I’ve had the good fortune of working with many great educators, all of whom I’ve learned from along the way.
One of those teachers is Lucinda, who was our 8th grade team leader my first year teaching. I learned a ton about classroom management and connecting with students from Lucinda, but this tip that I want to share here might just be the most impactful. I’m not sure if she got the idea from someone else, but to me, she gets all the credit.
Parent conferences can be nerve racking for all involved. The parents are probably worried that their parenting may be judged. Students are uncomfortable. And first-year teachers like me are nervous and not sure what to say.
So every single time that we would meet with parents, most often with the student also present, Lucinda would begin by asking one simple question.
Why are we here?
That’s it. An opened ended question, but we were always looking for one specific answer.
The student would usually go on about how they thought we were there to discuss them not doing their homework, or perhaps they were talking too much during class. But that wasn’t the reason.
What we were after, and would ultimately all agree on, is that we were all there, taking the time to have a conference, because we all cared.
We cared about the student and we wanted him/her to be successful.
So the tip is to start each meeting in a manner like this that sets the tone of being productive and positive.
In fact, I try and take this same approach today when working with customers or colleagues. I may not use the same “why are we here?” phrase, but if we can focus on the greater purpose and take a positive step forward, we’re likely to be far more successful.
If you have more tips on parent conferences, consider writing a post (or a tweet, or public facebook status) and sharing it in the comments here. 🙂