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Why should I do it?

  • Establishes and builds trust and rapport with parents and home
  • Increases parent and home cooperation
  • Provides increased support for students at home
  • Helps dispel misinformation and mistruth students may give to parents
  • Avoids students positioning parents against teachers
  • Helps to get everyone on the same page
  • Helps to get parents involved and increases buy-in
  • Helps provide parents with accountability
  • Can diffuse angry parents’ concerns

When should I do it?

  • When students are struggling with behavior or academics
  • When students are doing well to help encourage them and their parents
  • When you hold behavior meetings
  • When students say they are doing something but clearly are not
  • When students are obviously lying
  • When students’ behavior or affect (emotions) change
  • When students say there is trouble in the home, like a death, illness, parent frequently not home, etc
  • When students appear messy and disheveled
  • When there appears to be little to no home support or follow through
  • When a parent is angry or negative toward the teacher, staff, or school
  • When students are sent to the office
  • When students receive rewards and praise in school

How do I do it?

  • Teachers and staff should talk to parents for both negative and positive reasons, like a student exhibiting good behavior or a student being sent to the office for poor behavior
  • When speaking to parents in person or over the phone, use a calm, neutral, and non-threatening tone
  • Make a list of key points to discuss before speaking to parents and try to stick to them
  • Always start conversations with parents saying positive things about their child and the parent
  • Use professional and appropriate language
  • Be sensitive and considerate
  • Be very aware of your body language and try to keep it neutral, for example, don’t cringe at a parent with poor hygiene or role your eyes when a parent is clearly lying
  • Know when to end a discussion with a parent, for example, when a parent begins to raise their voices, starts to become excessively animated, threatens, uses inappropriate language in an angry or threatening manner, stands up while speaking in an angry or threatening manner, will not listen to the teacher, become obstinate and belligerent, etc
  • Stop a discussion with a parent when you feel you are starting to become too angry, frustrated, agitated, etc to remain professional and appropriate
  • Don’t assume parents can read or fully understand papers, notes, their children’s’ home work, etc, rather, always offer to read letters, papers, etc for parents and always ask if parents understand what you are saying or reading, offering to re-explain it
  • Speak in plain language and avoid wordy or difficult to understand language
  • Set expectations, limits, and rules for discussion when you feel they have a high likelihood of becoming long, drawn out, hostile, tense, contentious, etc
  • Be thoughtful and considerate about when to include a student in a discussion with parents
  • Make sure you have a clear-cut goal or end to the discussion and make this clear to the parent early on
  • Provide parents with examples of whatever you are talking about with them regarding the student, like work samples, pictures, behavior logs and data tracking, etc
  • Speak with colleagues for advice, input, etc on parents they may have also dealt with and ask them to sit in on a parent conversation if needed
  • Document all parent meetings, talks, and contacts with a date, time, and a summary of the interaction
  • When necessary, like with hostile, difficult, angry parents, have an administrator join the parent contact

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