Candid Teacher Admits: I wish someone had given me techniques for handling parents.
On days like this, what I dread more than a student melt-down is parent meetings. Some parents are confrontational, over-assertive, think they have all the answers, and are completely and utterly inflexible. In college, I was not taught a single strategy for talking to parents.
When I began teaching last year, I was very straight forward and well, candid, with parents. It was hard for me to put myself in their shoes. I have learned that before speaking with parents I must remind myself that their child is their little prince/princess, angel, pride and joy; whatever you want to call it. I have to tell myself, “I am giving these parents news about their 5 or 6 year old child,” Repeating this to myself helps me speak to parents in a professional yet understanding manner.
Here is what I’ve learned regarding parent-teacher relationships so far:
1. Don’t take it personally.
Parents are worse than your peers sometimes. Once a parent told me they felt my tone was rude and I lacked concern. At first I nearly cried (I was so proud of myself for keeping the tears reined in!), but then I realized that from their perspective, I may have seemed cold. Don’t let parent negativity affect how you feel about teaching or about their child.
2. Be confident in yourself.
Parents quickly pick up if you’re waffling or seem unsure of yourself.
3. Don’t be afraid to admit to a mistake.
For example, you call home to say their child hit another and they say their child did not do it but you insist they did, and later you find out the hit was an accident; or if you are accidentally “rude” as I was called in the example above. Don’t be afraid to apologize and say you misunderstood the situation. They will respect you for it.
4. Try to put yourself in their shoes. If this was your child, how would you want to hear the news you’re about to give them?
It’s easier to say these words than practice them. I hope I don’t let parents ruin the joy of teaching for me.