This past Thursday, I had my second series of parent teacher conferences at school. I have a good to great relationship with parents, mainly because I try to maintain some form of communication with them, either through progress reports or phone calls. Yet I’ve seen so many mistakes during parent-teacher conferences that I’m astonished we don’t have training about dealing with parents specifically. Feel free to contribute your offerings in the comment box. I’m sure to be missing other horrible things.
5. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”
As you’ll see with some of the comments I’ll highlight below, a big part of dealing with parents is knowing when to say things indirectly but concretely. You want to come across as firm and confident, not defensive and / or apologetic.
4. “Your son / daughter may just need a shower.”
I’ve heard it. Personal hygiene questions should be redirected to someone else, or maybe said indirectly. Then again, I still don’t address it usually.
3. “Meeting you now, it’s no wonder why your child acts the way they do.”
Alright, so you’re not being defensive, but now you’re being offensive. Even if you’re a parent, attacking another parent directly is usually uncalled for. Unless they attack you, then I’ll turn around when anything happens. I won’t tell.
2. (while a parent is reprimanding a student) “I think you’re being a little too harsh.”
It’s one thing to think that the parent’s being too harsh, even when the child got a 65 on your report card and the parent, who works a full-time job, took time out of their busy work schedule just to see their child’s turning out to be wasting their time. And it’s quite another to do it in the middle of a heated dispute between the parent and the child. Rather than say that directly, it’s better to give a more reaffirming and positive tone to your voice if you think the child has potential to do better. If the child earns the chastising, then let it be.
1. “You’re wrong.”
Mission: abort. That’s the last thing you want to tell the person who you’re supposed to work with for the betterment of the child’s education. You can say it, but there are better ways to tell someone they’re wrong without telling them they’re wrong. I’ve had to tell parents about the facts and the realities that happen in their classroom versus what they supposedly act like in home. I’ve had to show parents their child’s portfolio and compare it to others. Again, all facts. But “You’re wrong” sends off a different connotation.
Now, all of these statements come with the stipulation that the parent isn’t threatening your life. Then, you’re free to go Liam Neeson on these fools. Otherwise, please be cautious and constructive. Parents, even more than co-workers, can be your best friends.
Jose, who let a few kids have it right in front of their parents, and they loved it …