This is a great post from the Successful Teaching blog, though I might change the term “confronting” to “working with” or something a little less… well… confrontational.
The author’s suggestions about focusing on sharing objective information with the parent is vital. Remembering that you are the Professional, they are the Parent, and that you’re both here to help the child be successful, will help both find a compromise that benefits this child. If helping kids is not the focus of the conference, you-the-Professional should redirect the conversation toward working together to find solutions.
Read their list first. Here are some suggestions that could be added to the list:
- Accentuate the Positive: A positive, welcoming phone call home early in the year or term can win you lots of points later during the time you spend with the child in your classroom. Parents often complain that they never hear from teachers until after a small problem has become big enough for a conference.
- Back It Up With Facts: Save work samples that exhibit your concerns and celebrations, and use these to help the parent understand what you are seeing in the classroom. If these are observational items, start making tally marks on a seating chart, calendar, etc., to show frequency of behaviors that concern you.
- Make Sandwiches: No, not literally. “Sandwich” your concerns between positive comments during the meeting. Asking for help from parents and finding out what works well at home will help make a great cooperative sandwich. For example,
- I’ve noticed that Johnny loves to read a lot. I notice that he will be reading a book or a magazine when I’m teaching the class, and I’m concerned that he may not be paying attention to the lesson. I’ve marked this on my calendar and it seems to happen at least 3-4 times a week. It’s great that he loves reading so much! <there’s your sandwich, supported with objective data… now follow it up with things from the blog post, like…> I want to help Johnny find a way to enjoy his reading habits at more appropriate times, and I’d really like to build on the foundation that you and his other teachers have built. What kinds of things work to redirect Johnny’s attention at home?