How do you deal with parents tactfully?

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Answered by: Phillip, An Expert in the How to Talk to Parents Category
While it is a teacher's job to teach students new facts and information, there is also another very important part of the job that must not be overlooked: How do you deal with parents tactfully? Most parents want their children to be the best they can be. A lot of the parents will come to you, the teacher, with questions and concerns about their child's academic performance and behavior. In addition to dealing with children, the teacher needs to know how to be tactful to parents as well. Below are some tips to help maintain good relationships with parents.

1. Be proactive- This is extremely important, especially for new teachers. If all possible, before the school year starts, try to contact each individual parent over the phone, introduce yourself, tell them you are looking forward to working with their child, and that your number one goal is to make sure their child has a successful school year. This sets a great impression because you are calling the parent before something happens behaviorally or academically. The purpose of you calling is to make a connection with the parents and show them how you care. That way, if something happens, you already have spoken to the parent and have a rapport. On a positive note, it is more likely that they will understand that you were calling because you are showing a sincere interest.

2. Focus on the positive before the negatives- Understand that parents are very sensitive about their children. Before addressing an area of concern, it is very important to first bring up the strength of the child. After giving out information about the child's strengths, dive into the area of concern. Likewise, try your best to close out the conversation on a positive note. This is actually called the sandwiching strategy: good news, bad news, good news. You do not want the parents to think you are a negative teacher who is against their child. Once again, talking about strengths along with weaknesses shows a sincere interest in someone else's child. It also changes a parent's perspective of you.

3. Make sure you document everything with dates and times and a brief description- It's like dotting your I's and crossing your t's. For example, if a parent is angry at you and concerned that you are not doing something you are supposed to be doing for the child, make sure you are documenting what you are doing to help the child. That way, if you end up in a meeting with a parent and the principal, you have your information documented and you can prove that you were doing what you were supposed to be doing. This gives a parent less to argue about and shows that you are indeed putting the parent's concerns into consideration.

4. Make sure you show that you are listening and that you are genuinely concerned- Nothing makes a parent angrier than when a teacher does not listen. When the parent is talking to you, make sure you make eye contact, and don't be afraid to take notes. You want to show the parent that what he or she is saying is important and that you are listening.

5. Don't always listen to what colleagues say about parents and/or students- When dealing with a parent, make sure that you do not go into the situation with a biased attitude. Draw your own conclusions about your impressions of the parent. Walking into a parent meeting with preconceived notions is dangerous. No matter how difficult or challenging the situation, you want to make sure that the relationship gets off on the right foot. After all, you may connect differently with this parent.

Once again, How do you deal with parents tactfully, is a very important question to ask yourself before going into the field of teaching. After all, relationships with parents are almost as important as relationships with students. Remember, be proactive, focus on positives as well as negatives, be sure to document and keep good records, make sure you show you are listening, and don't always jump to conclusions about what your colleagues say. If you are able to take these five steps and implement them into your practice, you are well on your way to dealing with parents tactfully.

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