Idyllwild Arts: A Red Dress - Communicating Effectively with Teachers

Published : Thursday, July 6, 2017 | 12:24 PM

One Idyllwild Arts Academy teacher remembers hearing the same story from his late mother many times. She asked her third-grade teacher for permission to go to the restroom and the teacher refused.

“Finally, I peed through my new red dress and all over my seat. The next day my father went with me to talk to her, and it was the angriest I ever saw him. That teacher was as sweet as pie to me after that.”

Although some situations call for anger, most teachers are more reasonable than this one. But teachers who push students to do their best can create friction. When a problem comes up between a teacher and a student, both the student and the parent(s) will benefit by remembering a few things as they communicate with the teacher.

The National Parent Teacher Association’s recommendations (Link) include:

• Providing personalized information about the student (for example, whether there are health or learning issues, or recent significant changes in the student’s home life)
• Asking about the best way to contact the teacher—and the best time, since teachers are often busy and might feel ambushed if contacted without warning
• Diplomacy, especially in e-mail communications, when you can’t soften what might look like criticism with your tone of voice or body language

One online resource that offers advice about paying and preparing for college has some recommendations (Link) aimed at students that can also help parents:

• Earn the teacher’s trust by taking part in class discussions and staying off electronics
• Frame questions in a non-accusatory tone (for example, by asking “Would you please explain. . .?” instead of “Why did you. . .?”
• Write thank-you notes to teachers who have been especially helpful

That Idyllwild teacher’s mother visited her old school when she was an adult. The chair she had peed on was still stained red. Tactful communication with reasonable teachers will create happier indelible memories.


Idyllwild Arts, 52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild, CA 92549-0038, (951) 659-2171 or visit








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