Private school teachers are generally dedicated individuals who accept lower pay than their public school counterparts because they are committed to the mission of private schools and to the way private schools teach . Private school teachers also tend to get to know their students very well, as private schools are generally small, and their student ratio is about 15 students:1 teacher, or even 9 students: 1 teacher in some students. In addition, private schools tend to provide a great deal of feedback and commentary about their students, not simply number or letter grades, on report cards, meaning that teachers need to get to know their students very well.
The culture of many small private schools can feel familial and close, and you may get to know your children’s teachers well. Still, you want to show them that you respect them and that you understand they are committed professionals trying to do the best they can. Here are some guidelines about how to best communicate with your child’s teachers, even in difficult situations:
It can often be tempting to call your child’s teachers often, and, in a heated moment or a moment of worry, you may want to reach them immediately. However, understand that your child’s teachers are usually in the classroom, and they may not be able to get back to you for a while. The best time to call might be after class lets out for the day. Teaching isn’t like an office job, as the teachers are always tied up with students. Be sure to find out when and how the teacher prefers to be contacted, and respect her preferences. Always thank the teacher for her time, and be cognizant of not taking up too much time. Learn more dos and don’ts about parent-teacher communication.
If you have a problem or concern with your teacher, avoid the temptation to go above her head without speaking to her first. If she finds out about a problem from a supervisor, she may feel resentful. Instead, first try to work out the problem with the teacher, and only resort to speaking to a department chair, dean, or advisor if you can’t work out the problem with the teacher directly. Here are more ways to keep the parent-teacher communication as positive as possible.
Get to Know the Teacher by Volunteering
If you get acquainted with the teacher by giving of your time, it will help you get off on the right foot. At the beginning of the year, sign up for volunteer opportunities such as chaperoning field trips or hosting benefits. You will be able to give back to your school and get to know the teacher outside of the classroom. That way, if you do have a concern at some point during the year, you will already have a basis for trust, and the relationship you have with the teacher may facilitate the process of working out your concern in an amiable way.
Prepare for Parent-Teacher Conferences
Before you attend your child's conference, write down any questions you might have about his or her progress. If there are any concerns, be sure to get your child’s take on what’s happening and to explain why he or she might be struggling. If your child is going to be present at the conference, tell him or her that you plan to bring up certain areas and ask for his or her input. When the teacher is explaining her take on your child’s progress, try to remain calm and open-minded, even if you feel it’s difficult. Though it may be tempting to blame the teacher for your child’s difficulties, if any, it usually won’t help the situation. Instead, try to figure out some ways you can work with the teacher to improve the situation. For example, if your child is struggling with math, you might ask the teacher to send home some additional work that you will do with your child. Remember that the best outcome is when teachers, students, and parents work together to educate the child, and teachers usually appreciate parents who will do their part. Here are additional tips about how to make the parent-teacher conference go smoothly.