At this time of the year, as we approach mid-term report cards, we recommend checking in with your child’s teachers. Those back-to-school night invitations to “email or call with any questions, comments or concerns” should be taken seriously; however, is there a “right or wrong” way to check in with your child’s teachers? Is there a way to improve your chances of getting the response you want?
Just like teachers are told to give as much positive feedback as critique of a student’s work, include equal parts of positivity and for any concerns you’d like to address when you speak with your child’s teacher. If you only use terms that convey confusion, concern, or especially anger, the teacher will be on the defensive. Additionally, it’s hard to convey tone in an email, and it is always recommended to schedule face-to-face meetings whenever possible.
If your child is doing well or receiving scores that are appropriate for the amount of effort that you see him or her putting in, then a brief message of support and kindness to the teacher is all that is needed and will be appreciated. Here is a sample email or letter you could send:
“Good morning Mrs. Hardy,
I hope you’re doing well. I just wanted to check in and let you know that Gabrielle loves your class and is excited about the upcoming quarter. Thank you for the thoughtful response to her latest essay on George Orwell. She took those notes to heart! Please let me know if there is anything we can do to prepare for the upcoming unit on Shakespeare.”
However, if your child is getting low scores, or you have a concern that there are gaps in understanding, or perhaps a miscommunication with a teacher, it is best to address those concerns and schedule a face-to-face meeting right away. Moreover, “concern” here can be rephrased as “proactive goal-setting”. Keep the note brief and ultimately positive as well:
“Good morning Mrs. Hardy,
I hope you’re doing well. I’m writing to let you know that we are aware of Gabrielle’s “C” in your class, and I’m eager to discuss how we can better help prepare her for success. I’m especially concerned about the low test scores, and would like to know if there are any test-prep strategies you recommend. Please let me know if you have 30 minutes to meet with me and Gabrielle in person over the next week. We really appreciate your help.
Either way, teachers appreciate hearing from parents. Your effort to communicate will show that there is buy-in and support at home. Teachers who have large classes of students may not have the time to reach out to every parent to let him or her know what is really going on in class. By extending a hand, you can help your child get ahead of any upcoming hurdles, or simply show that you see the good work his or her teacher is doing.
Director of Education