May I offer you some advice?
If you have a question, a problem, or an issue with your child’s teacher, go directly to the teacher as soon as possible.
When an issue arises, you might be tempted to gossip about it with others. You might be tempted to turn to other parents and ask them if they have the same problem you have. You might be tempted to bury it until it festers into anger or bitterness. You might be tempted to send a scathing text or email. You might be tempted to stew over it until it bursts out later. When you get word of something that your child’s teacher did that doesn’t seem quite right, you will be tempted to do lots of things that are neither productive nor biblical.
The right response, however, is to go to your child’s teacher with a gentle and gracious spirit and simply ask to talk about the issue. In Matthew 18 our Lord taught us that if someone sins against us (or if we think they might have done so), we ought to go directly to that person and tell him his fault. Talking about the issue with other people, unless you are genuinely seeking counsel in dealing with the issue, is not an option. It requires humility in parents to go to a teacher with the right spirit. It also requires humility in a teacher to be willing to acknowledge his or her faults and rectify them. It takes wisdom, too, because sometimes the teacher has done nothing wrong or has unintentionally hurt feelings.
And (shocking news!) sometimes the information that came from our child is faulty. It’s not that our children are liars (though, of course, sometimes our children do lie), but more often it’s just that children don’t tell the whole story, or else they tell it with a certain bent. Parents often just need the whole story, and the teacher is the one to provide that fuller picture. To put it in terms of Ronald Reagan’s Cold War advice, “Trust, but verify.”
Many times, the matter at hand can be cleared up with a carefully framed question and a carefully considered answer. It’s amazing what happens when parents and teachers come together with the common purpose of doing what is best for the child, in a way that glorifies God. “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouths of fools pour out folly” (Prov 15:1-2). “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver” (Prov 25:11).
Providence teachers are not only willing to talk things over with you – they are eager to do so. Almost every week, I see or hear of faithful parents who come to a teacher and share their concern, and the issue is dealt with peacefully and effectively. We live together in community, with teachers partnering with parents to teach and train children for Christ. We are fellow believers — grown-ups — who are called to act in love.
Now, I know that these are your children, and it is easy to get emotional or upset when you perceive that a teacher is out of line toward your child. All the more reason to pray, act with intentionality, and go straight to the one who needs to work it out: the teacher.
What do you do if that meeting doesn’t yield results? That is the time, perhaps, to go to the headmaster and seek another hearing. Maybe there is more information that will clear things up, or maybe the headmaster can go to the teacher and get to the bottom of things and bring a resolution to the matter.
In any case, we should consider what St. Paul taught us in Galatians 5:14-15. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”
Good advice indeed.