Your child’s teacher has a lot of influence on how the school year will go. What do you do when you and your child’s teacher don’t get along? We asked teachers and parents for input on how to deal with friction.
If you don’t like your child’s teacher, short of complaining on Facebook to your friends, there’s not much you can do. Your best bet is to work on repairing the issues you have.
Learn how to team up with your child’s teacher for a better, smoother school year. We talked to teachers and parents to get perspective from both sides.
Discover 5 tips for talking to your child’s teacher >>
Become teammates, not adversaries
Sherri Kuhn, mom of two, has worked as an elementary school social skills aide for seven years. She’s witnessed interactions between teachers and parents firsthand. Sherri’s experience has taught her two major lessons. First, she suggests framing issues in a way that shows you believe you and the teacher can work as a team as opposed to against each other. “How can we work together to solve Bobby’s behavior issue?” Sherri offers as an example. “Try and resolve issues directly with the teacher at first. Always,” she offers as her second point of advice. “Going straight to the principal shows the teacher you don’t have faith in [her] ability to work with you.”
Communicate your commitment to education
If you have issues with the way something is being handled at school, it’s not going to get resolved until you say something.
“Be a squeaky wheel,” says Jon Sponaas, who teaches English in Las Vegas. “If a teacher has 160 students a day, they don’t have time to actively seek out relationships with all their kids’ parents. But the ones that email, call, and set up conferences are a delight because they send a clear message that education is a value in their home.” By showing that you’re invested in your child’s education, you’ll help to establish a bond with your child’s teacher. You’re better off sharing the problems you have and approaching them together than you are becoming frustrated and resentful over problems that aren’t addressed.
What to do when the teacher is the bully >>
Keep the lines of communication open
“The key is for both parents and teachers to communicate actively with each other,” says Michael, father to two elementary school children near Los Angeles. “Someone has to start this dialog. It can come from either side, but I’d suggest the teacher should initiate it, as they do this for a living and can refine their approach over time. In addition, this approach should be supported and encouraged by school administration, such that there is an escalation path for both teachers and parents if there is an issue.” Schools have systems in place to deal with issues ranging from behavior problems to grades. Use the system to communicate the problems you have. Seeing change may be as simple as asking your child’s teacher what the appropriate steps are for communicating a problem you have.