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Often the focus is on the relationship between teachers and parents, which makes sense largely because the parents seek to manage their relationship with the teachers.

My question is: as a parent, what approaches or best practices work for getting students to manage their relationship with their teachers? Clearly the teachers' job is to manage students, and telling them how to do their job would be foolish.

I am asking this question in part because the selected answer for this question on How can we make the most of Parent-Teacher consultations? basically says "don't expect anything meaningful from parent-teacher conference day" and to find alternative methods of communicating with the teacher. I guess I see this as an alternative method.

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Lacking substantial enough input for an answer, a comment: Try to teach your children to be respectful of their teachers. As a tutor, the common thread among kids who did poorly is a negative view of their teacher leading to poor communication. –  William Grobman Oct 6 '11 at 13:46
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I've changed the question to ask for answers to be grouped by age group, rather than US grade level, as US grade level is too localized, and answers addressing specific age groups will be more useful to those who are not familiar with the US grade level system. –  Beofett Oct 6 '11 at 14:00
    
+1 @William Grobman: Interesting point. Guess though my interest is more in how students might seek and manage a dialog than better position themselves for a dialog, that said... I agree with your point in large part because a lack of respect most likely will lead conflicts between the student and teacher. Thanks for commenting! –  blunders Oct 6 '11 at 14:03
    
+1 @Beofett: That's fine. –  blunders Oct 6 '11 at 14:05
    
Your question is conflicting. Are you asking about student-teacher relationships or parent-teacher relationships? You seem to be asking both... –  Christine Gordon Nov 23 '12 at 4:04

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Communication.

Plan and simple, teach your kids to communicate with their teachers about issues and questions they have, rather than wait and let things escalate. If they can't raise questions or concerns about school work then they might fail for simple reasons, or they might fail for doing the wrong thing. Other than that, they can manage to have a relationship with their teacher if they need it for clubs, extra projects or whatever simply by communicating. Don't be afraid to talk to a teacher, they are people too. I don't really see much more than that.

Edit:

If the focus needs to turn on your child and their relationship with their teacher the answer I would give is the same, communication. Ask your child how things are going, if they are talking to the teacher and how they are getting along. A direct approach with kids is best, but if you need to, back it up with an email client that you can monitor incoming and outgoing mail - again be upfront that you want to see their communication. Kids can often rebel, at some age, when parents beging "getting in their grill" and try to find out too much of what they do. Keep it open that you want to know how the teacher and they are getting along so you can be sure they keep honest with you. Talk to the teacher as well, see how things are, I've found the Parent-Teacher thing to be fine, but you have to ask the questions you want answered and keep an eye on homework. It's a fine line between managing the communication and becoming an impediment, best thing is to act like a bystander and facilitate.

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+1 Agree, though the core of the question is more about how a parent is able to manage student-teacher relationships, not facilitate. For example, if the teacher allowed and actively responded to emails, that would be a method that would allow the student to act on their own. I've never heard of parents doing this or what the best style/form for the student to use in the email would be. If you're able to address that aspect of the question in your answer, I'd be happy to accept it as the answer. Again, thank you! –  blunders Oct 7 '11 at 14:10
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Thanks, but I read your question differently - "getting students to manage their relationships with teachers" to me is giving the students the responsibility for this. I email with my sons teachers when the need arises, and I bet if the kids were older (he is in 1st grade) there might be an option there to so. Still I wouldn't want to manage, then you intercede, I'd rather facilitate and get the student/child empowered to handle the relationship. –  MichaelF Oct 7 '11 at 15:32
    
+1 Empowerment does not happen in one day, surely if your teacher takes emails form you, they'd take emails that were "authored" by your child. That said, I agree that the question title and the question in the body of the question are different. If you'd like to leave your question as is, that's fine and I'll understand, though my intent had been more as a means for a parent to allow the child the freedom to learn, while having a means to monitor how the relationship is going. –  blunders Oct 7 '11 at 15:43
    
It appears your answer is (1) verbal check-ins with the student an teacher independently (2) teaching the child good communication. Also, appears that you believe directly managing the relationship won't empower or add value to the child actively managing their relationship with the teacher. That's not the answer I'm looking for, though understand your point of view. Thank you for taking the time to update your question to address my request, and still possible that I make take your answer as the answer, though I'm going to wait a day or more before making a final selection. –  blunders Oct 7 '11 at 23:49

