THE COMPASS

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Communication with Teachers

School can be a stressful time for parents, especially if their child requires additional support and assistance.

Mary Bowers, a multiple exceptional program teacher, has many top-notch tips for helping parents effectively communicate with teachers. Here’s what she had to say:

  • Start early. It is important to set up a meeting with the teacher, principal and special needs aide at the school in June the year before to introduce your child and open up lines of communication about your child’s needs. It gives the teacher an ample amount of preparation time to think about ways of meeting and integrating your child’s needs.
  • Be short and sweet. Teachers receive many notes each day from parents. Since teachers want to focus their time on the students, it is important for parents to keep their notes short and to the point. If you have a very sensitive or confidential matter to discuss, consider setting up an appointment or sending a note in the agenda book for the teacher to call you directly.
  • Be patient, but be persistent. If you do not receive a reply immediately, wait a few days and send a follow-up note. Chances are, the moment the teacher sat down to reply to you something happened in the class that needed his or her attention.
  • Make an appointment. Teachers have a set teaching plan each day and only a limited amount of time in which to implement it. When a teacher is pulled out of class to speak with a parent, it directly impacts student learning – that is, your child’s learning.
  • Make another appointment. If the teacher is truly not listening or responding, then consider setting up an appointment with the principal.
  • Just ask. Communication is especially important at the beginning of the year. Many school boards discourage emails or text messages. Agenda messages, leaving a message with the secretary or appointments are other options.

The creation of an individualized program plan (IPP) for children with special needs is a very important step in the schooling process. Information that teachers collect includes:

  • Previous assessments
  • Report card grades and comments
  • Information gained from observation
  • Selected work sample
  • Information provided by the parent
  • Information by other professionals

As a parent, it is important for you to read the IPP, make changes if necessary and ask questions.

Some useful questions to ask are:

  1. What teaching strategies can the teacher use to help my child fulfill the learning goals?
  2. What support staff are available to help my child reach the goals?
  3. What can I do at home to help my child reach the outlined goals?
  4. What accommodations are in place for my child to help him or her reach the outlined goals?

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