Communication and the Chain of Command

This is going to be short and sweet: Follow the Chain of Command. What does this mean when we are not in fatigues? It means that you should always start your communication with the teacher. Actually, you should start by remembering that your darling Pookie might get some of her facts wrong. So, begin with a grain of salt. Then, when you have ascertained that Parent-School communication needs to happen, start with the teacher. Yes, even if the issue is the teacher. You'll have to put your big-girl/boy pants on, practice the conversation in the mirror, breathe away any active anger, and then go for it. Hopefully, your intention will shine through the awkwardness.

Then, if that conversation with the teacher does not result in the desired outcome (and give it some time...) you go to the next step in the Chain of Command: the Grade-level Leader or Department Chair... After that, it's the Counselor, or Building-level Principal (or Head Teacher if you are in that kind of system.) Only on last resort do you communicate with the Director, Head of School, Superintendent, or Board of Directors. Their job is actually to work in the school's fiscal, legal, and personnel domain, much less focused on curriculum or student issues.

There are some hot issues that need to go right to the Counselor or Principal, after alerting the teacher, but not many --incessant bullying, is a prime example. FYI-- most Counselors work on the admin team or in a direct advisory capacity to the Principal so they are likely to loop the Principal in fairly quickly.

As a general rule of thumb -Curriculum issues, class management problems, and grading/assessment issues, should go to a Department Head or Grade-level Leader, after a solid meeting with the teacher. Concerns about learning differences, social-emotional issues, or mental illness, should go to the Counselor after ...say it with me... the T-E-A-C-H-E-R (*unless you are concerned about confidentiality.)

You get the point-- many parents leave the teacher out of the loop, yet they are the person with the most daily contact with students. You will not only waste time going over their head (because most of the other people in the chain will ask if you've already talked with the teacher) but you miss the opportunity to further build your P-T relationship by including the teacher respectfully on Team Pookie... the team of adults committed to actively supporting your child/their student.

Until next time...

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About Me

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I've been working as an educator for more than twenty years. By "official" training, I'm a teacher, school counselor, and developmental psychologist (MAT, LSC, Ph.D.) With four, feisty school-aged children and a husband who is a teacher and Principal, I'm lucky to see many sides of the Parent/Teacher Tango. It can be a complicated dance! This blog intends to support you in being a positive participant in your child's educational experience.