How to Reach Out to Your Child’s Subject Teacher
Most parents will be in touch with their child’s classroom teacher from time to time to check in and see how things are going. Classroom teachers work full-time and are around after school or via email for questions or concerns. However, children in K-12 may also learn from a subject teacher, someone who works with children in different grade levels but who teaches only one subject. Most commonly, subject teachers introduce students to art, music, physical education, and foreign language. Parents often interact with subject teachers if their children attend a private or charter school or when their kids start middle or high school. Although these teachers generally don’t work on core subjects, it’s important to maintain open lines of communication so the parent can be involved in their child’s overall education.
1. Job share/part-time
Many subject teachers work on a job share or part-time basis, meaning they might only be on campus 2 or 3 days a week. This can make it a little bit harder for parents to get in touch in person, especially if they aren’t sure which days the teacher is available. At the beginning of the year, it’s a good idea to reach out and ask the teacher when he or she is on campus. Most part-time teachers work with parents on the days they are on campus but may only be available by email on alternate days.
2. Remote communication
If your child’s subject teacher is hard to get hold of in person, lines of communication can remain open remotely. Each school district will have different communication systems in place, but email is a great place to start. Some schools are becoming more tech-savvy and will have an instant message or chat system where parents can essentially send a quick message similar to a text. Other systems, for serious matters such as grades or missing assignments, might be communicated through a different, more official system (READ: “3 Reasons Why You Should Talk to Your Teacher”).
3. By appointment
Parents may only be able to get in touch with subject teachers in person by appointment. If the teacher only works in the morning, for example, they may not even be on campus for pickup. Parents who work full-time or who have a busy schedule are likely to be able to chat with the subject teacher during an in-person or phone appointment.
4. Open house/after school night
Most schools hold an open house or after school night that takes place throughout the year. This is the best opportunity to get to know your child’s subject teachers because they are there mainly to chat with parents and students. Additionally, teachers will be prepared to answer complicated or abstract questions at this time. Even if a child is doing well in all of their non-core classes, it’s still a good opportunity to interact with all of their teachers (READ: “5 Things That Happen When Kids Get Too Much Screen Time”).
5. Parent-teacher association
Another great way to be in touch with the subject teacher, and stay involved in general, is to join the Parent-Teacher Association. Some schools will have very large associations while smaller schools may meet informally from time to time. The PTA is a fabulous opportunity for parents and teachers to come together and discuss any issues that currently affect students.
6. Why be in touch with the subject teacher?
Although core subjects, math, and English, are heavily emphasized through standardized testing and, eventually, college prep, subjects that are part of the non-core curriculum can be just as essential to a child’s overall education. Whether a student is working on creativity, sports, or learning a second language, these activities and skills will become a huge part of their life and career. Also, subject teachers see kids on a regular basis and can offer parents great insight into the kid’s current enthusiasm for school and how they are getting along with peers.