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Discipline By Design Series – Part 11 of 12 – Building Parent-Teacher Relationships Where Everybody Wins

In parts 1-5 we discussed how to use the design and unique personality of each child to best reach him or her. Parts 6-10 discussed discipline issues that must be addressed at each different stage of development.

Our final two parts discuss where the two worlds of the parent and the teacher come together: parent-teacher relationships and each part’s role in helping create a successful school climate.

UNITED FOR A CAUSE

Parents and teachers share a unique partnership in that they both love and want the best for the same children. When this partnership is clicking and gelling, it makes life so much easier and better for everyone, especially the children.

When the relationship doesn’t work, though, it adds chaos and confusion for everyone — again, especially the children.

At one time, our society accepted that the primary responsibility for raising children belonged to the parents. Today, however, many families are hurried, harried, and just hanging on.

Thus, they have delegated part of the parental responsibility to the government, school, or caregivers. Teachers play an increasingly important role, then, in the lives of the children they see everyday.

The goal is for the teacher to work in harmony with the parent, supporting similarly held rules and desired outcomes for the child.

Sometimes the best that can be accomplished is for the teacher to provide the encouragement and boundaries the child might not be getting at home. A good teacher can help a student learn about the importance of having time away from television, phones, and video games.

Even better is when a teacher can encourage families to spend time together reading books, playing games, or just talking. It’s beautiful to see a teacher who can provide opportunities for parents to get involved at school in the classroom.

Not only does it add more helping hands in the classroom, but it gives that parent extra time with their child, as well as an opportunity to learn some tricks of the trade the teacher executes successfully that can be used at home. Plus, when parents can see all the effort and hard work that goes into creating and maintaining a successful classroom climate for learning, they tend to complain less and help more.

If you are a teacher, you cannot underestimate the importance of learning the names of your parents and getting to know them personally. Form relationships with them, send notes home about what’s going on in class, be approachable, listen first, and make sure you don’t fall into the habit of only speaking to parents when you have bad news to deliver!

If you are a parent, before you complain, help out in the classroom a couple of times. Don’t fall into trusting gossip or your child’s view without also seeing it with your own eyes. The job of a teacher is very difficult, so make sure you aren’t a thorn in their side but a source of support and encouragement.

Of course, sometimes a problem will arise. For both sides, it is first important to make sure you never act on raw emotion and always take time to process a situation. When you do meet, to help keep things calm, use the tried-but-true “sandwich method” of beginning with positive statements before addressing the issue. When you state your point-of-view, be sure to make it an “I message,” such as, “I’m having a little problem with _______, and I wonder if you could help me?”

Remember, you both want what’s best for the child. Enter these dialogues as partners, not enemies.

PARENT-TEACHER TEMPERAMENTS

Parents and teachers have personalities and temperaments, just as students do. So in your efforts to build bridges with the other, parents and teachers ought to consider the make-up of their partner in this all-too-important relationship.

These characteristics, based on the DISC model, offer insights into how we can relate to each other, receive what the other is saying, and reinforce each other’s strengths.

When you are communicating with a parent or teacher, try to identify the other’s temperament. Then use these approaches for a more successful meeting.

The High D – Dominant, Demanding Temperament

  • Be firm and direct, focusing on the child’s actions
  • Be brief and to the point; use logic to develop a plan to help the student
  • Repeat the plan and give bottom-line goals, objectives, and a timetable

The High I – Influencing, Inspiring Temperament

  • Be friendly and positive, and allow time for interaction
  • First, listen as they discuss their feelings. Then direct them to a plan of action for the child.
  • Offer encouragement and incentive for solving the problem

The High S – Steady, Status Quo Temperament

  • Be non-threatning
  • Use personal acceptance and assurance, and gently discuss ways to solve the issue
  • Be patient. Allow time for them to process the information and take ownership of the idea

The High C – Conscientious, Cautious Temperament

  • Prepare for initial responses to be cautious or negative
  • Discuss the situation in a logical, persistent manner
  • Provide a step-by-step approach for reaching the goal. Present this approach as “steps of support”

There is nothing more wonderful for a school than parents who support the teachers and teachers who partner with the parents in order to give the children the encouragement, guidance, challenges, and love they need in order to succeed.

But it takes both parties willing to work together in harmony for this to happen.

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jodycapehart@churchleaders.com'
Jody Capehart has more than 40 years' experience as a children's minister. She's the co-author of The Discipline Guide for Children's Ministry and the author of numerous other books. She currently teaches Sunday School at Stonebriar Community Church.