1. Always say “thank you”
Teachers, special educators, and administrators work hard and don’t hear this enough. Find opportunities to start and end your conversations with statements of appreciation like, “Thank you for meeting with me,” “Thank you for taking the time,” and, “Thank you for your support.” People remember how you made them feel. Even if conversations are difficult, expressing your gratitude goes a long way.
2. Be a part of your school community
This helps establish relationships and shows your dedication to your child and his education. Some ideas for doing this include:
- Greeting front office staff, even if you don’t need anything
- Volunteering for class trips and events, as your schedule permits
- Ask the teacher if he or she needs something for the classroom. Many teachers have to purchase their own supplies and may appreciate you sharing the burden
- Attend school fairs, carnivals and other events
3. Ask “sandwich” questions
What is a sandwich? It’s basically two pieces of bread with meat in the middle, right? Imagine that the pieces of bread are positive statements, and the meat is the substance of your concerns. Make sure that your concern (the meat) includes a question with it. That helps start a conversation. Here’s an example:
- “Thank you for everything you do for my son.”—first piece of bread
- “I’ve noticed that Jose is having a hard time reading. What are you doing in the classroom that works? How can I support you in this at home?”—meat in the middle
- “And thank you for talking through this with me.”—second piece of bread
In this way, you are not just stating a concern, but you are using a team approach. Always use positives that are genuine.