The end of the school year leaves many people with emotions running high. The stress of report cards, the behaviors that can start up when summer is on the horizon — everything can leave people feeling a bit more frazzled.

At some point in your child’s academics, there will likely be a time when you need to talk to their teacher, and it won’t be about how perfect your child is as a student. But just as you don’t want to immediately start yelling at your child when they come home with a “bad” note, you don’t want to start yelling at their teacher, either. New Vision Charter School in Loveland has some tips to help you navigate this kind of situation. It might feel like the moment that every parent dreads, but when handled appropriately, talking with your child’s middle school or elementary teacher might turn out to be one of the most positive conversations you have all school year.

Listen First

If your child comes home with a note or they’re upset about something that happens, listen to them first, without judgment. The last thing you want is your child to feel like they can’t come to you when something’s wrong. Hear them out before you start taking any side (though ultimately, your child should know that you’re always on their side — even when they make mistakes and face consequences, you’re still trying to help them).

Secondly, you should also listen, without judgment, to what their teacher is saying. Remember, being on your child’s side means you’re on their “side” for their overall growth and well-being — this can absolutely mean agreeing with their teacher. Before you start forming an opinion, take the time to fully listen to both your child and their charter school teacher.

Assume Positive Intent

Parents can very quickly think “I bet my kid was acting up again, they’re always getting into trouble.” They can just as quickly jump to the conclusion that their child’s teacher doesn’t understand them, or that they’re being unfair.

Productive outcomes cannot be reached if positive intent is not assumed. The second you start thinking someone is immediately in the wrong and they did something intentionally negative, it will be a lot harder to come to a resolute conclusion — and it’s unfair to both your child and their teacher.

Put yourself in both parties’ shoes and remember that people are imperfect. Your child cannot be expected to be perfect all the time, but neither can your child’s teacher. Most teachers will be the first to apologize to a student (or parent) if they think they’re in the wrong, but coming at a teacher in an accusatory way is not the way to solve problems.

Empathize

If you have a problem with your child’s teacher, remember first and foremost that educators have one of the toughest jobs on the planet. There is so much pressure placed upon teachers and a lot of times, the issue you have with your child’s teacher has probably become an issue for a variety of factors, many of which are likely not the teacher’s fault.

Empathize with your child as well. If you get a note about their behavior and you sigh with exasperation, this is not trying to understand their feelings and thoughts. Empathy and assuming positive intent go hand in hand, and are the foundation of positive conflict resolution.

Go to the Source

Feeling frustrated or confused about something? Not sure where the teacher was coming from in a particular situation? Go directly to them. Send a note with your child (or email them) about setting up a time to talk — consider meeting in person if it’s a bigger issue. Come at the whole conversation from a place of understanding, and ask questions that try to understand what happened. Don’t use words like “I want to hear your side of it,” because that immediately puts the teacher and student against each other. Try saying these alternatives:

  • “I received this information and am looking for any additional insights you might have.”
  • “Could you explain the situation a little bit further?”
  • “My child is feeling __________. What suggestions do you have for moving forward?”

Consider Talking to the Principal

For the majority of conflicts, you should always talk to your child’s teacher first. But if you’re not feeling satisfied with the outcome of the conversation or were unable to meet with the teacher, then it’s OK to request mediation with the principal — should you think it’s a pressing matter. Remember, if the event in question is minor or inconsequential, such as your child talking during reading time and they insist they didn’t, it’s probably something you can let go. If it becomes a pattern, then that’s a great time to go back to our previous step and talk directly with their teacher.

As always, use your best parental judgment. You’ll know if your child shares something that requires you to go to the principal first. But for the most part, talking to the principal should only happen if you haven’t been able to resolve the issue with the teacher and it’s impacting your relationship with them, or for something urgent.

Teach Your Child to Self-Advocate

You are your child’s advocate, and have every right to go to bat for them — it’s one of the best feelings as a child to know that their parent has their back. But especially for smaller issues that they might feel are happening in the classroom, such as not getting to be their top choice for teacher helper, encourage and teach your child to advocate for themselves and confront their teacher in a respectful way. Sometimes this can cut out your position as being the person in the middle, and it helps your child practice essential life skills in the process.

Weigh Out the Severity

We kind of touched on this, but if your child is upset and thought that their teacher was being unfair in one instance, it more than likely isn’t an issue. If this is a sentiment that they continue to feel over time, then it’s time to talk to the teacher.

Use your discretion to decide whether a conflict is truly a conflict, if it’s a one-time issue or a pattern, or if it’s a more serious matter. Figuring out if something is a pattern also requires self-reflection — is this teacher saying the same things that every other teacher has said? If so, then there’s a chance that your child’s actions haven’t been truly addressed. It might be time to look at things from a different angle.

Strive For Positive Relationships

Having a good relationship with your child’s teacher, particularly in elementary school, is crucial to your child’s success. This is because your child won’t have just one or two, but potentially three or more adults who all hold them accountable and help them grow. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and when you align yourself with your child’s school and educators, you’re setting them up for a brilliant future.

Whether things are great with your child’s teacher or you’ve hit a bump in the road, remember that having a positive relationship should always be the goal. Parents often revert to immediately wanting to protect and shelter their child from the world. This is completely understandable. But striving for positive relationships also teaches your child how to get along with someone and continue connecting, even in tough times. Not every teacher is going to be your child’s favorite, but this doesn’t mean that the teacher is wrong, or that you still can’t have a positive relationship with them.

Enroll With New Vision Charter School

We started our charter school in Loveland as a group of parents, just like you, who wanted to provide the best in education for our kids. We come at education from a parenting mindset and background, and we believe that collaborating with parents and families is one of our greatest strengths as a school. Look into enrollment for your child today, and set them up for success in their academic and overall future with New Vision Charter School. We look forward to hearing from you!