Parent-Teacher Collaboration (page 3)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jan 1, 2011

Preparing for a Collaborative Parent-Teacher Meeting

Sometimes it is necessary for a parent and a teacher to meet. A parent may have medical documentation, for example, or a child's work samples to show the teacher. A parent may also have a question about a child's grade, amount of homework, or the teacher's classroom management skills and feels more comfortable discussing this in a face-to-face meeting. In this section, we suggest a six-step process for engaging in an informal meeting with a teacher or parent. These tips will help ensure a successful, productive meeting.

Step 1: List Your Concerns   It is appropriate to bring a list of questions to the meeting. The concerns do not need to be detailed in paragraph or even sentence form; a numbered or bulleted list may suffice.

Step 2: Listen to the Other Party   It's probably best to take turns talking. If a parent goes first, the teacher should answer all of the parent's questions before asking her own. A collaborative discussion may commence after both parties have asked their questions. Allowing each person time to address his or her points is important. Of course, how each responds and what is said is important, too.

Step 3: Ask Questions   Now is the time to ask your questions. It's best to raise one question or concern at a time; a rapid-fire approach can be very confusing. Once the other person answers your question to your satisfaction, move on to the next point. If the answer is unclear, be sure to ask for clarification. If necessary, take notes.

Step 4: Be Prepared to Brainstorm   Parents and teachers may meet because a child has problems with his behavior, academics, social skills, or some other issue—or perhaps more than one of these areas. Brainstorming allows parents and teachers to generate creative and imaginative solutions to his challenges. There may be many obvious solutions to these problems, but if they don't work, some creativity may be required. If they can work together, parents and teachers have a better chance of finding solutions that will help a child in the classroom and at home.

Step 5: Be Open to the Other Person's Suggestions   Brainstorming requires both creativity and patience. You need to allow the other person to share suggestions with you, even though they might not necessarily make sense to you at first. The best solutions are not always the most obvious ones. Try to be flexible in your thinking and open to the other person's suggestions and listen to the reasons behind the suggestions. A teacher may suggest a particular approach, for example, because that intervention has been effective with other students in the past.

Step 6: Remain Positive   We understand that meetings can be stressful. A good deal of time may be spent on discussing a child's problems, how he misbehaves, how he does not understand class work or homework, and so on. At times like these, it is not uncommon for both parents and teachers to feel somewhat defensive or to feel that they should have been able to solve the problem on their own. But sometimes it takes two. It is extremely important to try to remain positive and work together. In order to come up with the best solutions to a child's problems, parents and teachers need to discuss the problems in detail. Although such discussions may be difficult, they are necessary in order to develop interventions that can be implemented consistently in the classroom and at home. With the right interventions, most children will improve, although it may take a while. Stay positive, work collaboratively, and think about how all of this time and effort will ultimately benefit the child.

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