How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

There as been so much talk in the press lately about teachers being disrespected at school by helicopter parents and now even lawnmower parents (yes that's a thing now apparently).  When I told my teaching buddy about 'lawnmower parents' she replied '...are we the lawn in that scenario?'. That pretty much sums up how teachers feel about our relationship with parents. It can be tricky at best. 

In the past, teachers were some of the most highly educated in the community and were therefore treated with respect. When teachers contacted parents about behaviour issues, late or missing homework or poor academic performance, parents would turn to their children to ask them to explain what went wrong. 

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

Today, when teachers contact parents they are often (not always) met with the denial ("It wasn't him!"), lack of insight ("He always does his homework!") or flat out accusations ("My child isn't doing well because they don't like you!"). If you reflect on the parents you have to have regular contact with, you know these can be difficult conversations because teachers are just not believed or trusted in general today. 

Right now, many teachers are enjoying their long deserved holiday break. When they return, many will face a gauntlet of angry and accusatory parents wanting answers to why their child didn't get an A on the last report card. 

So what to do.

You can't control these type of parents. Many have often decided early on that their child's teacher is the problem and nothing you can say or do will change that.

However, what you can do is reflect on the parents that DO make a difference

As I was mulling the inevitable upcoming parent teacher meetings when school returns, my mind wandered to those OTHER parents. The ones we don't talk about as much to the public press. 

I have a lovely student, let's call him John, who is a funny character. He arranges and rearranges his desk every day. Comes early to sit in the room for some quiet time. Stands with me on playground duty to chat every day. John is a sweetie but his parents are even lovelier. I've had many chats with both his parents who are very careful to keep John in his place. In fact I often make excuses for him "He was a little distracted I think.." and his parents tell him to "focus properly!". They set high standards for him, are open to discussion and we have a little laugh from time to time. They respect the work I do with their child and want him to succeed on his own terms.

Last year I had a student who struggled to get organised and write clearly. His mother would say "What can I do to help him at home?" and guess what.. she actually did a wonderful job. It made my job so much easier! She stood over him to make him re-do his homework over and over till it was perfect. She was busy and couldn't always find the time but her efforts were huge and TOGETHER we made a difference. 

There are lots of my student's parents who I have regular discussions with and over the years I still see those parents around the school and smile. We were a team, working together to help their child. 

The success or failure of the child is only as good as the team can be. 

So parents, before you march down to your child's school to confront their teacher over some perceived slight, do them the courtesy of the benefit of the doubt and ask yourself 'What am I doing to help my child?' If their teacher tells you they missed homework, ask yourself 'How can I help my child get more organised?' If they receive a D on their English grade, ask yourself 'How can I help him to do better?" Work with, not against your child's teacher and you may find a shared respect developing.

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

Teachers, try not to let confrontational parents distract you from what teaching is about and don't forget those unsung heroes. Those parents working hard behind the scenes, striving to help their child so that together you can make a difference.

How to get the most from your parent teacher relationship. Tips and hints for building a solid relationship with your student's parents.

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