UCB Parents Advice about School
Meeting with Teachers
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When is the right time to meet with teachers?
My son, a freshman, just received his first report card. I'm a bit
concerned in a few areas of subjects that I see some improvements are
needed in this report card...
My adolescent is saying he is a bit short to get "A"s and knows where
he needs to improve and will work hard to get more "A"s. He is taking
all advanced classes and is a pretty good boy. Is this the right time for
a mother to schedule to see his counselor/teachers to find out more
about his academic abilities or should I at least wait one more report
card to have a conversation with his teachers to see what help is needed
At this stage, it is better as parens tot let kids motivate themselves,
but I wonder which is a right way since there is no time to waste
anymore for college.
I need your feedback on this issue. Please give me your thoughts...
Whenever you ask a question like that, it's time to meet with the
teacher. You don't want to put pressure on your son BUT you also want to
know what he can do to improve.
Flora Russ --
I think any time you're somewhat concerned is the right time to meet with
teachers. First, it's important to find out for yourself how responsive
your son's teachers are. At back-to-school nights, I've found most
teachers will offer their home phone numbers with reasonable requests not
to call too late, and/or they offer e-mail, and parents should definitely
take them up on their offer. It's important to see what your son might be
like from the teacher's perspective, and it's better to find out his
weaknesses or bad habits now than to wait for final grade reports that are
then set in stone. Progress reports are just that--for you to see his
progress and for him to see how his work and attitude in class is perceived
by the teacher, and to know where to go from there. Some feedback is
absolutely necessary in a large school like BHS in order for you to know
where your son fits in with the larger institutional picture. I agree with
you that parents should allow their children to be self-motivated, but I
feel it's in our child's best interest to know how they're progressing in
school because we can provide the larger picture--their future, what
college choices they will have, or other career choices they might look at
after high school, that grades may matter now and in college but good study
habits, learning to work under pressure, learning to organize and research
well, read critically and be well-informed--these are more important
lessons to take from the classroom out into the real world. Teens get so
involved with their life in the here and now, that often they can't see
their way out of the forest. This outlook certainly fits some of the teens
I know, but not all.
I have a bright and motivated freshman son attending a private high school.
His first interim progress report, with comments from those teachers who
graded below B-, suggested he was lax in turning in assignments I knew that
he had completed. I discussed this with him and gave hime a week to follow
up himself with those teachers, before I would intervene. He did as I
suggested, and the grades shot up by the time I reviewed subsequent interim
notices (he requested these through the counseling office).
I spoke with a couple of the teachers in acknowledgment of my "game plan,"
and invited them to keep me posted. I also had a get-acquainted chat by
phone with his academic counselor.
Now, near the end of the end of this first semester, the declining grades
have returned (by similar informal written notification). This time, I asked
my son to review the subject area issues with me, and address the specific
performance issues with each of the teachers before reporting to me, which he
has done. I have also monitored his improvements more closely in these
ensuing days. I have made an appointment to visit with his school counselor
to check with her on this strategy, and her point of view on freshmen
I intend by all this to put a process in place that respects my son's
individual responsibility while giving me as close a view of the scholastic
stakes, benefits of this kind of learning and familiarity with this school's
policies (and academic ropes) as possible. I agree that some autonomy is
important, as his "owning" responsibility for his grades will, in the long
run, matter most.
Please remember how many profound changes take place in this first semester
of high school! There are all kinds of new issues, and lessons, to be
learned. College anxiety had better wait, while our kids learn how to
navigate the bigger High School environment with fewer friendly reminders of
what to do, when.
Anonymous/ Wait-it-out Mom in Oakland
I would say that you should jump in as soon as you feel so inclined. It may
be appropriate for you to wait on further intervention until he has had a
chance to work on things himself, but it couldn't hurt to find out what is
going on in the classroom. There is good information to be had. I
discovered that my daughter's complaints about teachers were sometimes
excuses and sometimes right on. She needed help in learning how to negotiate
a different type of teaching style or personality, things that you can't
"get" by working harder. I also think it's helpful for the student to know
that you're still on their side and willing to jump in on their behalf, even
if they are mature enough to handle it on their own.
My daughter and I also discovered that most of her teachers had a positive
response to parent meetings. They percieved that the parents and the student
were more concerned about what was going on and this carried over into
classroom interactions. I now visit with my daughter's teachers each
semester, usually before grades come out at all. Just to "check in" and see
how I might help. It also seems that the teachers are more likely to call
and discuss things with me early on rather than after they've become big
problems if they have a parent's face to go with the student.
Best of luck!!
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