1. Go to the source
The best statement I ever heard a teacher give a group of parents was that she promised to believe half of what she heard if the parents promised to believe half of what they heard. Quite often there is very little truth in a rumor, but too often the story has changed and emotions have become involved. If you have concerns regarding something that your child has discussed with you regarding the teacher or a school incident, make an appointment directly with that teacher. And during the time prior to the meeting, do your very best to refrain from gossiping about the subject or seeking other parent's advice. Too often that will lead to greater confusion and wind up making the situation worse.
2. Follow the chain of command
As a former teacher there has been times that I have been called into the principal's office for a meeting with a parent and I had absolutely no idea why I was there. And during almost every situation, it was a small miscommunication or misunderstanding that took place that could have been very easily cleared up with a phone call, email, or meeting with the parents. Yet, I was not given the opportunity, because the parents skipped speaking to me as the teacher and went directly to the administration. Often times it was because the parents just assumed that was the protocol. Please let me assure you that it is much more effective to speak to the teacher first and then if you're still dissatisfied with the situation, then it is time to approach the administration.
3. Remember that the teachers are human
Boy….I would love to boast that I never made a mistake in my classroom. That is so far from the truth! There were days that I was frazzled, short tempered and then had to be apologetic. Although I loved each and every child for their unique abilities, there would be times that the red tape demands and sometimes those unique abilities would cause me to feel a little overwhelmed. It was during those times that I often made mistakes. I would make it a point to go directly to that student to apologize if I knew I had done something wrong or correct a mistake in my lesson. Often times as parents we forget that teacher's are going to make mistakes. It helps when we attempt to have a forgiving attitude when we see a mistake rather than be critical. It's even worse being a parent AND a former teacher. That red ink pen is always at the ready. But I must slow down and remember what those days were like. They are doing the best they can with limited resources.
4. Help your student to see that it is not always so clear cut
Sometimes our children expect things to be good all the time, especially in the early elementary years. Teach your child early that although the day may have been rotten, there has to have been at least one good thing that happened in class. It could be as small as the teacher put out a new pretty tissue box. That will work. Try to help them to open up to the idea that with the good comes the bad, but more importantly, with the bad also comes some good. Life is a mixture of it all on a daily basis.
5. Lose your helicopter license
Oh, I am so speaking to myself. Again, as a former teacher it is SO hard to turn them lose to another educator and not desire to be right there in the middle of it. Yet, it is so incredibly important to be involved, but stay a safe distance. Give the teacher some room to do her job without the fear of you peaking around the corner judging her.