Tips on Talking to Your Child's High School Teacher

Before meeting with your high schooler's teacher, make a list of everything you want to discuss.
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If you're the parent of a high school student, there may come a time when you need to talk to one of his teachers about his grades or other classroom concerns. Even though communication between parents and teachers can help a child succeed in school, parent-teacher conferences can be anxiety-laden experiences, especially if emotions are running high and you're not sure what to expect. Thankfully, you can ensure that the meeting has a positive outcome and benefits your child’s academic progress.

1 Talk to Your Teen First

High school students – especially juniors and seniors – are at that age where they don’t want to be babied anymore and may be mortified by what parents will say or learn from their teachers. Before scheduling a meeting with the teacher, discuss the situation with your teenager first. Ask him for his feedback about the specific issues he's having, why he's having these issues, and what would help him improve. Jot down his answers, and be sure to include his responses when you meet with the teacher.

2 Approach the Situation Calmly

High school teachers may teach as many as six groups of students a day, with their classes changing every 40 minutes or so. Therefore, during the course of a school day, a high school teacher's unencumbered time may be only 30 or 40 minutes. If you need to contact your child's teacher and the option exists, send an email as the initial contact. You also have the option of leaving a message with the front office. Most likely, the teacher will respond to you as soon as her schedule is free.

3 Come Prepared

Once you've set up a meeting, be sure to write down a list of points you want to discuss with the teacher -- and be sure to include the input you got from your teen. For instance, you may want to discuss your kid’s homework and test grades, in-class work and behavior, or even ask the teacher to review a specific test or recent assignment with you. Having the list will reduce your nervousness and help you remain focused on the goals you set for the meeting.

4 Avoid the Blame Game

If your teacher has requested the meeting because of your child's academic or behavioral performance in class, you may be tempted to react in a defensive manner and blame the teacher. Or, you may want to accuse her of having poor classroom management skills. While it's human nature to want to defend your sor or daughter, listen calmly to your teen's teacher. Consider how you word your statements and avoid assigning blame.

5 Partner Up

Whether your child's issues are academic or behavioral, suggest to his teacher that you want to work together, not against each other. Ask for the teacher's input on the ways you can work together to help your child improve. Together, set specific goals for progress. After all, the majority of teachers teach because they enjoy helping children learn and thrive; therefore, try giving the teacher the benefit of the doubt and suggesting that you work as partners to help your child succeed in school.

As a mother, wife and recovering English teacher, Jennifer Brozak is passionate about all things parenting and education. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and St. Vincent College, Jennifer writes features for the IN Community magazine network and shares her daily escapades on her blog, One Committed Mama.