By Diane Ferber of the Collaborative Center for Learning & Development, part of the Greenwich Education Group
The importance of the parent/school collaboration to student success
is well documented. When parents and teachers work together, students
earn higher grades and have a more positive attitude toward themselves
and their school.
Parents And Teachers On The Same Team
Every school strives to be welcoming, and both teachers and parents
have the same goal: to help students thrive academically, socially and
emotionally. Yet, this collaboration is not always smooth. As the
school year begins, Diane Ferber, Co-Director of the Collaborative Center
for Learning and Development at Greenwich Education Group, offers
great advice on how to nurture a dream team on behalf of your
child. The parent-teacher relationship requires effort from both
parents and teachers. It’s vital that the relationship
is optimized, trusting and highly collaborative. Keys to accomplishing those goals include starting the relationship well, maintaining open communication and becoming
engaged in the classroom and the school.
Start the relationship with a positive, open mindset
Parents who have had a great experience or negative experience tend to
share their stories. Your child may have been assigned to a teacher
you don’t know, or one with whom a friend’s child had a less than
perfect experience. Remember that all children learn differently, and
individual children will have unique experiences with a given
teacher. Susie may do well with a teacher whose classroom features a
good deal of structure and predictability, while Tom would do better
with a teacher who is flexible and more dynamic in classroom
structure. Your child’s best fit teacher is not the same as another child’s.
Communicate your excitement for the year to your child, and let them
know about your partnership with her or his new teacher and that
all of you are part of your child’s “team.”
Communication is the key element of the parent-teacher relationship
Let the teacher know your preferred method of contact (email? phone?)
and ask your teacher the best way to contact him or her. Inquire when your
teacher is able to review messages and get back to you.
Understand that the teacher may want to talk with you, but may not be
able to discuss your child at drop off or pick up or during the
teaching day without making a plan before hand. Many parents are hurt
when they come to the classroom and approach the teacher during the
day only to find the teacher is unable to focus on them or talk with
them at that time!
Share with the teacher any information you feel will help your
child acclimate and be successful in the classroom. There are many
variables teachers can control in the classroom (seating, reminders,
etc.) that can support your child during the initial transition and
throughout the year.
Make time to read the communication that comes home in Friday folders,
online, etc. from your child’s classroom.When in doubt, reach out. Contact the teacher with concerns, feedback or questions if there is a problem.
We as parents tend to be very protective of our children, and sometimes that emotional intensity can flood our responses. Just as in other situations, don’t hit “send” immediately!
Attend all parent conferences. This creates the opportunity for
sharing information and shows your child the importance of this
collaboration. Even if the partnership is rocky, the conference is an
opportunity to strengthen understanding and build rapport.
Be engaged in your child’s classroom and learning
Rather than correct your child’s work before handing it in (masking
their mistakes and denying the student and teacher the chance to work
on specific gaps and develop weaker skills), celebrate your child’s
effort and talk with her or him about assignments. Let your child know
mistakes are the process by which we learn!
Attend school functions and events. Volunteer in the school and the
classroom to the degree your schedule permits. Both you and your
child’s teacher want what is best for your child.
Your child will benefit from a strong parent/teacher collaboration.
Have a wonderful year! If you have questions, contact Diane at
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