What Do Parents Really Want From Teachers?
Natalie Schwartz | Teaching
Parents can be overbearing, and working with them can cause the most dedicated teacher to burn with frustration. But from the parent’s perspective, dealing with teachers can be an anxiety-ridden, exasperating ordeal. The biggest problem stemming from the disconnect between parents and teachers is that students are caught in the middle, their potential to advance hindered.
Last month I explored challenging situations teachers face when working with parents in my article “How Teachers Can Work With 5 Difficult Types of Parents.” This month, I elicited input from parents to find out what they feel teachers can do to improve the vital parent-teacher relationship.
You may disagree with the views the parents shared, but by considering their perspective, you can avoid unproductive and unpleasant situations. But more importantly, you can foster the success of your students more effectively.
1. Consider The Parent’s Input.
A father in Baltimore became concerned when his seventh grade son began struggling in math. He soon determined that his son, a slow and methodical worker, was overwhelmed by the workload. When he approached the teacher to discuss the possibility of reducing his son’s workload, the teacher rejected the father’s assessment of the situation and asserted the student needed to pay closer attention in class. After several subsequent conversations, the teacher adjusted his expectations and the student began to thrive. “I believe that the teacher’s initial reaction was to feel criticized,” the father says. “Once he overcame that block and accepted that the issue was our son’s learning style and not the teacher’s competence, he was able to differentiate appropriately.”
Teachers are experts in the field of education, but parents often have inside information about their child’s learning style, study habits and attitude that could be valuable to you. Your goal is to foster each student’s academic progress, and taking the parent’s input into account will often advance your objective.
In his book “The Complete Teacher,” Dr. Robert Rose, Ph.D., offers an anecdote about a conference he had with his twins’ third grade teacher: After a brief greeting, “she launched into all the ‘deficiencies’ she’d found with the twins….What she told us would have been unsettling, and even frightening, if we hadn’t known better….Had this second year teacher asked us questions and listened to us about our children she would have gathered useful information that would have made her job easier and enabled her to do a much better job with our children.”
Dr. Rose says the teacher didn’t request his input about his children because “she was taught to believe that she knew more about them than we did.” A mother in California echoed Dr. Rose’s perception. Commenting on her eighth grade son’s teachers, she says, “So many of the teachers he’s had in this current school think they don’t have to listen, that simply because they’re a teacher they know best or they know everything.”