It's impossible to overstate the importance of having a strong, clear line of communication with your child's classroom teacher. While your child may be surrounded by a phalanx of special educators, para-professionals, and administrators, it is the classroom teacher that has the most direct impact on the hours spent at school.
Your efforts to be your child's best and strongest advocate and the teachers need to balance the needs of all of the children in his or her care and meet state and federal guidelines could put the two of you on a collision course.
Here are 5 tips for communicating with your child's classroom teacher in a clear and respectful way:
1. Make observations, not accusations: Start with the facts. Approaching the conversation with an authentic desire to learn more about the concerning situation means being open to hearing a new perspective. i.e. "We have noticed Josh's grade for participation has fallen this semester. Could you tell us about what you are seeing in the classroom?"
2. Give unexpected kudos: Teachers often only hear from parents with criticisms and concerns. In order to establish strong lines of communication be sure to reach out to your classroom teacher when he or she has done something that you appreciate. If you are really pleased, be sure to let the administrator know, as well.
3. Nest your concerns between compliments. i.e. "I really appreciate the attention you have given my son this year. I have become concerned that he may be getting left behind in language arts. We feel so lucky to have you as his teacher and I know we can work out a solution together."
4. Be clear about your needs: With so many needs to balance, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. By being clear about what your child's needs are being a strong and respectful advocate, you are modeling behavior for your child as well.
5. See yourself as part of a team: Hopefully, you and the teacher have the same goal which is to provide opportunities for growth and development for your child. Ask questions that will help you to support what is going on in the classroom at home. Pay attention to the language that the teacher uses and try to be consistent.
Aaron Weintraub, MS runs child-centered social skills groups with a focus on children and teenagers with Pervasive Developmental Disorder,Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and Shyness. Strengths-based approach in a community based setting. Groups available in Tolland, Mansfield, Willimantic, Hartford, Vernon and Coventry Connecticut.