We all mean well. We really do. Like when you’re 8 months pregnant and someone says to you, “Wow, you look big!” Surely, they are not telling you, “Oh my, look how fat you are!” Of course not. They just had a mere case of Volcano Mouth- erupting before thinking. Again, we all mean well, but we really should learn to control our Volcano Mouths and think before we say something.
This holds true for when we are talking to our child’s teacher. Here are 10 things you should refrain from saying to a teacher!
#1 “My son is bored in your class!”
Ouch! That’s basically telling the teacher you think she is boring. Secondly, how many times have you asked your child, “What did you do at school…or at grandma’s…or at the birthday party…?” And they reply, “Nothing!” We really can’t believe everything our kids say. If you truly think your child is not being challenged, then say that, “Mark seems to feel as though this math unit is easy for him. We want to make sure he is being challenged. What have you noticed in class?” Here you are asking for the teacher’s input and not accusing her, and secondly you are truly addressing your concern- your child being challenged. Along with that, some parents (and kids) claim boredom as the excuse for poor behavior. You wouldn’t accept that as an acceptable excuse for your kids messing up their rooms at home, so don’t accept it for an excuse at school!
#2 “My daughter said that you…
“She said you didn’t give her the homework that is due today.” “She said you didn’t teach her very well.” “She said you wouldn’t let her read the book she wanted.” All these statements make the teacher feel as though you don’t trust her, and put her on the defensive. Because of this, you will have a harder time gaining trust and partnering with your daughter’s teacher. Instead, ask the teacher to clarify. “Maddie is claiming she doesn’t have the assignment, could you please let me know when it was assigned so I can address this issue with her appropriately?” A statement like this assures more trust and builds more foundation for a partnership between home and school.
#3 “Well she doesn’t do that at home.”
If a teacher ever calls you regarding a behavior issue, please know they don’t do it lightly. It is a hard phone call to make and not something teachers enjoy doing. What you can do is listen, ask questions, talk to your child, and then get back to the teacher. It may very well be true that your child doesn’t do that behavior at home, but they are doing it at school. As soon as the child learns mom or dad know about what he is doing at school, it is easier for that behavior to be fixed.
#4 “How is he compared to the class?”
This question is like asking a parent, “Who is your favorite kid?” If your real intention is to know if they are performing above or below expectation, then ask, “How is he compared to the standard?” Or, “Is this typical performance for a third grader?” This is student specific, and more appropriate for a teacher to answer.
#5 “She didn’t get her homework done because…”
Don’t blame baseball practice, piano lessons, or a long weekend on the fact that your child’s homework isn’t completed. In fact, you shouldn’t be making the excuse for your child in the first place. We all know our boss would never accept an excuse like that, so why do we think it’s okay for our kids to make those excuses? There are legitimate excuses as life happens, but a busy schedule is not one of them.
#6 “Johnny’s a trouble-maker, don’t put our son by him.”
Poor Johnny! He already has a bad first impression on the teacher and she hasn’t even met him yet. I completely understand that there will be children who your kids don’t get along with, or whom you feel are not good influences, but the teacher cannot control who makes up his class list. The best thing you can do in situations like this is parent your child at home on how to deal with someone who makes bad choices. Or, if it’s a serious concern, privetly bring it to the attention of the teacher and/or counselor with specific examples. This way it’s a valid concern the teacher will take seriously, and not merely gossip.
#7 “I read on Google that…”
I don’t know many people that would walk into their doctor’s office and say, “I found on Google that this pain means I have blah blah, so you need to give me blah blah.” Sounds ridiculous, right? Of course we Google and research things on our own, but we consult the professional, not tell them what to do. Treat your teacher the same way. “What do you know about Vision Therapy?” or “Do you have any resources for fluency? I found some online, but wanted to know what you suggested too.”
#8 “That’s not how I learned it.”
School is changing. A lot of research has been poured into how kids learn best. Sure, it looks different than the way we may have learned it, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If you are confused, ask the teacher. “Could you show me this new way to multiply?” Or “Why is my son reading a different chapter book than his neighbor?” Both inquire your teacher to share what is going on in the classroom, and something she will gladly explain because you are showing interest in your child’s learning.
#9 “I’ll just come by in the morning.”
Teachers have very little time. Think of all that they have to prepare- whole class lessons, small group lessons, and individual interventions. Plus they have to answer emails, make phone calls, check assignments, attend meetings, and fill out all school necessary paperwork. If you have something you want from the teacher, or something you need to discuss, set up an appointment. Trust me, you will get more out of it than if you just stopped in.
#10 “Principal Smith said that I need to talk to you.”
Going over the teachers head and straight to her boss is very insulting, and most all principals will ask you, “What did your teacher say when you talked with her?” If you have a concern over homework, an assignment or grade, or a conflict in the classroom, go directly to the source- the teacher. You will save time and get more valuable information this way than jumping hoops. There are situations, which hopefully you never find yourself in, where you may need to go straight to the principal. But most likely, you will need to discuss with the teacher, so go to her first.
Again, we all have our moments where things don’t come out as concisely as we’d like. So hopefully your teacher has a little grace and humor- especially if she’s 8 months pregnant and your husband says to her, “Wow- you look a lot bigger than last time I saw you!” Yep, true story, and I just had to laugh (and then throw away the doughnut on my desk!)
*Teachers, what else would you add to the list?
*Parents, what are some things you’ve been meaning to ask, but just don’t know how?