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When you want to find out how your child is doing in school, do you know the most effective way to get in touch with his teacher? Here are 10 tips from teachers on how to get the feedback you need:
1. Write a note. If you have a quick question, put it in writing and ask your child to deliver it. Ask the teacher to send her response with your child at the end of the day. You can also use a note to try to set up a phone meeting. Let the teacher know when and where you can be reached, or ask when and where she can be reached. Alternatively, you can suggest that you speak when you pick up your child from school that day. This is the least intrusive way to talk to the teacher.
2. Make a date. Schools regularly schedule parent-teacher conferences – usually twice a year – but if you have concerns between these meetings, don't wait. Many teachers are working parents themselves, and are sensitive to the demands on your time. Most try to make themselves available either before or after school, or during lunch.
3. Email. Try to save email for relaying important messages, not to ask for daily progress reports.
4. Ask for the teacher's personal phone number or email address. Some teachers will give you this information with the understanding that you contact them only if it's an emergency. Assure the teacher that you'll keep the information private.
5. Help out in class. Volunteer to be a class parent if you have the time. By helping out at parties and performances, you'll be able to observe both the teacher and the children in a more casual setting. This will also allow you to keep track of progress throughout the year.
6. Volunteer for special occasions. If you don't have time to be a class parent, you can still lend a hand on an as-needed basis – at holiday parties or class plays. Let the teacher and the class parents know that you're available to help.
7. Go on a trip. Teachers always need parent volunteers to accompany the class to the planetarium or beach. Everyone's in a good mood on trip day, so you'll get an especially relaxed peek at the way the teacher relates to the class.
8. Do your homework. There are many activities you can volunteer to do from home, such as emailing or calling other parents, collecting materials for projects, or assembling books.
9. Attend school activities. Most schools schedule plays, musicals, talent shows, concerts, and carnivals in the evening or on weekends. Many teachers attend these events and are grateful to see parents there. Your attendance shows that you appreciate their hard work in pulling the performance together.
10. Propose a special program. Perhaps you have a special skill or interest you can share with your child's class, or maybe you want to talk about your career. A presentation like that can take less than an hour out of your working day but will have a huge payoff – your child will be happy and proud to have you come, and by working with the teacher to schedule your visit, you'll get to know each other better.