Sometimes parents and teachers don’t see eye-to-eye. Parents may think their kids are angels; teachers may think parents don’t want to hear their perspective about their student. Either way, there are certain things that parents never want to hear teachers say, just like there are things teachers never want to hear parents say.
So, in the spirit of getting along, as a mom and a teacher, I thought I’d share some perspective. Both sides of the coin are tough jobs, but no matter which one you’re on, being polite and accommodating is a must.
Parents NEVER want to hear teachers say…
- “We need to have a conference about your child.”
This is normally said when there is an ongoing issue at school that needs to be addressed. Keep in mind the teacher isn’t saying you have a bad kid. Try to focus on the fact that your child’s teacher, more likely than not, really loves your kid, even though he/she may have thrown a pencil at another student for the millionth time today.
- “Is there something going on at home that we should know about?”
It may sound like your child’s teacher is being accusatory, but please try to look beyond that. Teachers try to problem solve bad behavior and academic issues every day, and getting the whole picture, including what your child’s life at home looks like, can really help them make the school day fun and productive.
- “Are you seeing the same thing at home?” or “Has this been a problem before?”
This is another one of those things that sounds accusatory but has good intentions. If your teacher is aware you know about an issue and are addressing it at home, it helps a lot. If you have seen this particular problem rear its ugly head before, tell them! That way, you know you both are on the same page.
Teachers NEVER want to hear you say…
- “My child is not good at x, y, or z.” or “My child dislikes *insert subject here*”
You may be sitting and shaking your head, appalled or even disbelieving that a parent would say something like this about their child. It actually happens often. At parent/teacher conferences or open house, some of you may think you’re doing the teacher a favor by letting them know your child isn’t very good at math or reading or writing. However, please don’t say things like that, especially in front of your child. It’s demoralizing. It isn’t helpful or encouraging, no matter what you intended it to be. Instead, tell the teacher how hard your child has been working to improve their skills and make a big deal about how proud of him you are.
- “Little Johnny is very tired. He was up late. Please excuse him from his work.”
While teachers understand that your kid is tired and couldn’t do the homework last night, please don’t tell them to excuse your child from work that everyone else’s child had to do. It’s just not fair and puts the teacher in an uncomfortable situation with the rest of the students and parents. Instead, ask the teacher in an email or phone call if your child can have some extra time to complete the work. Maybe Little Johnny could turn it in a few days late and still get some credit for it.
- “Cute little Kimmy turned in her assignment, but you gave her a zero and said it was missing. You must have lost it.”
Teachers make mistakes, so, yes, it is a possibility that her paper was lost. However, odds are Kimmy lost her own paper or forgot to turn it in. That doesn’t mean she’s a bad kid! Help Kimmy open up her backpack or binder and go through the papers in there with her. I bet you find it. If all else fails, email the teacher and ask if they could double check their papers; you’re more likely to get what you want if you ask instead of accuse!
Teachers and parents are on the same team. As parents, we love our children unconditionally, and, as teachers, we love our students despite some disruptive things they may decide to do in our classrooms. But, at the end of the day, parents and teachers want their kids to succeed, so we need to try our best to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes before we get angry or frustrated.
What are some things that you have heard a teacher or a parent say that caused a misunderstanding? How did you handle it?