Education is a partnership formed on behalf of the child. You can’t have a real partnership without good communication between parents and educators. If you are a parent reading this, you may want to know what reasonable requests to make of your child’s teacher. If you are an educator, you may recognize some of the techniques I recommend because they are things you already do. If these are new ideas, I hope you find them useful in your classroom.

Teachers should be aware that, if a child has ever been tested or evaluated for anything other than the gifted program, the parent of that child comes to every meeting with great trepidation. Some are terrified of what you are going to tell them. Whatever negative information you have, they’ve probably heard it or something like it before. That’s very likely what led them to have their child evaluated in the first place.

Keeping in mind the goal of a partnership between parent and educator on behalf of the child, you, as the teacher, have your work cut out for you. It is hard to establish a partnership with good communication when one side feels defensive. Unfortunately, parents’ defensiveness often comes across as anger or hostility. To have a real partnership there needs to be a sense of equality. That can only happen if both sides believe they have something to offer and something to gain. Help parents understand that they have something to give by asking for input in the development of strategies to help their child. Using phrases like “I’ve noticed that Kathy frequently interrupts or asks off-topic questions. Have you ever noticed this?” Or, “What do you do when she calls other children names?” “I’d like to brainstorm some ideas to build her social skills.” “Have any of Jonathan’s past teachers come up with any ideas to help him get his homework in on time?” Soliciting parents’ ideas and input goes a long way in making them feel it’s not an adversarial situation.


Establishing routines in a classroom, procedures that remain the same every day, is one of the best supports you can give a student. Repetition allows for practice. And practice, as we all know, makes…well, perfection may be a bit much to expect.

Here are a few more ideas I’ve gathered from the many teachers with whom I've worked.

  • A starting assignment should be on the desk or on the board every morning (at the beginning of every class). There should be a completion time posted right on the assignment. It should not become part of homework if it is not finished.
  • Homework assignments should be posted in the same place every day. Even if you have reviewed the assignment during class, teaching should stop five minutes before the end of the day (period) to allow time to record the assignment. Then students should trade assignment notebooks with their neighbor and sign off on the book if all information is recorded correctly.
  • Establish a routine for collecting homework. Many times the only reason an assignment doesn’t get handed in is that the student didn’t hear the direction to do so.
  • Give credit for partial completion and for late assignments. Often students have done some or most of an assignment. They fail to turn it in at the time or later because in the past the emphasis has been placed on what wasn’t done. What is the point of handing in something that invites criticism? If you want a way to determine what they have learned, agree to credit any evidence of learning.
  • Allow students the opportunity to retake tests or quizzes. Though you may want to limit what the ultimate grade might be, you want to encourage their wanting to improve their grade by demonstrating mastery.

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