parents at all, but I did deal with 19 year old college students all of the time. I can tell you that I was much more able to address their concerns in person, than I was able to online.

3. Don’t Express Your Frustration on Social Media.

If there’s a teacher you are particularly at odds with, don’t resort to social media as a way to throw them under the bus. Yes, while you may be dealing with a problematic teacher, it’s still better to ask to meet them in person. On social media, you might say things in the heat of the moment that you don’t really mean, and these things might reach the ears of the teacher in question (especially if you live in a relatively close-knit community).

That’s a problem because once that happens, the teacher is angry, you’re angry, and your child is caught in the middle. There’s a bit of a theme forming here: direct communication is key!

4. Listen.

This goes both ways. You should listen to everything the teacher says. Listen to their concerns and suggestions. Really try to understand where they’re coming from. Conversely, the teacher should hear you out. You should both try to come to an amicable agreement based on whatever issue you’re having.

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More often than not though, parents and teachers try to talk over each other, rather than listen and understand each other’s points of view. In most cases, both sides will have valid perspectives. Since we are all adults, it’s our responsibility to find some middle ground

5. It’s All About Give and Take.

When I say you should compromise, I really mean it. For example, if your child is having an issue with their behavior or their reading comprehension, be open to all of the strategies for improvement their teacher suggests. They are, after all, the experts here, and they’re around your child nearly as much as you are.

On the flip side, if you have some valid concerns in relation to what the teacher is doing, bring it up in an amicable and understanding manner. To somewhat quote Yoda, anger leads only to the dark side!

The best case scenario is that you implement some of the strategies the teacher suggests, and the teacher takes into account some of the insights you have about your child.

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In Closing…

I know that there are some teachers out there who are maddeningly difficult to get along with (trust me, I’ve had more than a few of them). At the same time, know that the majority of teachers just want to do what is best for your child. As long as you understand that, and take it into account in all of your communications with teachers, you’ll do just fine. Additionally, you’ll win a lot of fans amongst the teacher population as well!

Remember: as your child gets older, you’ll have progressively fewer opportunities to contact their teachers. Eventually, once they reach college, you’ll have practically zero influence. At that point, it’s up to your child to do the communicating themselves.

So I guess the point I’m trying to make is this: set a good example. Be a good communicator. With luck, your kid will take after you, and they’ll grow up into model students for their future teachers and professors.

We all have problems we want to address at one point or another. What matters is how we go about fixing them (that’s pretty good, I think I’ll quote myself on that).

Featured photo credit: Teacher’s Pet/ Matthew via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

If I was a super hero I’d want my super power to be the ability to motivate everyone around me. Think of how many problems you could solve just by being able to motivate people towards their goals. You wouldn’t be frustrated by lazy co-workers. You wouldn’t be mad at your partner for wasting the weekend in front of the TV. Also, the more people around you are motivated toward their dreams, the more you can capitalize off their successes.

Being able to motivate people is key to your success at work, at home, and in the future because no one can achieve anything alone. We all need the help of others.

So, how to motivate people? Here are 7 ways to motivate others even you can do.

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1. Listen

Most people start out trying to motivate someone by giving them a lengthy speech, but this rarely works because motivation has to start inside others. The best way to motivate others is to start by listening to what they want to do. Find out what the person’s goals and dreams are. If it’s something you want to encourage, then continue through these steps.

2. Ask Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are the best way to figure out what someone’s dreams are. If you can’t think of anything to ask, start with, “What have you always wanted to do?”

“Why do you want to do that?”

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“What makes you so excited about it?”

“How long has that been your dream?”

You need this information the help you with the following steps.

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3. Encourage

This is the most important step, because starting a dream is scary. People are so scared they will fail or look stupid, many never try to reach their goals, so this is where you come in. You must encourage them. Say things like, “I think you will be great at that.” Better yet, say, “I think your skills in X will help you succeed.” For example if you have a friend who wants to own a pet store, say, “You are so great with animals, I think you will be excellent at running a pet store.”

4. Ask About What the First Step Will Be

After you’ve encouraged them, find how they will start. If they don’t know, you can make suggestions, but it’s better to let the person figure out the first step themselves so they can be committed to the process.

5. Dream

This is the most fun step, because you can dream about success. Say things like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if your business took off, and you didn’t have to work at that job you hate?” By allowing others to dream, you solidify the motivation in place and connect their dreams to a future reality.

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6. Ask How You Can Help

Most of the time, others won’t need anything from you, but it’s always good to offer. Just letting the person know you’re there will help motivate them to start. And, who knows, maybe your skills can help.

7. Follow Up

Periodically, over the course of the next year, ask them how their goal is going. This way you can find out what progress has been made. You may need to do the seven steps again, or they may need motivation in another area of their life.

Final Thoughts

By following these seven steps, you’ll be able to encourage the people around you to achieve their dreams and goals. In return, you’ll be more passionate about getting to your goals, you’ll be surrounded by successful people, and others will want to help you reach your dreams …

Oh, and you’ll become a motivational super hero. Time to get a cape!

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