Dear Teacher,

Tomorrow night is Parent-Teacher conferences. I don’t know how you view the evening (are you dreading it like I am?) but let me share my perspective. (I’m only doing this out of concern; I’m sure you understand.)

I’d like to begin my stipulating how much I admire and respect you. I can’t overstate the fact that I would never want your job and that I can’t even imagine being successful at it. I know you work hard. I know you try hard and I know that some of those kids (including my own) may give you a run for your money. I’m not indifferent to your challenges and I’m grateful to you and appreciative of your efforts.

But please don’t leave your parenting hat at the door when you put on your teacher one. Please treat me the way you’d like to be treated under the same circumstances (don’t make me squish into those teeny tiny chairs!) and please speak of my child the way you’d like your child’s teacher to speak.

Just in case you’re unsure of what I mean, I am going to clarify (being considerate of your needs yet again).

I think it would be helpful and productive to stop and take a moment to think before you speak (I know it’s hard; you’re dying to get home, put up your feet, maybe pour yourself a hot drink and forget all about school). While this child may be one of many in a classroom, to me they are an individual precious soul, entrusted to me to love and nurture. His (or her) welfare is my primary concern and I devote most of my emotional and physical resources to this end. My love for this child knows no bounds.

While I may not be naïve and may see clearly my child’s flaws and weaknesses, I am focused on their strengths and their potential. I believe in them and love who they are.

You may have something unpleasant to tell me but if you don’t begin with the positive, I probably won’t listen.

You really need to remember this. In fact, in order to be a successful teacher, I hope you are seeing his good as well. I hope you are appreciating his (or her!) potential.

Please start with a description of that. You may have something unpleasant to tell me but if you don’t begin with the positive, I probably won’t listen. I won’t be able to hear you. I won’t take you seriously. Your comments may still be accurate but I will have tuned out.

If there is an ongoing problem, I hope you haven’t waited until tonight. It frustrates me to discover that you’ve allowed a negative situation to fester because you couldn’t be bothered to pick up the phone. I am invested in my child’s academic success and good behavior. Let me know early if there’s an issue that needs addressing.

Please recognize that this is a mutual responsibility. I will do what I can from my end but you have a responsibility to control the class and be sensitive to the students’ needs. If my child is doing well in every class except yours (I am remembering an unpleasant experience from past years), my only (and most logical) conclusion is that you are not adequately fulfilling your end of the bargain. My job will still be to ensure that he behaves appropriately no matter the classroom situation, but you also need to work on approving your own abilities (are we allowed to publicly acknowledge that not all teachers are equally talented?).

I won’t blame you for all the problems, but I won’t absolve you either.

In summary, we are in this together. I certainly don’t want to shirk my parental responsibilities and place everything on the school. And the reverse is also true. If you take the time to appreciate and understand my child, my gratitude will know no bounds and I will excited to work with you in helping her achieve her potential.

But if you are only harsh and critical – well, I won’t respond in kind but I will probably think you should have chosen another profession.

Sincerely,

A Concerned and Involved Parent