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10 Ways to Get Your Kid's Teacher to Like You

Photograph by Photofest

We're well into school season, and Parent/Teacher conferences have started. (Already?) I recently had my very first conference ever—and yes, I was a nervous wreck. What to wear? How to act? Are these earrings too obnoxious? Did I follow though on my 10 things to teach kids before Kindergarten rant?

I was trippin'. I wanted my child's teacher to like me. Because if she likes me, then she might be more likely to like my kid. It's true. My mom and sister are teachers and I've heard way too many behind-the-scenes stories from them. I've also heard (from them) that teachers are people too ... just like us.

My conference turned out to be an unexpected blast. Why? I've thought and thought about this. I didn't do anything premeditated going in (no kiss-a$$ bringing chocolates stuff here), but I do think a few things set both my child's teacher and me on the right path from the get-go. I'm no expert, but here are 10 quick tips I've tried that just might get your kid's teacher to like you—which might then make them like your kid more. And who doesn't want that?

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1. Communicate that you're on their side.

We've all heard this, but teachers need to know that us parents are here and ready to back them up. We know our kids act one way at home, and you bet our kids act a whole other way at school. Teachers need our support so they can just do their job. When my girl comes home and says, "Mrs. So-And-So told me this," my response is usually, "Well, it's her classroom and you need to go by her rules." Teachers need our back, so tell them they've got it. And mean it. For real.

2. Ask what you and your child can work on at home to make their day easier.

We both want my girl to succeed. Success doesn't happen for anybody if the classroom is in constant chaos. Teachers need parents to be good at what we do (parenting) just as much as we need teachers to be good at what they do (teaching). Nobody can be good at anything (especially the kid) if we're all not working toward the same thing.

People need people in this overwhelming world.

3. Bring goodies.

Not candy ... more like paper, the same glue sticks that the whole class just blew through or more soap for the bathroom. I just donated paper plates and napkins for an upcoming celebration and our teacher was so thankful. Even if you work and can't volunteer your time, ask what you might be able to offer to keep the mechanics of the class running smoothly. More tissues? Runny nose season is coming up.

4. Be on time.

Get your kid to class before it starts. My mom and sister have both told me this might be the No. 1 issue that can start the day wrong for everybody. Our children included (if we're the ones who are late). Imagine: You've got 24 kids lined up or sitting down, ready to go, and then one comes in late that makes everybody turn around, start talking and get completely unraveled before the day has even begun. Not cool. Set those alarms early if you have to.

5. Gift a coffee card just because.

OK I said no kiss-a$$ gifts, but there's nothing wrong with sending a $5 Starbucks card on a whim. "Your next coffee is on us," you might say. Maybe send it the day after we drop our kids off late?

6. Find a common ground.

If there's a time you might see your child's teacher and have room for conversation, open your mind to maybe getting a wee bit personal. Not like, "What's your love life like?" and more like, "Do you like coffee or tea?" Finding something in common with someone else humanizes everyone. I was lucky to talk frankly about my daughter with my girl's teacher, as real women can talk, all because we somehow discovered we were born and raised in the same area.

7. Ask them to "call your kid out" if your kid needs it. (Yes, I did this.)

What I said went something like this: "I know you don't need my permission as it's your class, but I promise you that if you need to call my girl out for doing something out of line, I will NOT harbor any judgment or ill-will about it." Because it is the teacher's classroom. (Again, it's that back them up thing.)

8. Check your body language.

We (parents) are not in charge at the conference; the teacher is. You're on their territory.

9. Listen to them first, then ask questions.

This is their job. Let them lead. Listen well. Then, ask organized questions and approach topics with deliberate and sensitive thoughtfulness to problem-solve any issues together as a team.

10. Thank them. Literally, say thank you.

Could you handle 25 kids at one time, five days a week, and stay sane? I couldn't.

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The moral? Be kind. Teachers are people, too. People need people in this overwhelming world packed with pressuring standardized testing, possibly-complicated home lives and the everyday struggles that each of our schools must endure, whether they be public or private institutions. If your kid's teacher likes you, you might like them more. And your kid might pick up on that. There's nothin' but good for the kids. Because parents and teachers are on the same team, whether you happen to think so or not.

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