Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Principles for Developing a Good Relationship with Your Child's Teacher

Welcome to Day 2 in my Back to School series!  In case you missed the first day, click here to read about why I am happy to send our girls to our public school.

Up for today, we have...

It shouldn't come as a huge surprise that I have a ridiculous amount of respect/awe for teachers and everything they do!  

I feel like they are kind of celebrities.  

Anyway, I think developing a great relationship with your child's teacher is incredibly important!  You are entrusting your child to this person, so you should want to build trust with him or her and be an encouraging parent.

Please keep in mind that the following 3 points are principles.  Everyone has their own personality, so the way I say things or do things might not fit with you or your child or the teacher.  But, these 3 principles can be tweaked for everyone!

Remember that your child's teacher is a person.
I know.  That's so basic that you wonder why I even mention it.  

But, here's the thing: 

  • Do you have a hard time getting your family out the door in the morning?  If you do, I bet your child's teacher does!
  • Are you ever up several times at night with a sick child?  I bet your child's teacher has.
  • Do you forget to eat breakfast in the morning because you are taking care of everyone else?  I bet that happens to your child's teacher!
  • Do you have difficult coworkers?  Your child's teacher might.
  • Do you feel under-appreciated for all of the hard work you do for others?  You child's teacher might feel that way!

There have been times that Leah's teacher had a substitute because she was home with a sick kid.  So, when I see her, I ask her how her child is feeling. Pretty basic, but it communicates that I care about her and her family.

I ask Leah's teacher how her weekend was.  

If I make cookies or muffins or scones, I send some to school with Leah so she can give some to her teacher.  And not just when it's teacher appreciation week.  Do it any old day!

I remember that teachers are not super-humans (even if it seems like it).  They probably have a rough day sometimes.  They could have issues in their family.  They may feel the pressure of teaching and test scores, etc.

I think sometimes we see people more as the role they play in our life than who they are as a person.  So, I just want to be sure that my attitude towards my daughters' teachers is characterized by understanding, grace, kindness, and compassion...the attitudes I would have towards a friend or that I would want someone to have towards me.

Don't get all crazy!
Here's the doesn't take a lot for a normal mom to turn into a psychotic mama bear.  

This doesn't mean that we neglect being advocates for our children.  Rather, the way we approach a tough situation should be seasoned with grace.  We should ask questions instead of throwing around accusations.  We should assume that there is more than one side to each story.

Isn't that how we want others to treat us?

I had a situation when Leah was in Kindergarten that had nothing to do with the teacher, but it was more of a recess issue.  I really wanted to overreact and get into crazy panic mode.  So, I reined in my psychotic mama bear and sent an email to her teacher that was lighter and not filled with heavy mommy panic.

Here's a snippet:  

Hi Jxxxx!

Leah said you got to go see your son's concert today!  How fun!

So, quickly, tonight Leah mentioned that Nxxxxx has a club and gave her the idea to have a club.  Apparently Leah's little club likes to play puppy together.  Some of the stuff she mentioned about her club seemed harmless, but some was a little concerning like she told Dxxxxx he couldn't be in her club if he wanted Jxx to be in it or something like that.  I'm not even sure how often her little club plays together.  ...  Do you have any thoughts or observations?  The overreacting mom in me was like, "She has a gang!  My daughter has a gang!"  :) Hahaha!

I'm actually going to pick Leah up from school tomorrow, so if it's easier to talk as opposed to respond to an email (I know you're super busy) maybe we can talk quickly then!  

Have a great day!

She responded to my email and then here is part of my response to that:

Did you read Sweet Valley Twins in jr. hi?  That may account for a tiny bit of paranoia on my part :)  She hasn't insisted on wearing a little bit of purple every day, so I think we're safe from that whole thing ;)

Now, obviously there is a lot in those emails that is specific to my personality, so it would be weird for other people to email like me!  

Additionally, this issue came up in December, and I had already developed a great rapport with Leah's teacher, so I could email her with a lighter, not too crazy tone.

I also was respectful of her time and didn't assume she'd be able to email me a lengthy response.  Believe it or not, Leah wasn't the only kid in the class :)

As you get to know your child's, you'll be able to get a feel for how to communicate with them in a healthy, maybe even fun and encouraging way!

I can only begin to imagine the emails that teachers get, so if my emails can brighten up her day, I feel like that's a really good thing!

Do what you say you are going to do.
This is pretty simple.

Did you tell the teacher you were going to come in and help with centers on Wednesday morning?

Then come in and help with centers on Wednesday morning!

Be on time!

A late volunteer can really throw a monkey wrench into the timing of the day.

Obviously there are exceptions to this, like if you have a sick kid or if you have lice (yes, that happened at our house).  So, don't come if you're going to spread germs or share lice.

Remember:  it's cool to be reliable!

I hope that your school year and your relationships with your child's teacher gets off to an amazing start!

Tomorrow I'll be sharing 4 after school snack ideas and on Friday I'll be talking about treating and preventing the 4 letter word that strikes fear in this mommy's heart (lice).

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