Thursday, September 6, 2012

Parent Conferences and Freebie

Picture this:  I’m sitting waiting for a set of parents to come in for our first conference.  I’ve got butterflies in my stomach. I really like these parents, I really like their child… but he struggles with his behavior.  I know I have to address this with them.  I know he really WANTS to do well.  I know he cares.  How do you have this kind of conversation with parents?  What I have to say is hard for anyone to hear.

So the parents walk in and to my surprise, they seem more nervous than I am.  I try to put on that happy face and I begin.  Before I can even start, I notice tears in the mom’s eyes.  “What’s going on?”, I ask.  Mom breaks into tears and begins to talk about how hard they try to help their child with his challenges.  They sound discouraged, they are clearly worried that I will lose patience with their child, they are afraid I don’t like him.  

What these parents need is some reassurance, understanding, and support.  They need to hear how much I like their child.  They need to see his strengths through my eyes. 
BIG- AHA moment for me!  All parents need to hear these things. 
They need to know that I see their children’s strengths and gifts. They need to know I like their children.  They need to develop trust in my ability to be understanding and patient with their children.  

Wouldn’t it be a great bridge if you opened a parent conference by telling the parents a few of the traits you see and honor in their child?  It would make any ensuing conversation more comfortable.   It would help put parents at ease.  Believe it or not, many parents enter those conference doors with butterflies in their stomachs too.  But most important, it would convey acceptance and understanding of their children.

I have created a “certificate of liking” to kick off your parent conferences.  Use it with full confidence knowing that you’ll be building a communication bridge to help you partner with parents, to reassure them, and to develop trust. What more can anyone ask for from a first parent conference?  

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  1. Thanks so much for this! It's a great reminder that every child is someone's "baby". Parents just want to know that their child is honored and appreciated for their personal strengths!

  2. Thank you for sharing this at TBA and linking up! I'm your newest follower, I love your blog design!
    Fern Smith’s Classroom Ideas!
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  3. SO TRUE!! Thank for sharing! Smiles and stop by anytime!

  4. Hi - I wanted to get your copy of the conference form, but I get an error saying I don't have permission to get the document. Thanks for the idea, though!

  5. So sorry for the problem. I believe that it is now corrected. You should now be able to get a copy straight from this blog. If you have any problems, please email me and I'll return the email with the file as an attachment.


  6. I love this. I will absolutely be using it. Last year I struggled to stay positive with my tough group, but I managed, and I'm hoping to start off on that foot this year. Thank you - great idea!
    - Amanda
    Inspired in Second

  7. I love your silly goose craftivity! Too bad my school year already started, but I would love a copy to add to my files for next year!! Also, I am your newest follower. Thanks so much!!

  8. I just love these "Three Things I've Noticed..." papers that you created. I have an especially low group of kids this year and I know those parents are going to dread our conference. So, I am going to surprise every parent with one of these sheets when we meet. I know they will appreciate it and plus it helped me to really focus more on the strengths rather than just weaknesses. Plus I am a grandma of a first grader who isn't always the best doobie. The teacher called my daughter today and she was crying, "I must be the worst mother in the world!" I wish Mrs. M. had seen these. THANK YOU!

  9. I am so touched by your note. Those phone calls from the teacher are so hard on the parents. I try to remind parents that if they stay consistent, stay loving and supportive, and stay confident in their parenting skills, everything will turn out fine in the end.

    I like to remind parents that some children just need to "grow into themselves". Some people are just better at being adults than at being children.

    Don't you just wish your daughter knew what we know (as more mature teachers and parents): Children's behavior is not always a reflection on parenting skills. It's often just about who a child is.

    The greatest gift we can give all children is to learn how to walk that fine line between setting limits and accepting and appreciating children for who they are.

  10. This is so cute! I have some challlenging friends this year in my class, but thank goodness at least one of them always has an extra hug they want to give me, tell me they love me, tell me I'm the best, or just say something completely off the wall that cracks me up right before I am at my wits end!
    I have 15 month old twin girls and they have been "helping" daddy read books since they first started babbling. My comment to my husband the first time he read to them and they babbled over his reading was that we were going to be hearing from their first teacher that they like to talk! It really makes me more aware that each one of my kiddos in my class has parents who see them as their whole world and that I need to look at those kiddos through their parent's eyes when I am frustrated!

  11. I, too have had those times when I struggle to think of positive traits in some of my most challenging students. This makes so much sense and I especially like the part where you say that parents just want us to see the strengths of their child that they see. Thanks for this!

  12. Thanks for sharing! This is a great freebie! Love the positivity!