Good teachers provide customer service

April 25, 2013|Lisa Prejean

As a teacher, I have had to deal with parents who feel their children have been slighted in some way. It is my goal to treat every concern as if it is legitimate.

Sometimes parents just need someone to vent to, and a teacher seems like a logical choice.

Think about it. Few people spend more time with a child or a teen than the teachers who instruct him or her on a daily basis. There are perhaps some days that I spend more time with my students than their parents do. Hopefully, I am getting to know these young people and can sense if something is wrong.

By seeking insights from a teacher, parents might be able to better understand the situations that arise.

Sometimes, though, a parent will automatically accept a teen's perspective and fail to see the bigger picture.

Teenagers tend to see the world in a way that everyone and everything relates to them, as if they are the center of the universe.

Left to their own devices, they might think that their peers, their instructors and their coaches are out to get them.

Then they express their frustrations to their parents.

Let's face it. No parent wants to see their child hurt, overlooked or underappreciated. Most parents instinctly want to protect and protest.

The hardest conversations I've ever had have taken place with parents who thought I didn't have their child's best interests at heart. The best approach is to listen, show compassion and respond with kindness. Most parents have a different viewpoint by the end of the conversation.

Once a parent asked why I had disciplined her son for throwing away his trash. When I explained to her that he was seated and had tossed a wad of paper through the air to the trash can about 20 feet away, she more clearly understood what had happened. Her son ended up with discipline at home, too.

I am here to provide the highest form of customer service imaginable. What could be more important than the development of our youth? I want parents to feel like we are on the same team, working toward the same goal, achieving the same outcome.

If I didn't care, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing, working around the clock, grading papers and preparing lessons most every evening and weekend so that classroom time can be spent interacting with students. I do care, and there are many teachers who feel the same way.

Sometimes a simple one-on-one conversation with a parent can reveal that sentiment.

When was the last time you talked to your child's teacher?

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send email to

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