A Guide for Students and Families - Communicating with teachers about your children
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Washington State Public Education:
A Guide for Students and Families

Communicating with teachers about your children

Most families are a little bit nervous when we go to meet with our children's teachers. We worry that our child might not measure up to the teacher's expectations. If our child is struggling in school, we might be afraid the teacher will think it's because we're not good enough parents.

But teachers are often nervous, too. They might be worried that if our children aren't doing well, we will think it's their fault for not being a good enough teacher. And if we are from a different culture than the teacher, she might be worried because she doesn't know what our customs or expectations are.

Also, teachers chose their careers because they like to work with children. So some teachers are more comfortable with their students than they are with their students' families. We can help them be more comfortable with us if we simply understand that they are human beings who have fears and insecurities just like we do.

Here are some ideas to help us communicate with our children's teachers:

  • Teachers work hard, and they deserve to be thanked.: It's a good idea to begin a meeting with a teacher by thanking him or her for teaching our child. If our child has told us about something he or she really likes about the teacher, the teacher will be pleased to know about it.
  • Teachers are tightly scheduled, so be on time for all meetings.: Whether we are coming to a parent-teacher conference or any other meeting, it's really important to be on time. Also, teachers don't have time for long meetings. It's a good idea to ask at the beginning how much time the teacher has to talk with us.
  • If we need an interpreter, we should ask for one before the meeting.: The school will probably need some time to arrange for an interpreter. Even if our English is pretty good, an interpreter can be helpful. We really need to be able to understand 100% of what the teacher says – and the teacher needs to understand 100% of what we say. We may also want to ask for a little extra time, because working with an interpreter means the meeting will take longer.
  • Teachers like to know about changes in our family that might affect our children.: If there is a new baby, a parent in the military being deployed overseas, a divorce, or a death in our family, it can affect a child's ability to cope with the stresses of school. If our child's teacher knows about it, he or she can offer special support to our child.
  • Sometimes teachers and schools need help to understand unfamiliar cultures and traditions.: If we have customs or beliefs or special holidays that we want our children's school to respect and understand, we need to let the teacher know. If our child's teacher is doing something that bothers us because it runs counter to our culture, we need to explain what it is and why it troubles us.

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