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How to get along with your child's teacher

Tips from a teacher on dealing with the "other adult" in your child's life

by Amy Estes  |  20040 views  |  4 comments  |        Rate this now! 

One of the most memorable moments of my first year of teaching was a phone call from a parent.  After discussing her child’s failing grade, she stated that her child didn’t like me.  I apologized, and said that while there may have been a personality clash, I cared about her child’s success.  She replied, “He be sayin’ you a b*tch… FO REAL!”  My wit got the best of me, and I replied, “Well, he’s gonna fail my class… FO REAL!”  We were able to laugh about it later, but for many teachers and parents, working together can be difficult.

Being a parent, your natural instinct is to want to protect your child the best you can.  No parent wants to hear that their child is struggling in school, socially or academically, and often times, they assume that the teacher is to blame.  While there are some “nightmare teachers” out there, the truth is that nearly all of the teachers I know genuinely care, and want your child to succeed.

If your child is school-age, you’ve probably encountered a variety of teachers, or you will soon.  Some of your kid’s teachers will be fabulous -- your child will love them, and will learn and grow immensely in their classroom.  Others may not have quite the same affect.  Whether your personalities “clash”, you have a genuine concern or your child just plain doesn’t like the teacher, here are ten tips on getting along with the “other” adult in your child’s life.

1.) Make contact.  Teachers want and need to get to know the parents of their students.  Attend back to school night, parent conferences, or open house.  If your child’s class takes field trips, try and chaperone if possible.  If work or other obligations prevent you from doing that, make a phone call or send an email.  Introduce yourself, and let us know how best to get in touch with you and anything important we should know.  By opening communication early on in your relationship with the teacher, you make them much more likely to alert you to any issues early on, to report good things and to involve you in their child’s life at school.

2.) Introduce your child.  Tell us what you think we deserve to know.  For example, I had a student who had a severe hearing problem, but his parents didn’t want him to be treated differently or wear a hearing aid.  When I inadvertently seated him in the back of the room and he stopped doing his work, his parents were insistent that I change his grades.  Simply moving him to the front of the room allowed him to hear without being embarrassed, and allowed me to be much more effective.  Does your kid struggle with reading?  Get embarrassed easily?  Despise algebra?  Let us know how we can best serve your child.

About the Author

Amy Estes has been teaching English for several years in the Sacramento, CA area. When she's not lesson planning or grading papers, she loves time with her boyfriend, reading, writing and coffee.

Read more by Amy Estes

4 comments so far...

  • But I'll add to my post from last year; she wouldn't take that woman's class again. Just like I didn't take my 9th grade teacher when he came up again in 11th. I was told the other class was full so I DID drop out of the honors program; for about a month.
    I was pulled out of English during that time more than once to "talk" with my guidance counselor about it. I was firm. Calm, but firm. Finally they found space for me in the full class (I had the teacher for a different subject and based on my work there over the month he was fine with having me in his English class as well). And I moved without incident. But no way was I voulntarily repeating a horrible experience and no way my child will either.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 15th September 2010

  • I totally understand what both of these parents are going through, My son's first day was uncomfortable, his teacher did not introduce herself she had a angry look on her face like she did not want to be there. Also she was pregnant and she was just disgusted looking at the students.I tried to pull my son out her class immediately.It did not work out and she saw my disgust and we were unpleasant to each other on the first day what a disaster. T.Woods

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by NYCMOM1 on 11th September 2010

  • I agree that teachers must be respected, but they are not perfect or infallable. I have had very uncomfortable and bortderline aggressive encounters on the elementary level with teachers for both of my children. One child is quiet, beautiful and enrolled in the gifted and talented program. The other is a little rambunctious, but still a sweet natured little boy. I have found that with three of these teachers, if I dare ask a question regarding any decisions made, I am met with a very harsh and sarcastic tone that is completely unwarranted. I feel they have a policy to meet any disagreement with coming down hard and ready to intimidate. After all who am I, and what am I going to do about it. They have a principal to back them up and who do I have? I just have to stay up night after night worrying about how to stradegize the best way to look out for my children without pissing off some teacher who can try to take it out on them later. I don't feel too bad for you. YOU signed on for it and if you didn't expect for people to look out for their kids, maybe should have chosen not to work in this field. I have a very hard time trying to understand how I, as a reasonable person who writes the checks, volunteers three times a month to work can never get on a field trip or be invited to read a story to the class. I have also had my child dismissed to me after field day injured and no note or calls. I've also heard from your fellow teachers that yes, teachers can be mean to the kids when their parents complain. I'm not sure you could begin to understand what goes through the mind of a stressed worried parent when all you have is your boyfriend , your reading, and your coffee.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by ruthanne on 24th May 2010

  • #10 is good advice though sometimes you do have to change teachers. I had a horrible 9th grade year, tried everything with a teacher who made it clear that I didn't belong and there was nothing I could do to improve except try to figure it out, with no assistance from him (it was an honors class and while I tested in, I was the only kid who hadn't been in an honors class before). He was an out and out bully and while I managed to survive and get a B- (which was treated like an A- in regular class) I swore I'd rather drop honors than deal with him again.
    This past year my daughter actually had a teacher who openly disliked her, it was clear to ANYONE who talked to the teacher how she really felt about my kid. But this year she can learn the lesson about some people, no matter what you do, won't like you but you have to deal sometimes.
    BUT, if she had a teacher like that in 7th grade I'd yank her, even if it meant taking a sabattical and home schooling because in our city, a bad 7th grade means you don't get into a good high school. So we couldn't have that "suck up and deal" mentality then.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Mich on 28th July 2009