My experience in dealing with teachers is that if I’m sensible, reasonable and co-operative, then so are they. We’re all on the same team. People go into teaching because they want to see kids learn and succeed. That gives them a pretty good start!
For my kids who are academically inclined and social super-stars, I basically just have a friendly relationship with their teachers. I’m sure to let them know that if something less than a “B” is going to turn up on a report card, I would expect to have heard from them first. Otherwise, I’m up front about the reality I’m facing: When it comes to school and teachers, I need to focus on my not so neuro-typical kids. Advocating for them is pretty much a full-time job. Teachers get it.
So, with my kiddos who have a not-so-simple learning profile, communication with their teachers is my TOP priority. I feel like I’ve been effective at learning to deal with my kiddos’ educators, so here are a few of my tips:
Meet before school starts.
I always set up a meeting before the school year starts to ensure the lines of communication are open and the teacher understands my child’s learning differences or exceptionalities. I bring along our own private Educational Consultant, speech therapist or anyone else on our team who can help the teacher best understand our goals. Ideally, the teacher from the previous year is also in attendance.
Have a communication plan.
Will there be a daily journal exchange and a meeting every second week? Whatever is the best communication plan for the team, set it up early and make sure everyone is committed to it. Then everyone knows your expectations and your child will benefit from everyone being on the same page.
Provide the teacher with all speech and language reports, Psych-Ed assessments, doctor’s notes, etc. so that they have all the information. I also put together a booklet outlining key points around my child’s exceptionalities. Included in the booklet are cute photos of my kid, because, well – cuteness!
Don’t be defensive.
Parents, we are not good at this. Listen to the teacher and if there are concerns, take some time to consider them before responding. Sometimes hearing the “not so great” stuff about our kids is hard, but it can be valuable in helping our kids move forward. Being realistic is key.
If you had a bad childhood experience at school, you may still feel those sweats and heart palpitations as you head into the administration offices. Remind yourself that you’re not going down for the strap or to sit in the Principal’s office for recess. You’re there doing the most important job of your life. You’ve got this!