From whole language in the elementary grades to block scheduling and outcomes-based education, most of today's controversial education initiatives are intended to improve the how of learning. That's not to say that they necessarily work. Though knowledge of the learning process is constantly expanding, proof that particular approaches are more effective than others is elusive. As a group, educators tend to hop onboard with the latest new technique. Ten years later, a different method may be in vogue.
Parents can give teachers an important reality check. Even the most brilliant curriculum won't work if students and parents don't believe in it. But parents should remember that issues can seem deceptively simple from afar. Those who bear in mind the complexity of a class full of kids are more likely to maintain productive relationships with teachers. As a teacher and administrator, I can offer a few tips for building positive relationships between parents and teachers:
Make Your First Interaction Positive
If a parent greets me with a warm hello and kind word on curriculum night, I'm much more likely to be receptive if she comes to me with a problem later.
Don't Get Angry Before Getting the Facts
Even the most trustworthy child sometimes garbles important information. Parents and teachers who know different parts of the same story can often resolve issues with an exchange of information.
Don't Go Over their Heads
As a teacher, nothing makes me madder than learning about a parental complaint about my class from the principal. Talk to the teacher first, then go to the principal if you don't get satisfaction.