Sep 09

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Back to School: 10 Tips for Communicating with Teachers

Parents often feel intimidated when speaking with teachers and other education professionals about their child; after all, they have advanced education degrees and we are “just” the parent. But, as the parent, you have spent more hours with your child than any teaching professional. Your observations and gut instincts about your child are valuable. These ten tips will help you feel confident and prepared when you communicate with school staff:

  1. Before each meeting or phone call, remind yourself that your involvement is valuable and what you have to say is important.
  2. Write a list of the important points you want to get across. Take the list with you and use it.
  3. Don’t go alone. You can even bring a friend whose only role may be to sit silently, take notes, and offer you moral support just by being present.
  4. Don’t worry about sounding dumb for asking questions. Ask for technical terms to be explained, and restate what you heard in your own words to check in that you understood correctly.
  5. Be assertive but not aggressive. Respect others’ point of view and clearly state your own. This style elicits respect and is more likely to yield an agreeable outcome. An aggressive person does not take others’ viewpoint into account. Though they may force their view onto others, this often elicits anger and avoidance from others that interferes with a collaborative partnership.
  6. If after the meeting is over, you think of things you should have said, don’t kick yourself! Communication takes practice, and it’s rare that you won’t have a second chance. If it’s important, you can always make a follow up call or email.
  7. Be mindful of your nonverbal behavior. Make eye contact, take notes, and lean forward at the table like an active participant. Don’t sit back like a passive observer.
  8. As you think about your child’s needs, decide in advance what your priorities are. What areas are you willing to compromise on and what is non-negotiable?
  9. If you have a complaint, discuss it with the involved person directly. If the resolution is not satisfactory, then discuss it with a higher-up. You will enhance your credibility by first giving the person a chance to explain and make changes.
  10. Share your compliments, too! It’s always so meaningful to parents when teachers give positive feedback about a child; return the favor and let teachers know when you are pleased with what they are doing.

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.drwalisever.com/2012/09/back-to-school-10-tips-for-communicating-with-teachers/

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