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Communicating with class teacher - how and how often is normal?

(7 Posts)
newbrunette Tue 02-Oct-12 21:40:08

Hi, I know there's lots of teachers on this board so would be interested to hear from you as well as parents if you don't mind sharing. I'm a bit miffed at ds's new teacher's rather defensive, anti-parent stance. It seems virtually impossible to get to talk to her and the one note I've sent met with a very frosty reply.

I understand that she's busy, that she doesn't want parents interfering etc but I simply asked a couple of questions about things that had been an issue for my son (who is on the school's SEN register). It feels like it should be easier than this to communicate - I'm not trying to criticise her, just want to work with the school to help ds in best possible way.

What I want to know - before I go barging in and upsetting anyone - is what is normal? Are you able to approach your class teacher for an informal chat, is s/he available for appointments before/after school, how much contact do you have/expect to have?

snowball3 Tue 02-Oct-12 22:04:32

It varies. I have two children with communication books, where I write in every day about how their child has behaved/performed and any issues/problems that have arisen. I then have some parents who drop their child off at the school gate and I never see them at all. If anyone needs a quick word ( ie Johhny's grandma will pick him up today or he's lost his fleece, can he check the Lost Property box) then I'm on the playground for 20 mins every day before school starts. If a longer chat is needed, parents can ask in the morning if they can pop in after school, unless I'm off to a meeting or running a club they can see me then. Ocassionally a parent might have to wait a couple of days ( especially if I have several who "want a word") Letters are harder, after seeing parents, running clubs and marking books, there's little time left and replies are usually written at home but if I need to consult the Head/SENCO/ other advisors then there can be a delay!

DeWe Tue 02-Oct-12 22:12:20

At infant level I can catch the teacher in the morning for a quick chat "Ds lost one plimpsole..." or in the evening for a longer chat as long as she has nothing else on.

If it's very important I would ask either her or the office in the morning if it's possible. Occasionally I have been picking up on an afterschool club and seen the teacher in the classroom and knocked on the door for a word without dc present. None of these have ever caused a teacher a problem.

This sounds like I'm in a lot, but it's possibly about once a term, if that.
If things are going well I generally wouldn't see the teacher, although if I meet them out of the classroom (eg in passing) then I might mention something my dc had particularly appreciated.

Is it possible it is how you're saying rather than what you're saying. I'm wondering from when you say "I simply asked a couple of questions..." That's what my df says when he's asked a leading question that you know whatever you answer you'll get mauled by words grin

AbigailS Tue 02-Oct-12 22:25:27

There is no "expected" or "average". It varies hugely depending on the needs of the child and the parent. I agree about getting written responses - we can't send a reply to a parent without the HT checking it (paranoid about MN-ers moaning about teacher's English maybe wink )

I'm only available for quick, informal matters before school. I arrive later than some teachers due to dropping my own children off first. I then have to set up my classroom, attend 3X a week morning staff briefings etc. Also first thing in the morning is too hectic; welcoming and settling the whole class, making sure Little Johny doesn't make a bolt for the door, etc. doesn't make it eay to concentrate on conversations with parents when your eyes and ears are darting everywhere around the room! As your issue is an SEN one I wouldn't want to talk to you about it in the morning as there is no privacy with parents popping in and lots of children listening in.

After school I do take all the class out and stay in the playground for about 10 minutes, so I'm approachable for an informal chat then most days. If parents need an appointment for a more foral or private chat I get my diary to schedule one. I run afterschool art clubs, have staff meetings and other parents booked most weeks, so I can't guarantee an immediate slot.

Maybe a quick call to the office asking for the teacher to phone you to book a time for you to come in for a chat about ... might be more successful? Keep it light and friendly, then the teacher cannot misconstrue it as an attack and feel defensive. Sometimes written communications do feel threatening and if the teacher is feeling insecure it may make them want to avoid the meeting? I certainly delayed a meeting with a parent who wrote an agressively worded letter (not saying your's was OP) until I could arrange for a member of the SLT to be there as well.

LingDiLong Tue 02-Oct-12 22:28:39

Our school is great at this (so far). My eldest is in year 3 and all the way along the teachers have been friendly and approachable - and encourage us to speak to them as soon as we have a concern. Usually all we have to do is just grab them after school once the class has been let out.

I can't see why your DS's teacher is seemingly being so rude, even if she doesn't have time immediately surely she can arrange something with you?

newbrunette Tue 02-Oct-12 22:48:45

Hi thanks for all the replies - really useful to know and makes me feel like I'm not being unreasonable. Just to clarify, the note I sent was just in the home/school communication book (which she doesn't check regularly so we have to put it in a special basket if it has a note in) so it wasn't a formal letter or anything. And it was extremely politely and carefully worded so as not to get her back up... I'd much rather be able to grab her for a quick chat but this just doesn't seem possible.

This teacher just seems to really shut parents out - she made it clear to us all in a meeting at the start of term that she knows her job and we should all just leave her to it. I think she thinks we're all just interfering, over-protective idiots.

The only time I've spoken to her was when she attended a meeting I had with the SENCO at the beginning of term. We talked about her providing some feedback on the issues ds was having and she said she couldn't think of a way to do it (a sentence or two every week would do it but she said she didn't have time to write in the book or talk to me). And she said she didn't want to meet again till after half term.

cansu Wed 03-Oct-12 08:17:01

She does sound rather unapproachable. I am a teacher and also a parent of a child with SN. I don't speak often with the teacher and would probably make an appointment if I wanted to speak properly about something. I prefer this as a teacher rather than lots of little chats. I do however often speak to her TA so maybe that's why I don't need to talk to the teacher. That said as a teacher I would never be rude and would always respond to a note. Could you perhaps try contacting her by phone? If I haven't got time to respond straight away I usually promise a call back to discuss the following day?

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