Don’t be afraid to email the teacher

I am in an odd position of being both the parent and a teacher.  I recognize now that being a parent has made me a better teacher.  Howeverbeing the parent of an ADHD child and a child with PDD has opened my eyes and my heart in the classroom. 

Today I was faced with a difficult decision.  I truly felt the assignment that my oldest child was given was out of line.  Let me explain a little, in his classroom you get your card punched if you have a behavior issue.  Well last month he had a week of total disorganization.  We had a med change and it obviously wasn’t working.  He lost all of his punches in the first week of the month.  (Now I could write pages about why I hate this behavior system, and suggest a much better one–not today.)  So he didn’t go to the card party.  Instead the kids that didn’t go were given 12 worksheet pages to do, including 2 essays.  He didn’t finish it in the hour at school and worked on it for 5 hours this weekend.  That is not a fair punishment.  He didn’t even complete all of the worksheets after all that time. 

So today I decided to email the teacher.  My purpose was simple.  I wanted to give her feedback that I hoped she would use for self-reflection.  I did not email her trying to get my son out of his assignment.  (I told him that although I thought the assignment was unfair, he was expected to do it.  He will employers that ask him to do something that he considers to be unfair, but he will still be expected to do it.)  She responded in the way that I expected her to, but I am hoping that I planted some seeds in her brain.

So here are my suggestions for when you need to talk to the teacher:

1.  Make an appt.  Never show up during school hours unless it is an appt. 

2.  If you can’t speak about the situation without becoming emotional, consider writing an email.  However, be prepared that you may not like there response or be satisfied with it.  (In my situation I was trying to open her eyes a little bit, not change the outcome.)

3.  Stay calm.  It isn’t helpful if you are too emotional to listen.  If you are confronting the teacher because of something your child says, please remember that your child has probably only told you part of the story. 

4.  Do not assign blame.  Avoid using the “you” statements.  Refrain from saying anything personal about the teacher.

5.  Remember that most teachers truly love your child, but don’t be afraid to advocate for your child when needed.  (My son didn’t need to learn the lesson, “If you complain loudly you get out of work.”  That is why I asked for a longer length of time for him to finish it.  My goal was that next time she will consider that when making the worksheet packets.)

6.  Support the teacher in front of the child.  This is huge!  If you model disrespect for the teacher, than why should the child do any different?

7.  If you can’t resolve the issue, first decide if it is truly worth following up on and then go up the food chain.  Meet with the principal or if your school has on the parent advocate.

Hopefully that is helpful to someone.  My son did finish his assignment today at school during recess, but it doesn’t change the fact that the work was excessive. 

*On a side note, I can’t wait until his teacher has kids someday.  I remember the days when. like her, I thought I knew everything about children! 




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