A UNITED FRONT BETWEEN PARENTS AND TEACHERS
Most teachers became teachers because they want to teach children. They usually care about them and wish to make a positive difference for them.
Parent-teacher conflicts emerge mainly because of differing philosophies about how children should be taught. Some parents believe their philosophies are better than those held by their children's teachers. The parents may be right—the teachers may also be right. The real problem occurs when teachers and parents disagree on how children should be taught, because a mismatch of philosophies can destroy the united parent-teacher front.
If educational philosophies between teachers and parents differ in directions that encourage children to do more than the teacher expects, it probably won't cause any problems for the children. They'll continue to receive a message of responsibility. However, if the philosophy of the parents differs from that of the teacher so that it provides an easy way out for children, or if it describes the teacher's philosophy as inappropriate, irrelevant, or boring, it provides an excuse for children not to accomplish what the teacher expects.
THE PARENT-TEACHER UNITED FRONT
Parents should not be sharing their positions about teachers with their children if there is the risk of permitting them to subtly escape from school responsibility.
Consider that your children are sitting in the classroom and are faced with tasks or assignments: some that are interesting, some not-so-interesting, some tiresome, and some repetitive. If they've received the message from you that these aren't worthwhile projects, why would your children consider it important to fulfill the teacher's expectations? They know they can come home and find an empathic ear in their mother or father who basically agrees that the assignment was inappropriate to their interest or intelligence, their use of time, or for some other reason. They will be quick to call it boring.
If you want your children to achieve in school, give clear messages to your children about respect for teachers. Let them know that teachers are people who are devoted to children and to making a difference for our society through education. If you show them you respect educators, it will go a long way toward encouraging them to feel positive about their teachers and about school. It will make a great difference in their entire attitude about school learning and achievement. This is no small issue because there have been many parents who have done just the opposite.
Children should hear how much you value their teachers. If you show them you respect educators, it will go a long way toward encouraging them to feel positive about their teachers and about school. If you suggest to children that teachers are "not too bright" or "only got into teaching because they're not capable of doing anything else" or "don't deserve the salaries taxpayers pay them," those comments might as well be messages to children not to perform well in school. If they aren't expected to respect their teachers, they won't.
If your children complain to you about a teacher and you don't respond at all, they will assume that you agree with them and accept your "no comment" as confirmation of their conclusions. You should say something positive about their teachers or reframe what they have said to let them know that you expect them to respect the teacher and work hard in the classroom.
THE TEACHER-PARENT UNITED FRONT
It's equally important that teachers give a message of support for parents. If teachers aren't supportive of parents and aren't saying positive things to children about them, they may render parents powerless to follow through on teachers' suggestions or recommendations at home. Teachers should be especially careful not to talk to other teachers negatively about parents. That may easily happen when parents volunteer in schools. If children hear about the opposition between teachers and their parents, it may have an adverse effect on the parent-child-school relationship. A message of respect for parents, given by teachers, and for teachers given by parents, facilitates children's learning and achievement in school and at home.
*Adapted from: How to Parent So Children Will Learn by Syliva Rimm,( Great Potential Press, © 2008)
©2011 by Sylvia B. Rimm. All rights reserved. This publication, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the author.