by Meg Flanagan, Author of Talk to the Teacher
Grace. Such a small word with such a big meaning. We say grace to bless a meal or a moment. We can move with grace or elegance, spreading goodwill and effortless kindness to those around us. We share grace with ourselves and others to help overcome tough times and stumbles.
Forgiving others for their trespasses and mistakes can be accomplished in so many areas of our lives. One area where it can be hard to share grace and act gracefully is often with our child’s teachers.
It’s understandable: this professional literally holds your child’s life and educational future in his or her hands. A mistake here could, potentially, cause unforeseeable harm down the road. And your child is more precious to you than life itself.
Showing grace, understanding, and forgiveness to your child’s teachers is one of the most important actions you can take to help your child succeed now and in the future.
Teachers Are Humans, First and Foremost
Show me a person with a blameless life. It is next to impossible. Every one of us has made a mistake, either major or minor, in our lives. I make mistakes daily as a professional, parent, and person. It is how we grow and progress.
Teachers are allowed to make mistakes. After all, they are still humans, still growing and learning throughout life. Yes, major mistakes can cause harm or hurt. If there has been a minor hiccup, it is more important to find ways to overcome the moment and work together going forward.
Take a Deep Breath
Before you react to a school situation, take a breath, take a beat, take a step back. Think about the situation as objectively as possible.
Consider everything you know about what is going on at school. What is at the root of this situation? Think about: grades, behavior, education plans, family circumstances, other influences, and personal actions by different individuals.
Write down everything you know and everything you have questions about. Keep that list with you as you proceed. You will need to reference and update it as the situation evolves. Having something concrete and logical to hold onto will help you if the situation becomes emotional. You will also have a record of everything that has happened so far.
Maintain Your Composure and Professionalism
It can be tempting to dash off a quick and snarky email to the teacher over little things. From the homework assignment that confused your entire family to the trouble on the playground, pushing send on a nastygram feels good. You got everything you wanted to say out there and then you delivered it, hard!
This is a surefire way to push the teacher away from you. What person wants to go above and beyond for another when they have been met with anger and derision?
Instead, write your angry email out on paper. Get all of your emotions out. Then tear it up and write a professional and logical note instead. Remaining calm and respectful in tough situations will offer the opportunity to solve problems with the teacher and school. Giving the teacher grace to answer your questions and explain what is happening can open new doors and provide growth for everyone involved.
You Are on the Same Team
At the end of the day, you are on the same team as the teacher and school. It doesn’t make sense to alienate the one person who can help you most! You all are on Team Child, with the goal of helping your precious one meet his or her greatest potential.
Use every opportunity you get to build a strong team with your child’s teachers and school. Arrive at meetings prepared to engage and work together to problem solve. Show that you can work with them, meeting them at least halfway when possible.
When you approach your child’s teacher with grace in your heart, you are more likely to find a willing ally. The teacher will sense that you are offering support and help. She will be happy to go above and beyond, to offer extra resources or opportunities.
How do your interactions with your child’s teachers reflect grace? Share your best stories and tips in the comments.
Find your way to a graceful and powerful teacher relationship with Talk to the Teacher, the new guide for parents by Meg Flanagan, founder of MilKids Ed. You’ll learn exactly how to speak to teachers on the phone and in meetings with done-for-you scripts. Your emails will hit exactly the right notes using concise templates, ready for personalization.
Talk to the Teacher draws on over a decade of education and professional teaching experience, as well as Meg’s years as a military spouse traveling the country and world. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.