I have the school number programmed into my contacts so that when the school calls I know it’s them. Since my children are humans and not robots, I will probably get a call from one of their teachers at some stage to chat about some behaviour that needs addressing.
Having worked in both counselling and behavior management in schools, I know that these conversations can go one of two ways: good or bad. So I’ve put together a list of three top tips for surviving and even thriving in ‘that’ conversation with the school:
1. Listen ...
... as in not just hear but really listen.
Try and understand where the teacher is coming from. An excellent mindset is to be as open as you possibly can. It is an automatic and natural parental reaction to defend your child when you perceive that someone is criticising them but sometimes the teacher is absolutely right!
2. Check what needs to be done
Sometimes a call is just a courtesy to keep you in the loop and sometimes the call is informing you of the next steps. Sometimes what happens is of no consequence in the big picture but sometimes what has happened is a major deal.
Whatever the scenario, check courteously with the teacher what they would like you to do from here. Are they asking for a specific action to be completed? Your asking for clarification should always be welcomed.
3. Ask for the teacher's contact details ...
... so that you can respond to the teacher in the future.
Some of us are on the spot thinkers and some of us are not. Not everything has to be decided on in the moment, so if you’d like a chance to hear your child’s side of the story, discuss the situation with your partner or just to think it over, ask the teacher if you can take some time to think about this and get back to them in a timely manner.
Perhaps the most important element in all of this is that, as much as is humanly possible for you, for the sake of your child, please back the school in the upholding of rules rather than give your child an out.
Here’s why: Not all teachers agree with every single school rule. Gasp! But….it is for the benefit of the students that we teach them when to fight and when to accept that a rule must be obeyed. An adult who wants to argue every rule and regulation is at best annoying, at worst ends up in jail.
You want your child to stand up for what’s right? I’m teaching mine to oppose social injustices, to oppose children treating each other with contempt and to oppose lies and mistruth. But when they come home with a consequence because their haircut is wrong or they’re wearing the wrong jewellery? Well those ones are a big fat case of "Life is sometimes unfair, Sweetie. Still gotta follow the rules."
Happy conversation making!