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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Teaching Well: Partnering with Parents

To teach well, it's imperative to partner with parents.

That being said, it's not always easy to partner with parents.

Why?

As parents we love our children so much that sometimes we can't imagine that they might detour from a positive path. Therefore when we receive a note or call from a teacher, we may defend our child first and think poorly of the teacher.

On the other hand, if we feel our children have been judged inappropriately or that a teacher acted without the full story, we want to make sure that our child is treated with fairness and justice. We know that it's important to advocate for our children, and usually those that speak up are heard and responded to.

So, as teachers, we think a lot before we contact a parent. In fact, there may be times that a teacher should contact a parent, but doesn't because they don't want to face the consequences of a parent who may not respond with respect or partnership. Yet, to teach children well, it's important that teachers and parents work together to best support every child. When that happens, the program for a child develops with strength.

What can teachers and parents do to foster this invaluable parent-teacher relationship when it comes to teaching every child well?

First, it's important that teachers respond frequently to student efforts, and as much as possible, teachers should look for ways to share positive, uplifting response more often than corrective, disciplinary response. It's also important that educators use respectful conflict resolution techniques when issues arise.

Next, it's important, that parents understand a teacher's position. In some cases, such as the situation with classroom teachers, a teacher is tending to many learners at once which creates expectations that all learners wait their turn, speak with respect, help each other, and participate with their best effort.

Further, when issues arise, it's important that both teachers and parents take the time to see all sides and put the child first asking the question, How can we work together to help the child experience school with success?

As a teacher I've come to value the role of parents greatly in schools. I listen to their words and regard their thoughts and ideas with respect and depth. As a parent I am grateful to the many, many teachers who have invested in my own children and found ways to encourage and inform their learning and life.

Partnering with parents is not a simple science, but it's a focus that becomes much easier and more successful when we move forward with respect, honesty, and collaboration putting the child's current and future success, happiness, and learning center stage as we work together toward continued positive growth and development.