A recent NY Times online article, “The Dicey Parent-Teacher Duet” provides thoughtful commentary from Sara Mosle, a parent who is also a teacher, about how parents and teachers both approach these relationships with trepidation. While everyone agrees that parent involvement is a critical component of a child’s success in school, overly involved parents risk interfering with their child’s maturation and growth, not to mention irritating a teacher to the point that it affects the teacher’s view of their child. Mosle offers guidelines in this article (found here) for parents and teachers to follow as they develop their relationship. Her suggestions, such as limiting the use of e-mail for routine scheduling matters and focusing on the student’s strengths early and often, will ease the stress both parents and teachers can experience during the school year. Worthwhile reading, as are the comments readers sent in response.
GCP strongly advocates parent engagement with teachers throughout the school year, and the suggested guidelines seem helpful. An additional stressor in the parent teacher relationship not mentioned in the article can be present if parents believe their son is being treated differently or judged unfairly, especially in a school where there are few children of color. In a previous GCP post which addressed this issue called “What To Do When the Road Gets Rocky (And It Will)”, guest posters Anne Williams-Isom and Jennifer Jones-Austin discussed this dilemma. They noted the concern a Black parent had upon hearing that a teacher had an issue with her son: “[W]as it a legitimate fear that her son was being treated unfairly? Or could her perspective be clouded by an unwillingness to face the possibility that an actual issue might need to be addressed? Many parents of color are constantly torn between wanting to trust their school administrators and feeling like trust may leave their sons unprotected.”
Establishing regular communication with teachers early in the school year will help strengthen the parent teacher bond and give parents a better and fuller understanding of the teacher’s perspective (for better or for worse) if troubles arise. (If they do, be sure to read the post mentioned above, which was posted February 28, 2012.) GCP readers, we would love to hear how you have handled or resolved dicey parent teacher relationships, as well as any tips for ensuring that they are good and productive. Any good stories and tips out there?