How to build a positive partnership with your child(ren)'s teacher! Post #1 of the "How to Talk Teacher" series Building a positive relationship with your child's teacher is so important. Sometimes these teachers have the privilege of being with our kids more waking hours than we do! Teachers work hard! And did you know they are also human? Many of them have kids at home and are juggling all kinds of responsibilities including their own children's homework and school life when they leave the classroom. Learn from me as Teacher and Mom, what to do and what not to do!
If your child comes home with a crazy story, don't assume it's true! Remember kids are reporting after a full day with many events. It's totally plausible for them to get parts of the story wrong. Depending on their age it may be developmentally expected that they are still working on perspective taking, not exaggerating and yes, they may be lying (this can be a normal phase of experimentation). Young children don't always understand that lying has consequences including you perhaps accusing their teacher of something!
My first year of teaching, I received an angry voicemail from a parent. It said something like this:
"I'm really upset so and so came home and told me that he needed a plain white t-shirt for tomorrow's class. I'm a single mom and work full time and it's not appropriate to expect me to provide this with no notice!"
What actually happened: I reminded the class that we had an outdoor field trip the next day and they should dress warmly. I then asked for examples of appropriate clothing. One little girl suggested she wear her new plain white turtleneck under a sweater. Her peer heard that as needing to wear a plain white shirt. Boy was that mom embarrassed when I called her back to explain!
Ok, this is my mommy oops! My daughter got diagnosed with a serious food allergy in first grade. I was really scared after she had a really bad reaction to some cashews! A few weeks later the class was making gingerbread houses. The teachers asked for the families to bring in nut free candy. I volunteered to help. When I came in I was horrified to see that over half of the candy had labels that said "may contain nuts." This was a big NO from our doctor and the other volunteers were about to put it in front of my daughter to use.
Instead of having a calm discussion with her teacher, I wrote an email in an anxious state saying that if I hadn't been there Ruby would have been at risk of a deadly reaction.
Because I didn't discuss or ask questions and I made assumptions, I didn't know that the teacher had spent an evening of her free time researching safe candy at the grocery store and asked parents for those specific brands. The requests had not been accommodated, yes that was a safety concern, but I should have worked with her teacher, not accused her. Guess what: we never got that positive relationship back and for the end of the year picnic she asked that I send in Ruby's food because she didn't think she could meet my expectations.
Do you have a parent or teacher cautionary tale? Comment below. Don't forget to subscribe for the latest blog updates!