I am not sure this is so much an answer as insight. I am a teacher and a librarian. I have taught every level in every socioeconomic category. I have found time and again that the child's interaction absolutely reflects the parent's interaction with teachers. This is actually a major topic of discussion among the teaching profession. In the past 11 years I have seen a deterioration of support for teachers. Parents, politicians, newscasters, and others are putting forth a negative perception of a group of people who entered a profession with the intent to help students reach their highest potential. This has naturally led to a deterioration of the manner students address their teachers. I fondly remember my first group of students - at risk teens - because they were respectful. (mostly)

My best advise in brokering a positive relationship between your child and their teacher is to be positive and respectful of the profession and the individual. If you manage the message you present to your child, you will be managing the relationship they create.

I am a bit confused why you feel this relationship needs to be managed - if it is due to some problem that already exists, I would strongly suggest a parent, teacher, student conference where you encourage your child to do the talking. If you think the teacher would be hesitant, lay the ground work with the teacher ahead of time. I have always prefered this type of conference because the parent, teacher and student should be a team all working to the same goal so all parties should take part in the conversation.

**Note that I am an American teacher, and perhaps other countries have different issues.

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+1 Point is that students, not parents, should manage their relationship with their teachers, but parents being able to be aware of and empower students to manage their teachers is important. Growing up, I personally taught myself how to manage my teachers, and that skill was often more important than knowing what was being taught; or at least that's my opinion. –  blunders Oct 12 '11 at 23:56

As others have already said, the relationship your child and teacher have, is a direct reflection of your attitude and relationship with your child's teacher. Stay in communication with the teacher and child and just make sure you are up to speed with what is happening in your child's education

IF you are asking this because your child is having a problem, the answer is highly dependent on the type of problem AND the child's age and more information is really necessary. In this case, I can offer up one generic suggestion which will help your children in general in life anyway. As your kids get a little older, say 9 or 10? but especially by the time they are teens - Teach your kids how to productively advocate for themselves. This doesn't mean you shouldn't step in and help, but many challenges for kids arise because they think they are helpless to do anything for themselves.

For example, I once had a student that was Really upset when she went home with a 98% on a test. She hadn't expressed to me how upset she felt about it. Apparently, it was her first time EVER answering a question wrong on any test, and she really wanted me to change the score. Her parents actually called and set up an appointment with me (through the receptionist) and did not say what the appointment was about - of course I was completely baffled. The parents did not know me well either or they may have handled this one differently as well.

When they arrived and said she was upset and wondering if she could retake the test of course I didn't just offer to change the score and Test retakes weren't allowed, but I was sorry they had wasted so much of our time with such a formal meeting. Had the girl just come to me straight away, I would have done exactly what I did do which was to look over her grade sheet with her and show her how all her scores averaged out and extrapolated out what this ONE question meant for her overall grade mathematically. When she realized it wasn't that big a deal she was fine. She also learned that I was happy to help her work in extra credit projects and other types of options if she Should Start to Struggle. All she needed do was ask.

This was the most extreme example of times when a child did not feel empowered just to come to me herself. Usually by the end of the school year, and certainly two years later by eighth grade (approx. 12 years) they were over this, it was usually the ones coming straight from primary that mostly struggled. This situation was with a young girl that had transferred in mid-year and was in the midst of adjusting to the new school, but you can avoid similar situations and stressors for your child in the first place by teaching them two skills at home.

"I messages" - because it helps keep the other person desirous of helping, and compromise.

Help them use "I messages" where they can approach any teacher, parent or even administrator and say, "I need" or "I want" and then negotiate for a win-win resolution. If you practice this skill with them at home in regard to general household management, they will learn how to do it and be able to apply it to the school environment when the time comes.

Of course they will also need help knowing when it is an issue they can handle on their own and when they will need your help, but if you are staying apprised of your child's progress and communicating with both your child and his/her teachers you will be in a position to help if your help is needed.

If you ARE having a problem, set up a meeting. Teachers are there to help.

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