by Cortney Durista Lockhart
1. What can I as a parent do to best support you and my child?
Some teachers love having parent volunteers every single day, while others may need your support outside the classroom. Asking what you can do to best support the teacher will let him or her know that you respect his or her role as a professional and establish right away that you are willing to help in whatever way you can. If you’re worried that asking this question means that you’ll have to volunteer every day in your child’s classroom, don’t – donating extra school supplies, translating parent newsletters, or reading with your child every night or morning (to name a few things) are all wonderful ways to support your child and his or her teacher.
2. How often do you update/communicate grades?
Many schools have very clear expectations around updating grades, but some do not. Asking how often the teacher will be communicating about grades holds both you and the teacher accountable for staying on top of grading. You could also ask about grading scales and late work and extra credit policies during this conversation.
3. What is your classroom management system like?
This might be a system that is consistent school wide or it might change depending on the classroom, but make sure that you and your child fully understand the expectations and consequences for behavior. A good classroom management will have clear expectations and consequences that are student friendly and reasonable – if a teacher is assigning 300 lines for missing a homework assignment, engage him or her in a conversation about why he or she thinks that this is an appropriate consequence. There might not be a perfect ending to this conversation, but being open about behavior expectations in the classroom early on could help prevent issues later in the year.
4. Are parents welcome in your classroom as volunteers? As visitors?
We all want to help with our children’s learning, but if you haven’t cracked open an Algebra textbook in twenty years, you might not want to offer your services as a math tutor for your student’s teacher. Instead, ask if the teacher could use help organizing papers or providing resources like pencils, paper, or even snacks for students. Also ask if you can stop by just to see how your child is doing from time to time (and be sure to double check on your school’s visitor policies and procedures).
Cortney Duritsa Lockhart has always been passionate about equitable education and is currently a 7th grade math and civics teacher at West Generation Academy. She has lived all over Colorado and now lives in Denver with her husband and cat.