Should parents voice concerns about teachers?

Even constructive criticism about a teacher is usually not well received at schools. Schools tend to take a “us” versus “them” mentality as in the “school staff” versus “parents”. There is also the concern voiced by students that if the teacher finds out that a parent has been in to complain;  the teacher will somehow take it out on the student in the form of low grades.

On the other hand if a parent does not complain it leads to anxiety, frustration, failure to learn and a lot of second guessing by the student and parent. It seems to be choice between a rock and a hard place!


6 Responses to Should parents voice concerns about teachers?

  1. Lisa Scadron says:

    On February 23rd, The Times of India newspaper published an article regarding this topic:

    Although extreme instances of parents “targeting” teachers are not the norm in India, I wonder how common this problem is in other countries?

  2. Jeannie says:

    The majority of teachers would agree they have students’ best interests in mind.

    So rather than let situations arise to frustration level, a suggestion would be to request periodic discussions of what’s best for the parent’s INDIVIDUAL student. If as a parent you have a concern, address the concern with facts.

    The approach would be to have a face-to-face meeting and that each attendee has the skill set, information, and valid suggestions. Identify an area or topic or learning need for short term improvement. Consider all suggestions on how to support the short term goal. Agree on timing and methods. Plan to review situation in a timely fashion. As a parent, it may be difficult to listen, absorb and agree to proceed immediately. Parent should bring spouse, friend, or educational advocate and ask that one team member take notes so parent may take time to think over the improvement plan and discuss with spouse and/or student. Then act quickly to refine, agree to enact the plan, and monitor for success. Often including the student in the team discussion yields positive results so all can hear directly the student’s perspective of the problem, and progress.

  3. Judy C. says:

    It is a fine line that parents must walk between supporting and advocating for their child and supporting and trusting a teacher. There are always 2 sides to any story and I agree with Doreen’s suggestion to ‘keep to the facts’ when addressing an issue. If a parent feels that an issue should be raised about a teacher, check out the protocal in the country you are living in. In North America, usually the first step is to address the concern directly with the teacher. If this does not resolve the issue then the next step is to discuss the concern with the principal of the school. If there is a need to do more, then, and only then, should a parent contact a supervisor at the board level.

  4. Sara S. says:

    At least in the US system, the parent would approach the teacher first and try to work out the difference. Usually I find it most helpful to couch my “suggestions” in the form of bringing additional, relevant information about my child as a learner and/or speaking in terms of what is in the best interest of my child scholastically. Then, it doesn’t become – “but you did this or that.” The conversation focuses on the student and what would be the best learning environment for her.

    Having said that, I have never found that a teacher changes that much, even after having “the conversation.” Then the question, as a parent, becomes how much does my child have to wade into the waters of reality – learning to manage under the authority of a teacher who might not be ideal – vs. charging in, as the adult, to try to save the day.

    As a younger parent, I erred too much on the side of “letting nature take its course,” and feel, in hindsight, I should have intervened. On the other hand, when I did speak up, in later years, the option to change the situation was not offered. Nevertheless, at least your opinion, as a parent, is made known.

  5. Vicky Singh says:

    My personal experience of International Schools outside the US has been an approach of teamwork. So, if I go in to discuss a particular issue with a teacher regarding my child, it is usually along the lines of…….’what can I do at home to support your teachings here at school’. It immediately takes the defensiveness away from the teacher and promotes a joint effort to tackle any issue at hand. In this climate, a teacher tends to be more receptive to feedback/ suggestions from parents regarding their child. I have found this approach to be very beneficial.

  6. Kristina says:

    It can be a challenge to choose your words carefully and it is so important that your approach NOT come across as an attack…I agree wholeheartedly with Vicky that a team approach is most helpful. The language and words that you choose are so important. If you are really not sure of how you come across, take a few minutes and speak to friend or colleague and asking them to help you choose your words carefully.

    However, IF the parent has unsuccessfully talked with the teacher on at least one occasion and preferably two and the concern is great, then I really think that speaking to someone in an administrative position is an important next step so that concerns are documented and a plan can be developed.

    At all of the stages along the way, it is important to remain calm and not let emotions get the best of you. I think continuing to stress the desire to work together is important and try to eliminate as much as you are able the `us v. them` position.

    If you really feel like the problem is still not being dealt with appropriately, find out what the next level is.

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