Saturday, 15 November 2014

Resolving Parent-Teacher Conflicts

It's happened to all parents at one point or another, whether it be a negative written comment on an assignment, or a phone call or a conversation during PTA time. She'll say something that will hurt your feelings and that protective instinct kicks in and all you want to do is set the teacher straight. To me a complaint from the teacher is very stressful, and to complain about a teacher very difficult. It took me years to get a grip on how to handle the situation in a way that would actually help the child.

1. Prevention: Probably the best thing to do is to nip a potential issue in the bud. If you think there is a problem, get on top of it before it escalates to the point where the teacher has to intervene. In some cases that may involve including the teacher. 

2. Put your personal emotions aside: The issue with dealing with issue pertaining to our kids is that we are too invested emotionally, and for any positive outcome you must think without those feelings in tow. It is only then you will be able to do the best for your child.

3. Perspective: The first thing to do is to put yourself in the shoes of the teacher. Ask yourself if the complaint (however distressing) is valid, and if not to what extent. Try to visualize the teacher's dilemma from where she stands, in a class full of students.

4, Medium of discussion: Once you have ascertained how genuine the issue is, it is best to approach through the channel you have been approached, so if it is a comment in the diary, then answer through the diary. If it is a call, then call. It prevents an escalation. 

5. Compromise and tone: When resolving conflict, there has to be lee way for compromise. Using a polite tone is always better than a defensive or worse, an aggressive one. If your child is misbehaving then a sorry will not harm you.

6. Crux of the matter: Often an issue faced by the child may have an underlying cause, sometimes not. If there is any doubt that the actions of your child may have an underlying cause like a change of teacher, bullying or anything else then schedule face time with the teacher.

7. Talking to your child: Also very necessary is to talk to your child in a manner where he feels safe and secure. To ask your child why the teacher said so and so can be highly stressful for your child. You need to convince the child that you are on his side and just want to know the truth and why. 

8. Following through: After the true problem has been ascertained, and the course of action decided, make sure you follow through and keep in touch with the teacher. 

Of course there is always the case of the teacher who is resilient and for lack of a better word, biased against you. In such a sad case, if you constantly feel uneasy, ask for a change in section. Or if you just melt her heart with kind gestures, a hello here and there, get your kid to draw a picture for her and keep being polite.