This is an excerpt from my book, Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.
Socrates had a good teaching protocol way back in the 300s BC. He encouraged learning through the questioning from his students. He drew answers out of thembecause he believed the answers were already inside of them. Socrates understood the satisfaction he could have regarding teaching was dependent on the satisfaction his students were having. It’s a symbiotic relationship: a relationship where both parties are benefit and neither is damaged.
Your child’s teachers may or may not be in synch with such a relationship. Your child’s teachers may not be anywhere near this understanding, but the fact remains, these are your child’s teachers so, how can you help your child have a positive experience with all of her teachers anyway? Here are some strategies and suggestions to do just that.
Your Student Communicates First
Encourage your child to communicate first with the teachers on his or her own before you, the parent, intervene. This promotes speaking up for oneself, learning how to communicate to a person in authority, and how to maintain positive relations regardless of a favorable outcome or not. Invaluable confidence can develop during such personal contact. The student learns to negotiate an issue, concern, or problem. A teacher may offer an alternative or compromise to the student’s request and this provides fertile soil for developing negotiating skills with others.
Before and during classes are the least effective and the least desired ways to go about communicating with teachers. Teachers are quite preoccupied at these times especially at the beginning of the lesson. It is to a student’s benefit to be wise about the timing and the approach. There are many commonsense, positive ways to do this.
- Upon entering the classroom, a student can ask to speak to the teacher after class.
- Upon entering the room, give the teacher a note regarding speaking to the teacher after class.
- E-mail the teacher to schedule a time to talk.
- Talk to the teacher during lunch.
- Talk to the teacher during the teacher’s planning time with prior approval.
Approaching the teacher is just as important as the conversation itself. This teaches the importance of how to get someone’s attention so that what you have to say is heard well.
For additional strategies to guide your child to communicate well with his or her middle school teachers, read Middle School Years Without Tears: Creating and Managing for Wonderful, Awesome, Successful, and Thrilling Middle School Experiences.