How Can I Connect With My Student’s Middle School Teacher(s)?
[Part of the "Q & A for Parents of Middle School Students" series]
You may be somewhat uncertain about what you can or should be doing at home to assist with your child's learning in middle school, and the fact that the child may now have multiple teachers instead of one, complicates the process of connecting with teachers. Parents should connect with the student's teachers early in the year. Attend open house before school starts, and get acquainted. Your student will have more than one teacher at this level, and an early connection makes it easier when you want to contact the teacher later in the year. Students may ask you to skip these parent sessions, announcing that they are old enough to handle things on their own. No matter how much your child protests, ignore them and ensure you attend all school functions – this communicates to teachers that you are available and concerned about your child's education.
Whenever you have questions, don't hesitate to seek out the appropriate teacher. Teachers are available via many different means of communication: telephone, email or personal notes. A call to the school office can provide the teacher's direct line, where you can leave a message in their voice mail or identify a time the teacher can get in touch with you. A school web site can give you a teacher's email address, or you can get this from the teacher at open house. Email is convenient because it is not necessary for the teacher or parent to coordinate schedules to be available at the same time. If there is something you would like to alert the teacher of, send a note to the teacher with your child – but follow up and be sure the note reached the teacher.
Attending parent-teacher conferences is a perfect way for you to touch base with your child's teachers about their achievements in class – even if the student may not want you to go – you should attend. This is a time for parents to bring any concerns or information to the teacher's attention, as well as get an update on what information has been covered during the previous school days. If possible, ask that your child accompany you to the conference. After all, the discussion is about the student's learning, and having them be a part of the conversation can ensure that everyone – teacher, student and parent- are on the same page and have heard the same message. These conference sessions are usually short, so be prepared to set up a meeting, or phone conversation at a later date if you find you have more to discuss.
Bean, R. (1991). How to help your children succeed in school. New York, NY: Price Stern Sloan Publishing.
Faber, A., & Mazlish, E. (1999). How to talk so kids will listen, and listen so kids will talk. New York: Avon.
Ramsey, R. (2000). 501 ways to boost your child's success in school. Lincolnwood, IL: McGraw-Hill.
Debra Eckerman Pitton, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Middle Level Education at Gustaus Adolphus College in St. Peter , MN and consults with school districts across the country on issues of mentoring and middle school education. email@example.com