Recently I had a colleague who had to deal with a difficult parent and both ended up being upset. I thought about some tips that have helped me deal with difficult interactions with parents and here they are:
1. Remember that these parents/guardians care about their child which may cause them to become emotional. Do not take this personal and be glad that they care.
2. Remember the goal is to work together to help the student be successful. This is a good thing to state right at the beginning to help both the teacher and the parent start on the same page. Make the parent feel valued and an important part of the team.
3. Try to imagine that this is your child and you are the parent. How would the words coming out of your mouth affect you if you were the parent?
4. Try to state facts and leave feelings and emotions out of it telling about something that happened.
5. Do not put the parent on the defensive.
6. Don’t put the blame anywhere. Instead remember the object of the meeting is to find some solutions.
7. Before the meeting, if you have some problems with the student, try to think of some possible solutions to offer. Don’t go in a meeting bashing the student without any positives. Remember you are the professional who was trained to help students. Even write a list down if necessary.
8. Ask the parent for input. Ask if there is something that is going on to cause the behavior. Ask the parent if this happens at home and what they do in this situation. Ask if the audience to the behavior is the same (are there almost the same amount of peers or adults when this occurs). This might help the parent see the situation more clearly.
9. If a plan for the students is developed, discuss how it will be evaluated and reviewed. Assure the parent that you will keep them notified how the plan is working and then make sure you follow up on this.
10. Have a plan in case the meeting does not go well and you need to end it abruptly. Plan out what you will say and have a plan of action. Hopefully you won’t need to do this but it is better to be prepared.
What other suggestions do you have? Please share!
Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).