The Smart Way to Talk to Teachers

Teacher Tips

It's never easy to receive bad news about your child. We asked teachers how they wish parents would handle this delicate situation.

  • Do make time to talk. If the teacher calls you when you can't give her your full attention, ask whether you can call back at a more convenient time.
  • Do take notes. "It will be easier to remember the teacher's suggestions if you write them down," says Valorene Young, a first-grade teacher at the Ashley Elementary School, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
  • Don't interrupt. "Teachers think long and hard before they make a phone call, and they want to express their concerns completely," says Pauline Wahl, a teacher in Minot, North Dakota.
  • Do share your ideas. "No one knows your child as well as you do, so if you have strategies that the teacher can use to help your child, she wants to hear them," says Beth Irving, a reading teacher at Woodside Elementary School, in Peekskill, New York.
  • Don't look for a quick fix. Take time to digest what the teacher has said and talk it over with your family. "Set up a time when you and your husband can meet with the teacher, or at least follow up with notes, e-mails, or phone calls to ask how everything is going," says Young.
  • Don't get defensive. The conversation should focus on helping your child, not on blaming anyone. The teacher needs your support to resolve the issue.

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