Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Day in the Life of a New Teacher...Approaching a Parent and Having a Difficult Conversation....

After a fun filled day of teaching and learning with first graders, I walked outside to greet the many parents who were waiting along the sidewalk beside my classroom. It was very common for parents and grandparents to arrive early enough to have time to talk with friends....sharing the latest rumors, news, and gossip. As I walked up to a father of a little boy in my class, the father leaned backwards, pressing his whole body against the brick wall, closed his eyes, clutched his hands against the bricks, sucked in his breath as if he would keel over any second if the wall wasn't there to support him, then uttered, "What's he done now?" You might be guessing that it wasn't the first time I'd chatted with him after school. And you're right.

I had worried all afternoon about how to begin the conversation.....reluctantly I said, "Well.... I've never had to tell anyone anything like this before." "Just go ahead and tell me," he whispered. I wondered how he read my face, how did he know he needed to brace for this news I was about to share? Mustering up all the courage I possessed, I said, "We had a little problem in class today....your son had a problem keeping his hands out of his pants....he was wearing sweatpants....there was an elastic waistband and he was distracted with the pants throughout the day....but......the problem came when others became distracted when he pulled his little thing all the way out of his pants." Totally humilated, this father looked at me and said, "Well, I guess we'll be wearing pants with a belt tomorrow!"

This was a priceless conversation and will always bring a smile to my face. It wasn't easy for me to talk to this father....but the conversation helped me grow professionally. I realized how important it was to enter into difficult conversations gently, to be honest, all the while remaining very sensitive to the parents' feelings. More importantly, I realized how important it was to have the kind of relationship with parents that you could share the good, the bad, and the ugly news. As soon as the year begins....share the good news...because you don't want to have to share something bad...before you've built a relationship around the good stuff.

When it is necessary to approach parents and have difficult conversations, consider these things:

  • The parents love the child with all their heart. He/She is their most prized possession.

  • Begin the conversation with something positive

  • Enter into the difficult part as gently as possible....then, share the information.

  • Share a plan of the things that you will be doing at school

  • Ask the parents how they might be able to help at home

  • Ask the parents if they have other ideas

  • Vow to keep the parents updated....and follow through on a regular basis

No comments:

Post a Comment