All being well, our conversation will move on to your child's preferences about this subject or that activity and the sorts of things we might work on together to ensure a successful academic year. Except you were told your child was a level 3a writer in her school report in summer and you're now demanding to know why she's not a level 4 yet. Naturally, it's a similar story for reading and maths.
Before I respond, can I just ask if you settled down and were on an even keel in no time whatsoever after every major event in your life? Give everybody some time to settle in — new children and new teachers can be just as daunting for each other at the start of an academic year. It will take time to establish positive relationships, let alone pinpoint progress levels.
Tips For Team Teaching: Two teachers, two classes in one open primary school classroom
It's always tricky to bring up, as it's the child who dictates when this needs to happen. And that could be at any moment, regardless of year group or academic ability. And I empathise, as both a teacher and a parent.
Our children are, of course, the most precious things in our lives and we will naturally fight to protect and provide for them. Independence, and the desire for it, however, comes to us all sooner or later and you would do well to recognise the signs. Or maybe following recipe or model-making instructions to a tee? Try setting a few tasks. Left to his own devices, you'd be surprised how well your year-old can remember to pack his homework or get his own breakfast. Even seemingly basic routine chores will help foster his sense of worth and help him cope with life at senior school.
In the years to come, he'll probably be more grateful than if you were still spoon-feeding everything to him at this age. I'm sure that XBox keeps your nine-year-old nice and quiet at home. But his last piece of writing featured SAS operations against Colombian drug cartels and was slightly disturbing. So too was the report from the four six-year-olds who were worried about being the bait in a make-believe drive-by shooting in the playground. I appreciate I can't control what you let your kid see at home, but until they can tell the difference between CGI and reality, would you mind if I just forwarded the complaints from the parents of those six-year-olds on to you?
How to Call Parents When You're a Teacher
Ticking off a child for low-level disruption occurs at least daily for most teachers; it's part of the job. Irritating as it is, it does actually help to establish or regularly reinforce boundaries and it rarely leads to escalation. That is, until your son goes into what I call "John Terry-mode" following said ticking-off: arguing back, gesticulating, rolling eyes, huffing and puffing, and so on.
That's why he ended up getting the "hairdryer" treatment, and losing his lunchtime.
The media might hold the likes of Terry up as heroes and let them get away with such histrionics every Saturday afternoon, but it's painful to watch eight-year-olds mimicking that sort of behaviour even in the playground. I'm not going to tolerate it in my classroom. Unfortunately, the odd lost playtime at school isn't going to go far in making this problem go away, so if there's any chance of you handing out a few red cards or match bans at home it'd probably enforce the point a lot more clearly.
I will then anticipate having to explain that, in my experience, girls' friendship issues do tend to drag on a bit whereas their male counterparts will just have a straightforward shouting match or worse and then get on with things. But when said mother then goes on to explain that her eight-year-old daughter's misery is due to the fact that she hasn't got a boyfriend, my klaxon goes off.
Kiss-chase is all good fun, but it really is about as serious as playground romances tend to get at this age. Children are under enough pressure at primary school these days as it is, without having to worry about whether they're impressing Johnny SuperDry, or Billy Twelve-Mates. Let your child be a child. Helping with art and craft afternoons, listening to readers, making classroom decorations, putting up displays and being a friendly face on school trips are all an essential part of classroom karma, and the children love it.
However, teachers do talk to each other, and if you've got a track record of snooping through children's writing folders, checking maths corrections or questioning styles of delivery to senior management behind closed doors, I'll be keeping you very much at arm's length. Could your motive be to do some undercover snooping? You're not welcome. When it comes to progress, every teacher wants the best for every child in their class — and not just for the sake of their own performance review meeting. If you complain or criticise the teacher or other children and their families, your child will do the same.
Going straight to the principal can make the problem bigger than it is. Avoid defensiveness When there are problems, people sometimes feel defensive. For example, if either you or the teacher feels criticised, you could both end up feeling defensive. How can we both help him with this?
It can help to use a question. Identify wants, needs and concerns Allow everyone to identify their needs, wants and concerns. Come up with possible solutions Work with the teacher to come up with as many possible solutions to the problem as you can.
The Cornerstone For Teachers
The teacher also has strategies that have worked in the past. This increases the chances of finding the right solution to your problem.
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Evaluate the solutions Once you and the teacher have listed as many ideas as possible, think about the advantages, disadvantages and consequences of each solution. If a solution has more disadvantages or negative consequences than advantages, cross it off your list.
Keep doing this until only useful and possible solutions remain. Choose one and give it a go Pick the best idea, or a combination of ideas, to try out.