The best thing about young students is that they all have their own unique personalities. While some are well-behaved, eager pleasers in class, some can tend to be more disruptive, unruly, and…not as well-behaved. There comes a point when you must address certain behavioral issues with the student’s parents, so together, you can come up with a solution that helps the student to do better, and ultimately succeed in school. Here are some tips for touching on this touchy topic with parents.
Send a classroom management packet home
During the first week of school, or when a new student enters the classroom, send home a notice that outlines classroom expectations, including rules, guidelines, and goals. Parents should know exactly what type of behavior is acceptable in your class. During your conference, you can refer back to the guidelines, and parents won’t be taken by surprise should you have to address that their child is not complying with any of these standards.
This one should go without saying, but greet parents with a kind hello and a smile. Start off the meeting with some small talk, and get to know them personally, before diving into any issues. By putting parents at ease, they will be a less defensive and more receptive to your feedback about their child. Maintain a positive tone and attitude throughout the conversation.
The purpose of talking to parents about their child’s behavior is to strictly inform. Keep thoughts, opinions, and advice to a minimum (or entirely to yourself). If parents ask for your opinion, be cautious, and try to be as diplomatic as possible. Keep in mind you and the parents only want what’s best for their child.
Stick to the facts
Tell the student’s parents exactly what happened, or what has been happening, that prompted the conference or telephone call. Stick to what you know to be true, which brings us to our next tip.
Be straightforward and say, “This behavior is interfering with learning, and is not allowed in this classroom.” Don’t hold back or allow any room for misinterpretation, because the most helpful language for parents is the plain truth.
Explain how you are handling the behavior
After giving the facts of the incident or behavior, let the parents know how the problem is being handled at school. Explain the rule or guideline that the student has broken, and how he or she is being held accountable. Assure the parents that you are doing your part to help resolve the issue, change the behavior, and turn it into a teachable moment.
Try to conduct conversations or conferences with parents, especially over the phone, in less than five minutes. End the call by indicating to parents that you appreciate their support and that they can call or email with any further questions.
It’s never easy talking to parents about behavioral issues. However, keep in mind, parents appreciate being informed, and most certainly want to know about any issues, so they too can address them at home. Parents can use this information as a way to open up dialogue with their child, and discuss any underlying issues that may be causing the behavior at school. All children are good children, some just need a little extra guidance in regard to classroom etiquette. Do you have any tips for talking to parents about a difficult student? Share them in the comments section below.
(Source: Smart Classroom Management, June, 2011)