Tips for addressing a disagreement with your child's teacher

Every parent experiences a disagreement with their child's teacher at some point. You may not see eye-to-eye with how a teacher interacts with your child, disciplines them or manages the classroom. A teacher may not understand your child's special needs due to an executive functioning issue or disorder.

With a small adjustment in the classroom, your child might excel. Disagreements are bound to happen, but how they are handled can greatly affect the outcome. Consider the following six tips for addressing problems with a teacher. If matters cannot be resolved or if they involve bigger issues, then it may be helpful to have an education law attorney represent your interests at a follow-up meeting with the administration.

Six guidelines for handling a problem with a teacher

1. Don't jump to conclusions.

Approaching a conversation offensively will place the teacher into a defensive mode. For example, you might assume that a teacher disciplined your child based on their gender alone, but your viewpoint might change after getting both sides of the story. Instead of jumping to conclusions, build your argument around the facts that you know.

2. Talk to the teacher first.

It is beneficial to build a healthy relationship with your child's teacher before coming forward with an issue. When a problem does occur, go to them first. Going straight to administrators will strain your relationship with the teacher that can affect your child's experience for the rest of the school year. If the problem isn't resolved after a meeting, then you can always escalate the issue to the top.

3. Do you disagree on teaching style or did they make a mistake?

Their teaching style may not align with your preferences. Although not ideal, your child could benefit from overcoming challenges. On the other hand, a specific incident may have been a tactical error. If this mistake was a deviation from their regular classroom management style, then both parties could benefit from a simple conversation.

4. Ask questions.

Asking questions before making judgments can greatly improve the interaction and outcome of your conversation. You can make informed decisions once you get the full picture from their answers.

5. Give clear and actionable requests.

You will have a higher chance of getting what you want out of the conversation if you can provide easy-to-understand feedback. It is likelier that the teacher or administration will answer your request if it is clear and actionable.

6. Give your child tools to solve problems.

Empowering your child with the self-confidence and language tools to discuss issues on their own will benefit them the most in the future. Some issues, such as discrimination or expulsion, should not be handled by the child. And children with special needs often cannot address problems on their own, however, many situations can be remedied with a productive conversation between the child and teacher. You may choose to coach your child and give them support to talk with an authority figure.

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