Six Tools for Talking with Teachers


Teachers do so much for our kids. During school hours, they often see a different child than the one we see at home, and notice both wonderful qualities as well as areas of growth. There will undoubtedly come a time when we may feel the need to speak with the teacher about a problem that our child is experiencing, whether at the teacher’€™s request or at our own. Here are six tools for making the most of a parent-teacher meeting.

  1. Book time to meet with the teacher. Just before or just after class is not a time when the teacher can give you or the issue at hand the full attention it deserves. While it may feel that your situation is the most important thing in the world, your child’€™s teacher has 29 other students who need to ask, ‘Just one small thing.’
  2. Remember that in almost all cases, all adults in the parent-teacher meeting want the best for the child. When we hold this to be true, we enter the meeting in a state of hope for a solution rather than in a position where our defensiveness might use up any energy we had for the meeting in the first place.
  3. Make a list before you enter the meeting. For many adults, sitting across the desk from a teacher reminds them of being held after class when they were kids. To be sure that emotions don’€™t rule the meeting, take some time before you get there to write down the facts and the feelings involved.
  4. Check your facts. There is often more than one truth; and it is worth remembering that a 6-year-old’€™s version of a story may not be complete. When discussing situations with teachers, a great sentence starter is, ‘The story we heard from Jenny after school yesterday was… Can you please share your point of view?’
  5. Don’€™t leave without a solution…or at least a plan for a solution. Often parent-teacher meetings are short. Keep track of the time in the meeting and be sure to leave a couple of minutes to determine what the next steps will be.
    • Who is doing what?
    • When will you next be in touch to see how things are working?
    • Who will contact whom? (We suggest that the parent follows up)
    • How will the contact happen? (email, phone, note in the agenda)
  6. Involve your child when possible. Having a bunch of adults discussing a child’€™s issue without the child may well result in the child taking absolutely no responsibility for the issue. When possible, have the child involved in the meeting and be sure that all adults are clear with the child about each person’€™s role in the solution, especially the expectations and consequences for the child as you move forward.


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