Talkin’ To Teachers
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on February 24, 2012
Sometimes I have the pleasure of going to a high school to talk to teachers about ADHD. This fictionalized story illustrates a moment which made me pause. During the lunch session that I had with teachers, one teacher told me about a student who was hyperactive, although not severely, causing this teacher to pause in her discussion. When I inquired if she had told the parents about this student, she said I did not want to “worry them”. She made me realize that when a teacher reports a behavior to parents, they are faced with the uncertainty of how these parents will react. Some might get extremely anxious, and some might get angry. There is always the fear of the “kill the messenger” response. I never really thought before as to why teachers may not be communicating to parents about the concerns they have in their students. In the past, I had attributed poor communication to the fact that the teacher had too many students, or that the teacher was unaware of what was going on in the classroom. Now, I realize that teachers, like therapists, are faced with the sensitivity of parents who cringe at the idea that their child may not be “normal”. No one wants to make a parent cringe. We all would rather have a narcissistic festival where the teacher and the student are thriving in this academic environment that we call school. A “problem” in that environment opens the discussion to a blame game, where the injured, in this case the parents, might throw the blame away from their child and on to the school. Sometimes, of course, the parents may appropriately assess that the school is failing their child. Other times, though, the parents are blaming the school, blaming the teacher, as a way of avoiding dealing with the problems in their child. It is obvious that everyone benefits from open communication and parents should be told when their child is a behavior problem in the classroom. It is now also obvious to me, another reason this open communication may be inhibited. As I said, it is a pleasure talking to teachers.