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Ten Tips for
Making Your Next Visit With Your Child's Teacher a Positive One
~ By Fran Briggs
How productive are today's parent/teacher conferences? Not as
productive as they once were; or so it appears. Clashes in the
classrooms between parents and teachers have recently been
identified as "the new power struggle." In one account, Gref Sarette,
a Grade-school music teacher from Lakewood, CO, gave this statement.
"I called the parents on a discipline issue with their
daughter... Her father called me a 'total jerk.' Then he said,
'Well, do you want to meet someplace and take care of this man to
In response to the cover story of TIME magazine's, "What Teachers
Hate About Parents" (Feb. 21, 2005), The Fran Briggs Companies has
constructed a Tip Sheet. It offers guidelines for creating and
maintaining healthy and positive partnerships between parents and
Tips for Making Your Next Visit With Your Child's Teacher a Positive
1. Prepare for the Meeting in Advance
Take the time to plan for the meeting in advance. Children exceed
expectations when they know that the adults in their lives are in
unison about their success. Write down your child's strengths and
make a commitment to join forces with the educator on as many issues
as you can.
2. Be on Time
Make every effort to be punctual. Being late can make any meeting
awkward. And, don't be too early. Your child's teacher may have
appointments scheduled before, and after you.
3. You're a Professional, too!
Demonstrate your expertise. As a parent or guardian, you
automatically qualify as an expert. When speaking with your child's
teacher, demonstrate your own sense of self-respect. You can use a
calm voice tone and still speak with authority. Avoid ultimatums and
coercive behavior at all costs.
4. Communicate With Compassion
Keep in mind that your child's teacher experiences many of the same
stressors of every day life as you do. Share your values with your
child's teacher. Don't assume the teacher knows. Educating him can
give him the insight needed to understand your views.
5. Dress a Cut Above the Rest
Look sharp! Remember, if you are a parent or guardian; you are a
professional. Dress accordingly. There is nothing wrong with
"dressing up" for a meeting with your child's teacher. You will
never see a child wince with embarrassment because his mother was
seen wearing a "power suit" to his school. The proper attire can
help you move and speak with confidence.
6. Be Willing to Accept Responsibility
Hold yourself accountable whenever appropriate. Don't play the
"blame game." Simply demonstrate a willingness to rectify the
7. Use a Solution-oriented Approach
Bring a list of possible solutions to the table. Use your sharpest
negotiation skills, but be flexible. Consider meeting your child's
teacher half way.
8. You are a Role Model
Recognize the fact that you are a role model. Your child
instinctively and unconsciously, imitates your behaviors, words and
actions. Demonstrate the actions and respect you expect from your
child, when meeting with his educator.
9. Don't Leave the Table Without Both You and the Teacher Having a
Clear Understanding of Expectations
Take good notes! Make sure you have written follow up plan, a list
of clear expectations for both of you, and an agreement on "the next
step." Not to, is counterproductive. Up to 95% of parents leave a
meeting with their child's teacher with absolutely nothing in their
10. No Matter How Awkward the Meeting, Enter and Leave, Honorably
Decide in advance to smile and greet the teacher with a
smile/handshake. Then, as you leave, repeat the gesture.
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