A parent sent me this…
“What do you do if your child’s school wants the parent to stay out of it? I find myself trying really hard to stay out of it, and let my child contact the teacher directly. I will help him remember to do so, and help him formulate an email, but I’ve found push back if I contact the teacher for clarification.”
This is SO frustrating and I see it all too often.
Don’t stay out of it! That teacher does not get it. You care about your kid, so do anything you have to in order to make sure their needs are met. Be the squeaky wheel. Communicating with a teacher is good. You are simply seeking clarity so you can support your child.
The reality is that many children have not developed the skills necessary to know how to advocate for themselves! Why can’t these teachers get this through their skulls. Self-advocacy is extraordinarily complex! I appreciate teachers who compassionately help kids learn to advocate, but this feels like the opposite.
Listen, there are countless phenomenal teachers out there. They are dedicated, hardworking, kind. But make no mistake, there are plenty of teachers who don’t get certain kids! It astounds me how ignorant they are about learning differences, but I see it often with the kids I coach, with kids who struggle with executive function.
Now, you do have to be considerate of the teachers when you contact them. They are in fact underpaid, undervalued, overworked, work in a dysfunctional and outdated system, they are under-resourced, have too many students, etc.. Many of them have had negative experiences that may influence them – they may have been attacked by parents in the past, they may get tons of long emails they have to respond to, and they have very little time to do these things on top of the exhaustive hours they put in. So keep these things in mind, but contact them anyway when you need to.
Here are some tips:
- Make your email quick and to the point.
- Start by connecting: “Hey Ms. Smith. Hope you are well.”
- Ask your questions. Remember this rule, you are always seeking some sort of clarity. “I need clarity on ___.”
- End with, “Thanks for your time”.
- If they don’t respond, resend it the next day and say, “I know you’re busy, but I need a quick response as soon as you can so I can support my child. Thanks for understanding.” And CC it to a school counselor, spouse, admin, or other person just to help with accountability, so they respond.
Look, you’re doing your best to help your kid. Follow your gut and do what you need to do.
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