Questions Every Parent Should Ask Their Child’s Teacher

A Cannon County teacher and 2014-15 Teacher of the Year finalist shares two types of questions every parent should ask.

By Shannon Streett, Middle School Language Arts teachers, Cannon County

Shannon Street teaches English language arts in Cannon County.

Have you ever left a doctor’s office only to later remember all the things you wish you had mentioned or asked? Similar scenarios can occur during Meet the Teacher and Orientation Nights for the new school year. These events can be not only exciting, but also overwhelming at best; the excitement and energy generated from students as they learn homeroom placements, classroom locations, and discover classmates can become a fast-paced, sensory overload that leaves parents with more questions than answers. It may be helpful to approach this time with your child’s teacher with 1-2 focused questions that are pre-planned in order to maximize the value of this initial meeting.

Academic Questions

Last year, I had a great question from a parent: What is the best way for me to track my child’s progress during the three-week grade reporting period? She explained that her child had a history of failing to turn in work, and she wanted to remain proactive in monitoring the situation. We worked out a plan, and I was extremely happy that she was involved while at the same time collaborating with me as a partner.

Questions about grading procedures and assessment methods are also valuable topics to address if the teacher has not already provided that information. Here are a few samples:

  1. In what ways will you measure academic progress?
  2. How can I help my child prepare for assessments in your class?
  3. If my child does not meet expectations, how will you address the issue?

Parent Communication

At the heart of student success is a strong network of teacher and parental support. Working as a partner with your child’s teacher is essential, so be sure to find out the new teacher’s protocol for communicating with parents. Do they send out weekly or monthly newsletters? Is there a specific folder or other communication tool that they utilize? A website or occasional email may be the media a teacher prefers, so it is exceedingly helpful to be informed on this matter as you work to be up-to-date on the events of your student’s education.

A back-to-school affair is for many a highly-anticipated event as it earmarks a new chapter in a student’s educational story. The flurry of activity may not always allow a lot of individual time with a teacher, but with thoughtful planning, opportunity may be provided to establish a great connection with this initial contact. And if you are unable to get your specific questions to the teacher, don’t hesitate to ask for an email correspondence, phone call, or additional parent meeting to engage in that conversation.

Happy new school year!