1. Teach your child to self-advocate.
This will look different at different stages of your child’s education. By the time she or he gets to high school, the child is expected to ask for help when he needs it, go over his grades when he has a question, and check on his own progress. Communicating with parents is a part of a teacher’s responsibility, but Mrs. Smith does not want to see the parent of a high school student asking questions that the student should be asking. Here’s an example:
Max is wondering why his grade is so low. Can you explain why he got a D on a quiz?
If Max is wondering, Max should be asking. Furthermore, if Max would like to improve, he should be asking for help in conjunction with communication with parents.
2. Most of us work really, really hard.
Many of us have second jobs because teacher pay isn’t enough. Get to know your child’s teacher by creating some dialogue. It’s okay to ask if he or she has children, or what they like to do outside the classroom. Remember that teachers are human and are likely working hard to ensure your child’s success. Ask the questions you have before jumping to conclusions about a teacher’s disposition, background, or motives.
3. We do not “not like” your child.
Rather, we may not like behaviors that your child engages in, like acting out in class, creating disruptions, being argumentative, or not doing homework but this almost never means that we “don’t like your child.” Most teachers understand that even children who seem outright rude have an underlying issue causing the behavior. It’s in our best interest to understand the child. We hope to nip negative behavior in the bud by being firm and swift with action. If your child feels the teacher picks on him, the first course of action should be to open an dialogue and possibly to involve a counselor to mediate before jumping to any conclusions, or going straight to administration. Instead of complicating the relationship between teacher and child, try to fix it.
4. Fair is not always equal.
Often, parents assume that because another child was treated differently, they are “favorited.” Remember that you don’t always know the context. There may be many mitigating factors not aware to other students, and especially parents. Even “best friends” don’t tell the whole story out of embarrassment or the joy of saying, “The teacher gave me….” A good way to approach this is to ask the teacher what the policy is for a particular behavior, or late homework assignment. This will open the dialogue. If you are uncertain about the fairness of a grade or disciplinary action, express yourself within that dialogue.
5. We love involved parents.
Check grades, talk to your kids at home, come to the open houses, conferences and other school events. Check in with teachers regularly just to say hello and see how your child is doing. We don’t find it annoying; we find it refreshing!