Later this week is back-to-school night at my daughter’s elementary school, and I think I’m nearly as excited to meet her teacher as she was. After listening to my daughter’s daily descriptions over the last few days, I’ve begun to form my own positive impression…and can only hope this mental picture lives up to my expectations. Putting a face to a name is always nice, especially when it’s the person who’s educating your child for the next 180 days. No matter whether you look forward to a school open house, or you find yourself painfully reliving those days spent at wobbly desks and smelly gym classes, it pays to develop a good rapport with your child’s teacher in the long run. Aiming to open up the lines of communication between teacher and parent comes a new paperback that deserves a spot on your nightstand. Way to Go, written by educator Mary Beth Gaertner, is an insightful look at what makes a good school-based relationship. With over 30 years of experience in the classroom and the main office, the author is clearly an authority on helping to fine-tune your dealings with your child’s teacher. She shares snippets of letters from both teachers and parents to demonstrate effective (and ineffective) dialogue–an eye-opening device cleverly disguised as a teaching tool in and of itself–and also puts herself in the shoes of the parent by offering teachers advice on “listening without defense.” I was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar tactic, “Tell the Teacher More” Day, which my daughter’s own teacher had already implemented. A very good sign indeed.
In a Nutshell: A lesson well-taught, Way to Go is worth a read-through, whether you are attending your 1st or 14th back-to-school night. Parent/teacher conferences everywhere are bound to go a bit more smoothly with the help of this book.