Talk to the teachers before trouble starts!

Build the parent-teacher partnership

Build the parent-teacher partnership

Some kids are absolute angels; mine are not. I have truly great kids who occasionally misbehave or get a bad grade, leading to a dreaded conference with a teacher.  During elementary school, I attended regular parent-teacher conferences and class trips and parties.  My favorite among overwhelmingly good teachers is the quintessential schoolmarm first grade teacher who brought out the best in my studious son with her gentle, intelligent ways (a match made in elementary school heaven!) Unfortunately, my kids also had their share of not-so-great teachers. 

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I’ve always tried to bear in mind that parents’ and teachers’ mutual goal is the education of our children. We’re in partnership. If parents make teachers’ jobs easier, teachers can teach more effectively. Debbie Campanelli, Sullivan West Elementary School PTSO President, and Marguerite Armstrong, a Sullivan West fourth grade teacher, shared some tips for parents in working with teachers:

1.  “Keep the lines of communication open: be connected to teachers and the school.”  Attend parent-teacher conferences.  Read teachers’ emails and newsletters.  Ask monthly about your child’s progress.  Inform of any problems at home.  Thank the teacher if your child had any achievements.  Teachers encourage dialogue!

2.  “Reinforce at home that school rules are to be obeyed.”  Let  know you’re supporting them at home.  

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3.  “When you communicate with a teacher, keep an open mind.”  Gather all the facts first: then, when you speak to the teacher, remain objective, but stand your ground.  Never be accusatory. For those of us who have angels with shoulder devils in our homes, remember that teachers help us, so we need to help them.  Teachers are husbands, wives and parents, too.  They have good days and bad days, too.  They have shoulder devils, too.  With parents working together with teachers, the partnership will succeed.

Anna Chou is a freelance writer and attorney who resides in Westchester County with her husband and two children.