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Lessons Learned
by Jim LaBuda
Assistant Professor of Education
Nevada State College

Teacher-Parent Communication

During my years in K-12 education, I always prided myself on communicating with parents. Oh, there were a few parent meetings that left me with some gray hairs but I guess I can also contribute a few of

those graying hairs to my own kids. The fact is, being a teacher is a challenging job and so is being a parent. As a result, there are teacher-parent meetings that don’t go well.

Here are some tips that may assist both teacher and parent in the upcoming school year when a teacher-parent meeting is needed.

Time – Schedule a meeting when it is convenient to both of you. Parents: Don’t try to squeeze in a conference when the teacher is teaching, dismissing the students or heading to a meeting. Teachers: Don’t grab a parent when they have a baby in their arms and racing to soccer practice. You both need time to calmly discuss the issue.

Listen – When you schedule the meeting, don’t forget to take time to listen to each other. You both have important information to share. Listen to each other, paraphrase what you are hearing and provide each other with factual information. Teachers tend to get defensive about their teaching and parents about their children. Remember you both want the student to succeed, so be respectful and listen to each other.

Define Your Roles in the Solution – The solution is not just a teacher task or a parent task. You both must walk away from the meeting with an understanding of what you will do to assist the student in being successful. It is also important that in this plan the student understand their responsibilities. We can provide support and structure but they will have to make good choices.

Schedule a Follow-up Meeting – Usually students issues are not solved overnight. You need to have a plan in place and implement it consistently. The real key is that the teacher and parent keep in communication and work together to solve the issue. If you support each other, there is a better chance you will see student progress.

I hope all the parents, teachers and students have a great school year. Keep talking to each other and smile at each other in the grocery store!

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