3.) Keep us informed. Death in the family, a divorce, or family trauma affects children at school. While they may seem “fine” at home, it’s likely their behavior will change while in our classroom. You don’t have to divulge details, but simply letting us know that your child or family is going through a hard time is enough to let us know that we need to be sensitive to your child’s needs. This is especially true with younger children, who tend to grow teary and upset and aren’t always able to express their emotions appropriately. If it’s a confidential situation, don’t be afraid to state that. If there’s something we can do to help (give less homework, relax on a due date, etc.) ask us. But, like most things in life, we can’t help if we aren’t aware.
4.) Teachers are people, too! I had a child who was particularly difficult last year, and in the course of our interaction, I gave her mother my cell phone number. She proceeded to call me late at night and as early as 5:30 in the morning to discuss her child. Other parents have called me names, yelled at me or made grand assumptions about my character without ever speaking to me. The golden rule applies to us, too: Treat others as you wish to be treated. Remember that we have families of our own, struggles, good days and bad days. We like to be treated kindly and spoken to like the adults we are.
This also applies to response time. I have 103 students this year. This means that it’s unlikely that I can report on the fly about how your child did on their last book report or what their test grade was. It also means that it’s unlikely I’ll answer your email within three hours of receiving it. Treat contact with a teacher like a business contact: 24 to 48 hours is appropriate response time for emails and phone calls. Remember that if you’re contacting the front office, many of us don’t check in there but once a day in the morning or afternoon. Most of us have very limited break time during the day, and usually need to do things like use the restroom or drink some coffee. Give us a chance to respond. The same thing goes for breaks, summers and holidays. As a rule of thumb, I check my work email once over any break we have, usually the night before returning. Expecting a response about grades over Christmas break is not realistic -- again, we have families, obligations, and things we enjoy outside of school, too.
5.) Give us the benefit of the doubt. Your kid comes home and says we called him stupid. Your child has an F on a paper and says it’s because we don’t like them or we didn’t teach them something. What’s your first response? If you said calling our administrator to “get to the bottom of things” than please slow down. First of all, call us, email us or make an appointment to speak to us in person before or after school. Use kind language, and simply ask us about the incident or grade. Let us explain, and then clarify any questions or concerns by asking more questions, or telling us what your child relayed to you. Most of the time, teachers are willing and able to explain themselves. As harsh as it may be to hear, your child may have a skewed perception of the incident, or it may be a simple miscommunication.