Q. With all the choices of ways to communicate with teachers - phone calls, email and notes - which ones are the most effective? - Wondering
A. Parents usually get all the pertinent information about what is going to happen in the new school year as well as how to communicate with teachers at the fall back-to-school nights that schools hold. This makes it easy for parents to know the times and ways that individual teachers like to be contacted. Plus, parents also will find out how the teachers are going to communicate with them. Some teachers are very much at home with using the Internet. They may even have daily blogs telling what happened in the class, as well as post homework assignments on the school website.
Communicating with teachers by notes, phone calls and emails is fine for routine questions and minor problems. However, if there is a major issue, a person-to-person meeting needs to be set up. You simply can't address what needs to be done to help struggling students or resolve serious disciplinary issues without a give-and-take conversation.
There are some unwritten rules about communicating with teachers:
·Don't expect teachers to communicate with you in a meaningful way when you run into them at school events or in other spots like the local grocery store.
·Be diplomatic, especially in emails. Avoid making overly critical comments.
·In face-to-face meetings, be positive and curious. Ask: Can we talk about a certain concern?
·When you leave a phone or email message, be specific about what you wish to discuss. And do leave the time that you will be available as well as your name and phone number or email address.
·It really is a smart gesture to express appreciation to teachers when they have been helpful to you and/or your children. It is also a nice touch to mention this to the school's principal.
Q. My daughter was never taught much phonics. Now when she meets a new word, she can't sound it out. She's in fifth grade, and this is becoming quite a problem in her social studies and science classes. Where do we get help for her? - No Phonics
A. When children get to your daughter's age, they really aren't using much phonics beyond the sound of the first syllable. After this, they are decoding words by dividing them into syllables and identifying familiar prefixes and suffixes as well as using the context.
Admittedly, new words in social studies and science can be difficult to decode. You can help your child by working with her on new vocabulary. She will soon begin to pick up some needed word-identification skills. Show her how to divide words into syllables and recognize some of the common prefixes and suffixes used in social studies and science words. Don't expect her to learn all the new vocabulary in one session. Introduce the words over several days, and review them frequently.
If your work with your child is not enough, ask the school to investigate your daughter's reading difficulties and to give her help.
Dear Teacher is written by Marge Eberts and Peggy Gisler. Send questions to: Dear Teacher, 1 N. Illinois St. No. 2004, Indianapolis, IN 46204; go to http://www.dearteacher.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org