Y!: 10 Things You Should Never Say to Your Kid’s Teacher

22 08 2012

This is a pretty good list. A lot of these don’t bother me all that much, but it could be that I’ve heard them so much that I’ve become desensitized. That, and I have a pretty thick skin and have learned not to take these things personally.

It’s still something parents could stand to read. It might foster better communications and relationships between parents and teachers.

– dEV

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By Sarah Stebbins: Woman’s Day | Parenting – Tue, Aug 21, 2012 4:54 PM EDT

As a parent, you know that advocating for your child is in your job description. So when an issue arises with the person who’s molding his or her young mind, you’re going to speak up. But it’s important to choose your words carefully. “As with anyone whose service you depend on, it’s in your best interest to avoid coming off as too critical or demanding to your child’s teacher,” says Suzanne Tingley, a former teacher, principal and superintendent, and author of How to Handle Difficult Parents.“Expressing your concerns in a neutral way usually leads to a more constructive conversation and a better outcome for your kid.” Read on to learn which statements, however well-meaning, can land you in the “troublemaker” category.

“My son says you don’t give him enough time to finish his tests. I’d like to hear your side of the story.”

Laying out the situation and asking for the teacher’s “side” may seem like a diplomatic approach, but to the teacher it reads as an attack, followed by a twist of the knife. “The kicker is the second part because it suggests you are mediating between two equals, like siblings who can’t get along,” says Tingley. A better tactic: “Jake seems to be struggling with his tests. What are you seeing?” When you start from a place of information-gathering, as opposed to putting the teacher on the defensive, you’ll likely get a fuller picture of what’s going on, says Tingley. (And you’ll save yourself the embarrassment if it turns out your son has been doodling during every test.) From there, you and the teacher can decide on the best way to address the problem. 

“Henry is acting out because he’s bored in class.”

“As a teacher, you spend your life trying to make school interesting and challenging,” says Carolyn Bower, a former kindergarten teacher in Bangor, ME. “When someone says class is boring, it means you haven’t done your job.” The statement also may not be entirely accurate. “Parents often say this in response to a teacher bringing up a behavior problem, when the actual issue is a lack of self-control on the student’s part,” says Tingley. So instead of starting off with an excuse, find out what’s really going on and promise to speak to your child. If you truly believe he’s not being challenged, steer clear of hurtful generalizations and mention a specific problem and solution: “Henry seems to have the multiplication tables down. Could we give him something more challenging?”

“My child would never lie. If she says she handed in the paper, she handed it in.”

Here, you’re implying that the teacher misplaced the paper or is bluffing-which are both places you don’t want to go. As hard as it is to hear, “kids sometimes lie when they’re feeling cornered,” says Tingley. Even if that’s not the case with your conscientious student, acknowledging the mix-up and suggesting a solution is the best way to help your cause. Try: “Amanda says she turned in the paper. I don’t know what happened to it, but I’d hate to have her take a zero. Can she hand in something late?”

“We’re going on vacation for a week. Can you put together a packet of my daughter’s work so she doesn’t fall behind?”

You may think you’re doing the responsible thing, but unfortunately, this typical request is a bit insulting. “You’re implying you can replace teaching with a packet of worksheets,” says Jan Copithorne, a middle school special education teacher in Highland Park, IL. On top of that, “it’s a lot of extra work to anticipate everything that will happen in class over a week and put it together for one child.” Because kids miss so much when they’re kept out of school, Copithorne advises against pulling them out for an extended period, unless there’s a truly important event or a family emergency. If you’re set on your plans, ask the teacher for a general overview, like what chapters will be covered in each subject, and accept that your child will need to play catch-up when you get home.

“I know my son doesn’t want to take your honors class next year, but he needs it for college so I’m insisting he sign up for it.”

Some kids need a little nudge; others know their limits. You probably have a pretty good idea where your child falls, so be honest with yourself, then ask for the teacher’s opinion-not her endorsement-about signing up for advanced classes. “No teacher wants to see a student forced into a place he doesn’t want to be,” says Tingley. (And no parent should, either.) “What often happens is the kid who isn’t yet ready for the challenge ends up getting demoted to a regular class, which then feels like a failure,” says Tingley. Karen Patterson, a high school language arts teacher in Upper Arlington, OH, has also seen students who sign up for too many high-level courses “absolutely self-implode.” Sometimes, “a kid may love and want to take advanced history and language arts, but Mom is making him take advanced math too,” says Patterson, who advocates a less-is-more approach, pointing to the benefits of a lighter workload: more time for extracurricular activities, which also look great on college applications. 

“Why do you give so much homework?”

Your daughter has been up late every night working on a book report and presentation, both due in the same week for the same teacher. So naturally this is the first thing you want to blurt out at the next parent-teacher conference. The reason you shouldn’t is because you are in effect saying, “You don’t know how to do your job” and “Why don’t you care about my child’s well-being?” says Tingley. Instead, phrase your question this way: “Julie’s been having trouble getting everything done. Are other kids having trouble, too?” Referencing the rest of the class depersonalizes things and can provide you, and the teacher, with some helpful perspective. For instance, if everyone is struggling, the teacher may realize that her expectations are too high. (If she doesn’t, feel free to take your concerns to the principal.) If instead it sounds like your child is the exception, discuss getting her some after-school help or moving her to a different class.

(Full Story)

http://shine.yahoo.com/team-mom/10-things-never-kid-39-teacher-163700676.html

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