5 Strategies to Improve Communication With Teachers
Communication is the foundation of successful relationships. Yet, I would guess that many parents have a story of miscommunication between them and their child’s teacher.
As the pressure increases on teachers to do more with less, communication is more critical than ever.
Every day teachers are bombarded with meetings, paperwork, planning, grading, and numerous other extra duties.
On the other hand, parents are also busy with work, getting kids to soccer, dance, music, baseball, baths, meal preparation, household duties, and various other responsibilities.
Unfortunately, after a long day, both parents and teachers fall into bed at night thinking, “Tomorrow, I’ll email ‘so and so.” But, ‘so and so’ may or may not receive that email. There are simply not enough hours in the day.
However, parent and teacher communication is critical to school success. The reality is there are some teachers that are great at this, and some that struggle.
Regardless of a teacher’s ability in this area, parents must communicate as often as possible with teachers for the sake of their children.
You, as a parent, are your child’s biggest and most important cheerleader. Children spend a lot of time with teachers, which makes communication between you and their teachers critical.
There are a few strategies to keep in mind when talking to teachers.
1) Ask your child’s teacher for his or her preferred method of communication. Some teachers are “old school” and prefer phone calls or face-to-face meetings; whereas, others prefer email. You’re more likely to receive responses if you’re communicating in the teacher’s preferred mode.
2) Respect the teacher’s limited time. Don’t expect teachers to respond or meet with you during their weekends, evenings, or holidays. The best teachers spend as much time as possible maintaining personal balance.
3) Allow 24 hours for a response. Teachers have very little time during the instructional day to answer communication. It’s likely that responding to your communication happens after the teacher’s paid time. Be patient.
4) Understand that your child is not the teacher’s only student. Teachers are expected to do miracles with limited time and resources. Be realistic with your requests.
5) Prioritize communication to issues that most impact your child’s education. The following are good examples of important communication talking points.
- ask questions about homework
- explain situations that could possibly impact your child’s emotions (such as a death in the family)
- describe homework/learning challenges
- communicate big changes such as moving, bullying, and friendship issues
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ~Stephen Covey’s 5th Habit
Perhaps the most important consideration when talking to teachers is to remember to listen. Your primary purpose is either to inform or inquire in order to improve your child’s educational experience. Engaging in power struggles, blame, or accusations will not only damage your relationship with the teacher and may also lead to a negative situation for your child.
Teachers are human. They’re not perfect. But, in most cases, they’ll work hard to provide your child a rich, rewarding experience. However, they need your help. Education is shared responsibility. You can help your child’s teacher by doing your part in maintaining communication.
Give it a try. Oh, and if I may add a 6th tip. Positive notes and/or emails go a long way in building positive rapport. Praise teachers for what they do well. You won’t regret that investment of time.
Do you have any miscommunication stories from which other parents or teachers can learn? Please share what has worked for you in the comment section below.