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Ten Tips for Making Your Next Visit With Your Child's Teacher a Positive One
~ By Fran Briggs

How productive are today's parent/teacher conferences? Not as productive as they once were; or so it appears. Clashes in the classrooms between parents and teachers have recently been identified as "the new power struggle." In one account, Gref Sarette, a Grade-school music teacher from Lakewood, CO, gave this statement.

"I called the parents on a discipline issue with their daughter... Her father called me a 'total jerk.' Then he said, 'Well, do you want to meet someplace and take care of this man to man?"

In response to the cover story of TIME magazine's, "What Teachers Hate About Parents" (Feb. 21, 2005), The Fran Briggs Companies has constructed a Tip Sheet. It offers guidelines for creating and maintaining healthy and positive partnerships between parents and educators.

Tips for Making Your Next Visit With Your Child's Teacher a Positive Experience

1. Prepare for the Meeting in Advance
Take the time to plan for the meeting in advance. Children exceed expectations when they know that the adults in their lives are in unison about their success. Write down your child's strengths and make a commitment to join forces with the educator on as many issues as you can.

2. Be on Time
Make every effort to be punctual. Being late can make any meeting awkward. And, don't be too early. Your child's teacher may have appointments scheduled before, and after you.

3. You're a Professional, too!
Demonstrate your expertise. As a parent or guardian, you automatically qualify as an expert. When speaking with your child's teacher, demonstrate your own sense of self-respect. You can use a calm voice tone and still speak with authority. Avoid ultimatums and coercive behavior at all costs.

4. Communicate With Compassion
Keep in mind that your child's teacher experiences many of the same stressors of every day life as you do. Share your values with your child's teacher. Don't assume the teacher knows. Educating him can give him the insight needed to understand your views.

5. Dress a Cut Above the Rest
Look sharp! Remember, if you are a parent or guardian; you are a professional. Dress accordingly. There is nothing wrong with "dressing up" for a meeting with your child's teacher. You will never see a child wince with embarrassment because his mother was seen wearing a "power suit" to his school. The proper attire can help you move and speak with confidence.

6. Be Willing to Accept Responsibility
Hold yourself accountable whenever appropriate. Don't play the "blame game." Simply demonstrate a willingness to rectify the problem.

7. Use a Solution-oriented Approach
Bring a list of possible solutions to the table. Use your sharpest negotiation skills, but be flexible. Consider meeting your child's teacher half way.

8. You are a Role Model
Recognize the fact that you are a role model. Your child instinctively and unconsciously, imitates your behaviors, words and actions. Demonstrate the actions and respect you expect from your child, when meeting with his educator.

9. Don't Leave the Table Without Both You and the Teacher Having a Clear Understanding of Expectations
Take good notes! Make sure you have written follow up plan, a list of clear expectations for both of you, and an agreement on "the next step." Not to, is counterproductive. Up to 95% of parents leave a meeting with their child's teacher with absolutely nothing in their hands.

10. No Matter How Awkward the Meeting, Enter and Leave, Honorably
Decide in advance to smile and greet the teacher with a smile/handshake. Then, as you leave, repeat the gesture.


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