Being an effective communicator is an art, and it affects our ability to get our message across to others. An effective communicator can effectively navigate their way through difficult encounters. They are talented in nurturing the love and respect of those that are close. As an effective communicator, you can express your hesitation and uneasiness within a relationship. You can help the other person understand your point of view without defensiveness or undue discomfort.
So it makes sense that an effective communicator can also navigate an inherently difficult relationship such as the parent-teacher one. This is not to say that a parent-teacher relationship has to be difficult. And generally, it is not. When the relationship between your child and his/her teacher is good, then the parent-teacher relationship can be a wonderful experience. Generally, it will be easy to work with the teacher and he/she will willingly accommodate your needs.
When the Relationship is Strained
However, there are times when the relationship is more strained, and it can be much more difficult to work together. Here is where effective communication can make the difference between a great year or a miserable one for your child.
An Effective Communicator Tries to Understand the Other Person’s Point of View
When we want to communicate with another, it is wise to try and understand the other person’s point of view. If you were in their situation, how would you be feeling and how would you react? This goes for a spouse, a friend or a colleague as well. It can go a long way in helping to facilitate communication with others.
Teachers today have many challenges. Today, classrooms include many levels of proficiency, students with learning disabilities, various levels of English proficiency, and different cultures. Teachers must complete curriculum, make sure that everyone is learning, fill out mounds of paperwork and teach different modalities. It is an awesome and difficult task.
In addition to this, a teacher often teaches many different classes and possibly up to 100 students every day. The responsibilities are mind-boggling and it is amazing that teachers are able to manage as well as they do.
So when you are unhappy with the way a teacher is handling your child or how s/he is doing in school, keep in mind the many challenges that the teacher is facing on a daily basis.
Do Not Attack
There are a few important things to keep in mind. Firstly if you have a concern or an issue, do not attack the teacher. You are much less likely to gain the cooperation of the teacher if you approach him/her in a negative way. If you feel that the teacher is not understanding your child or not giving him/her the space that s/he needs, schedule a time to talk to the teacher. Explain what you or your child is experiencing in a congenial and non-threatening manner. Perhaps the teacher is lacking background information about your child or s/he needs to hear things from a different perspective. To make sure that you are communicating your ideas effectively, Download a free cheat sheet on how to be an effective communicator here:
Show your child’s teacher how it might be difficult for your child because of his/her particular situation. Listen to what the teacher says and try to understand their point of view. The teacher may have a perspective that you are not aware of and sometimes our children might not be reporting an accurate perspective. Tell the teacher what you have seen work with your child. Be willing to see where your child might need to improve or what things that you can do to help the situation. There are always two sides to a story.
Partner to Find the Solution
When you have listened to the teacher and you feel that the teacher has understood the issues, tell the teacher what you will do. This is so important. If the teacher feels that you are partnering with him/her to improve the situation, s/he will be much more likely to act on your child’s behalf. This is effective communication at it’s best and the way to be an effective communicator. You are not placing blame but working together with the teacher to come up with an effective solution.
Once you have made clear what you will do, ask the teacher to implement two or three things that you have discussed to help your child. Perhaps s/he can move your child closer to the front of the room, make a symbol that only your child will recognize if he needs to get started working or allow him/her a couple of extra breaks during the day. If you ask the teacher to do more than two or three things it may be overwhelming for the teacher. It is better to start small because it is often just the teacher’s awareness that there is a problem that will bring unexpected solutions.
Once you have decided on a plan, give the teacher time to implement the solutions. Check back with the teacher in about two or three weeks to see how things are going. If you see improvement. let the teacher know and thank him or her for their efforts. If you see some improvement, but not enough, let the teacher know whats working and brainstorm together to find more solutions. Make sure that you have been fulfilling your end of the bargain.
Iron Out the Kinks
Schedule a time together to see when you will check back again to see how things are going. Mark your calendar to make sure that you are in touch with the teacher on a regular basis. If you have not stayed in touch with the teacher, do not be upset that things have not improved. You have an equal responsibility to stay in touch and to work out kinks in the plan.
By working together, even if things are not working out to your satisfaction, you can discuss alternative methods to implement to help your child. If you are being an effective communicator, without blaming or anger, you will make sure that the teacher is willing to partner with you. Remember that teachers have chosen their profession because they love working with children, and most likely they will work with you if they do not feel threatened.
It is possible if things do not improve, that you will also have to work harder to enlist your child in the mix. Perhaps there are ways that you can monitor your child’s progress or check in with your child daily. Sometimes a situation for whatever reason may be difficult to change because of a large class, the unique personalities in that class etc. This is a learning experience for you and your child. Work with the teacher, hold your part of the bargain and do the best that you can. Your child will feel your support even if a difficult situation persists. You can read more about helping your child cope with disappointment here.
As an effective communicator, you can change situations for the good. You will become a partner with your child’s teacher rather than an adversary. In most cases, the situation will improve and you and your child will reap the benefits. Becoming an effective communicator will spill into all areas of your life and you will benefit from improved relationships. Wishing you well on your journey!
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