Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Social Issues: Working with Families and Students

When I first started teaching and a parent would call about a child's social issue, I would become very nervous and worried as I felt the parent's call was a criticism of my work or ability to teach the class. Now as a seasoned professional and a parent myself, I know that a teacher cannot be aware of all issues at all times in the classroom and when parents and teachers work together to notice, discuss, and solve social issues, we do better.

As I think about this in reference to a number of social issues that have occurred in the classroom lately, I'm thinking of the following positive strategies in this regard:

  • Social issues are a natural part of any human organization, and when we deal with these social issues with understanding, compassion, and good solutions we help all involved to better their social skills and to improve the sense of team and camaraderie in the group.
  • It's important to deeply understand the social issue by questioning and listening. Good questions include:
    • What did you hear about this social situation?
    • When did or does it happen?
    • What bothers your child/children the most about this?
  • After listening to the situation, then you may need to do a bit more investigation to figure out exactly what's going on. Then you need to speak to the people involved about what's happening and what needs to change to create a peaceful, positive situation rather than a bothersome or harmful situation. 
  • In some cases, the children involved may need deeper coaching with the help of the school guidance counselor and/or others.
Solving social conflicts in ways that build positive capacity for relationship building, teamwork, and collaboration is an important part of the elementary school teaching job. The better we learn to coach this positive conflict resolution and getting along, the better our students will do now and into the future, and the stronger our school team will be. 

Of course, when these issues arise, it's best to deal with the issues sooner than later, and it's best to enlist parental support as they know their children well.