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Ask an Expert: Helping your child's teacher

The back-to-school calendar is in full swing. Educator Amy Turino offers some tips on getting to know, and work with, your child’s teacher at this very busy time of year.

The start to any school year is hectic for everyone – including your child’s teacher.

As you are trying to get to know a new teacher, a new classroom and new grade-level expectations, your teacher is trying to get to know 30 new students and their families. This can be overwhelming.

Here are some tips on how to make it easier for both of you:

1. Honor the times created for meetings and orientations

When events and meetings are created, the teacher has time to prepare to be in the space to answer many people’s questions and orient you to the things that he/she finds important.

Showing up early or late does not make for great use of this time. As easy as it seems to pop in early or keep the teacher after, he or she might not be prepared for your impromptu one on one session.

2. Be present

At the events and meetings, turn off your cell phone; engage in the dialogue and activity of the moment.

The event and meeting might be aimed at answering your exact concerns. Take any handouts and ask questions at the end.

3. Take advantage of sign-ups

Knowing that not everything can be answered at one time, teachers will sometimes have sign-ups available for one-on-one meetings, so sign up!

If sign-ups aren’t available, listen for and collect all the contact information the teacher is willing to provide. Most teachers today will share their e-mail address and/or cell phone number.

Don’t abuse this access but make good use of it. Start with a complimentary introduction that thanks the teacher for the time already given at the event and then ask your questions directly. A teacher would much rather receive and answer a direct inquiry than a long drawn-out conversation during this busy time of year.

Your desire to have a conversation is a step in the right direction. Remember that we are all working toward a common goal: a happy and successful school year for your child.

Creating lines of communication and keeping them open can ensure that things don’t slip through the cracks.

Image above from Big Stock Photo

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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