Let me say first that this is not a post about solving every problem you encounter with your child’s school. Schools across the country are so different and unique. Each has their own set of expectations, emotional atmosphere, standards, rules, history, and so on. That’s a little too broad for me to cover. But I can help you learn to manage yourself. The rules of human nature are more general, and these tips can help no matter what kind of school your child attends.
Stay Calm – It’s very natural to feel defensive when a teacher has a problem involving your child. If someone else in the meeting is also acting defensive, you can have some pretty awkward unproductive communication. Your “mother bear” might be fighting to come out. But understand that you can make a strong impression without getting out of control.
Think about my advice a few days ago about using a lower slower voice to make your child really tune in to you. That can work in a professional setting like this as well. You are going to come off looking like you really mean what you say, not a hysterical parent. Plus, this allows you to keep your comments simple and to the point. Fewer words at a slower pace with a lower voice will help the teaching staff tune in to what you are saying. You can set the emotional tone to “calm”.
Show Respect – Parents should have a strong voice about what goes on in their school districts. It’s their kids getting an education after all. However, it’s important to remember that no matter how flustered, shocked, or ticked-off you are, make an effort to show some respect to the school personnel and the school environment. If you go on a tirade in the front lawn when kids are waiting for parents, you might not get too far. If you collect yourself and move your conversation to a more private location, you will give a better impression of a parent with something important to say.
Get The Facts – Before you go off on Mrs Teacher and how she handled a situation with your child, get all the facts. Did anyone else observe what was going on? Based on what you know about the problem, can you see a nugget of truth in it or some possible reasons for how the situation happened? Have you talked to your child? Are there extenuating circumstances that can help explain your child’s or the teacher’s part in the situation?
Are you able to understand what happened from the teacher’s point of view? What facts and understandings will you bring to the table? To get the best outcome, it’s so important to just “stick to the facts, ma’am,” instead of getting wrapped up in emotions. Be ready with some notes if they make you feel more comfortable.
Please come back tomorrow to see the rest of my suggestions about this important topic. It seems I had too much to say on just one post! I’m afraid if I cram it all in here, you won’t soak it in as well. Check in tomorrow for the second half.