Good communication between parents and teachers is essential to a student’s personal growth and success in school: It positively affects a student’s academic performance, engages the student more with their education, and increases parents’ involvement in their kid’s school life.
Effective parent-teacher communication means talking about the joys and the concerns that come with raising and educating a child. Here’s how to talk about the good and the bad with your child’s teacher, whether in a parent-teacher conference or in the hallway after school.
Parent-teacher conferences are a formal time to sit down and talk about your child’s growth and progress. But sometimes, issues arise at school that require immediate attention, such as:
- Concerns that the classroom or the teacher is not functional
- Behavioral issues
- Learning isn’t taking place as you feel it should be
If you’re concerned that your child is being bullied, take action right away. Sometimes your child’s teacher may not be aware of the situation because the child is seldom bullied by a classmate directly in sight of a teacher. If safety is an issue, err on the side of caution and talk to the teacher or other officials.
Our student handbook outlines the process for dealing with these types of issues: “In regards to specific questions about school rules or particular classroom situations, the Bible (Matthew 18) directs us to speak directly with the person involved. If further discussion is needed, then the principal or pastor will act as the third party. If not resolved, then the board of education will act as the final mediator.”
Here’s what that process looks like: Approach your child’s teacher first. Try to work out the issue together. When you bring a serious concern like those listed above to a teacher, you should expect to be listened to. Expect the teacher to be open to doing whatever needs to be done to fix the problem. The teacher should follow up after your initial discussion within a day or two, and then again in a week or so to make sure that the problem has been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. A teacher can request to have the principal sit in on the meeting.
If you aren’t able to resolve the issue by working with your child’s teacher, take the next step and go the principal or one of the pastors. The board of education is the final step.
It’s important to follow these conflict resolution steps in order. Above all, avoid gossiping about the issue with people who aren’t involved in the situation. Keep in mind the acronym THINK before you speak:
T: Is it true?
H: Is it helpful?
I: Is it inspiring?
N: Is it necessary?
K: Is it kind?
If you have a serious concern, you don’t have to wait for parent-teacher conferences to discuss it. Go to the teacher immediately. Our HLS teachers are available to meet with parents when parents have a concern, whether it’s a quick chat in the parking lot after school or a scheduled meeting time for a larger conversation.
Mrs. C says, “My mom was a teacher in the 1950s. She told a story about another teacher who sat down at a parent-teacher conference and immediately began to talk about all of the ‘bad things’ going on with the child. At the end of it, the parents were quiet, and then the mother asked, ‘Isn’t there anything good about my child?’ In my teaching career, I’ve always remembered that.”
This story illustrates why it’s important for parents and teachers to talk about the joys of raising and educating kids, not just the issues or “bad things.” Each child is created in God’s image and is so precious to Him, and there is so much to celebrate about each and every child.
The mission of Hampton Lutheran School is to help kids grow spiritually and academically. Academics are important, but your kid’s character development and their faith walk with Jesus are even more important. Conversations about your child’s growth and spiritual life are a great time to highlight joyful moments and positive growth with your kid’s teacher.
Look for opportunities to share positive things about your kid during meetings, like parent-teacher conferences. At HLS, your child’s teacher will begin a conference or meeting with a devotion or prayer for the child to set the focus on the child’s well-being and growth. During the meeting, ask questions like, “What joys can we celebrate together? What encouragement or progress do you see in my child? How does my child show Christ’s love for others in the classroom?”
You don’t have to wait for a formal meeting to talk about joyful moments with your child’s teacher. If your child is doing well in an extracurricular sport or activity, let your child’s teacher know so they can encourage and praise your kid. Mention to the teacher that your kid was so excited after a fun activity they did in class. Talk to your child’s teacher about the little things, too: A good grade, a tremendous effort, a helpful hand, or even an encouraging word.