School has barely started. How are things going so far? Do you have a good connection with your child’s teacher?
Did you know that they really want to connect with you? I know this, because I talk to groups of teachers often about my experience raising a child with autism, and the question teachers ask most frequently is this:
I could do a better job if I could communicate more with parents. How can I get them to talk to me?
I flash back to the year that I was that parent, and how Matthew’s teacher found a way to connect with me:
Matthew was a 7th grader at the middle school around the corner, and he was going through a particularly impulsive and aggressive stage, likely fueled by the onslaught of adolescence. While I tried my best to contain him, I had other troubles at the time that distracted me. My mother was sick (really sick) and so was my husband (cancer-he’s been in remission for over 10 years, thankfully). My two younger sons were spending a lot of time with their friends, and I missed them a lot. I picked up Matthew each day from school, averting the gaze of his new teacher, Holly.
If things weren’t going well at school, I just didn’t want to know about it.
One day Holly waved at me as she drove by my house on the way home from school. I waved back, and then panicked when I saw her car stop–and then back up.
“I just wanted to tell you something really quickly,” she said, “I know you are busy, but I want you to know that I really enjoy having Matthew as a student.”
She went on to tell me how much she admired me, and that I had done such a great job with my boys.
“I just wanted you to know that,” she said as she drove away, “let me know if I can help you with all that’s going on.”
I felt relieved and grateful and supported, and I was inspired to partner with Holly in order to make Matthew’s year a more productive one.
It turned out to be one of Matthew’s best years ever, despite the angst of the home front.
So parents, I urge you to be less mysterious and more interactive with your child’s team (teachers, therapists, etc.)
And teachers, I know it can be difficult to communicate with parents. Praise is a magical ice-breaker.
Parents and teachers–how have you bridged the communication gap?