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Building Positive Relationships Between Teachers & Parents

by Shelley Frost

Building relationships between your child's classroom and home sets her up for a positive school experience. She sees the collaboration between you and her teacher, which may help her perform better at school. Teachers work to build relationships with parents in different ways, but you also play a role in getting to know your child's educators.

Initiate Contact

Waiting for the teacher to contact you means you'll miss out on opportunities to build a relationship between home and school. Between planning her lessons, teaching her class and managing all of the paperwork, your child's teacher is spread thin. You may see her in the hallway or get a mass emailing about upcoming classroom events, but those situations don't allow the teacher to learn more about your family. Reaching out to the teacher in person or through email shows her that you want to build a relationship. She may be more likely to come to you throughout the school year if she knows you are a parent who will respond.

Accept Opportunities

Everyone has a busy schedule, so it's tempting to ignore pleas for help from the school. But those opportunities to get involved help you learn more about your child's teacher in a positive way. Elementary teachers often ask for classroom volunteers -- a chance for you to get into the classroom to see the teacher's interactions with your child. If you can't spend time at school during the day, ask the teacher if you can do anything at home, such as collating papers. School-wide events, such as back-to-school night and school carnivals, give you a chance to interact with the teacher beyond the classroom.

Communicate Back

Teachers communicate with parents in a variety of ways -- newsletters, emails, phone calls, conferences. Instead of just blowing off those communication attempts, use them as a way to strengthen the connection between home and school. Follow up on an item in the newsletter. Ask questions about upcoming classroom activities. A call or email from the school about your child isn't always negative. Instead of ignoring the call, respond to the teacher immediately. Even if your child has a behavior issue, you can work together with the school from the beginning to keep the problem from escalating.

Show Respect

You may not agree with every decision your child's teacher makes, but maintaining respect for her keeps the relationship positive and shows your child how to treat others. Her teacher is human -- she can't always treat the students fairly or accommodate every little request from parents. Before you storm her classroom, take a step back to assess the situation. Your child's account of an incident may leave out relevant details. Instead, ask key questions, gather information and focus on working with the teacher instead of always finding a problem in what she's doing. If the teacher is acting inappropriately, such as using inappropriate language or bullying students, address the situation immediately.

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