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Talking with Teachers . . . Preparation

Both parents and teachers often feel anxious about talking together, especially when perspectives about the issues at hand conflict. Diversity-related differences of perspective can be especially challenging to negotiate. Here are some ideas that might help if you are feeling anxious or reluctant about talking directly with your child’s teacher:

  • Discuss your concerns with your child and make a plan together.  Kids hate it when you talk to the teacher behind their backs – for good reason.(This applies for children who are grade school age and older -- younger kids probably aren't ready to participate in such conversations.)
  • Examine your own feelings and try to be clear for yourself about what is bothering you, how it’s making you feel, and what you’d like to see change.
  • Try be open to receiving additional information and recognizing that teachers, like most of us, almost always have good intentions and are doing the best job possible given their knowledge, resources, and responsibilities.
  • Practice explaining your concern and expressing your thoughts/feelings about it with a friend or partner. If you have a good relationship, outside the school, with another teacher, that person may be a great resource for processing, practicing, and preparing.
  • Do you know about – or can you find out about – successful programs or approaches? Can you frame your concerns in terms of something that might work better?
  • Imagine for yourself, and then articulate to someone else, what a successful resolution or outcome would look like for you.

Sometimes our responses are so emotionally charged and powerful, that the best we can do is express them. If you are not prepared for an open, problem-solving exchange (yet), but feel compelled to call attention to the problem, consider letting the teacher know that you want to register the impact of the incident/program/material but are not prepared to talk further about it at this time.

Last Updated: 10/22/08