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The Secret To Positive Parent Interactions

By Detra Davis

It is not a secret that parents are sometimes not the easiest people to get along with or understand. They come in all shapes and sizes, all races and cultures. So is there any wonder why teachers and parents sometimes hit a bump as they together travel down the proverbial path called education. Everyone involved in the educational process must be reminded that each is looking at their concerns from a different vantage point and although neither is wrong, they are often different.

Teachers know the dynamics of education, educating, child development and working with children. Parents know the dynamics of love, compassion, advocating for their child and protection. Where is the happy median? The happy median lies in educating one another.

There has long been a need for parents to understand how to "do school. It's really like the old adage about raising children"if only they came with an instruction booklet. Remember parents don't get an instruction booklet on how to understand the dynamics of educating their children either. They are often caught up in earning a living or just surviving from day to day. This is no excuse but remember there are three sides to every vision; the teacher's side, the parent's side and the truth.

If it is the goal of the teacher and school district to truly commit to positive interactions then educating parents should be a primary goal. Educators are serving the public and the public can be a challenge, but offer your services without a sense of attitude and remember your best is good enough.

Teachers will never be able to please every parent and parents will never be able to please every teacher. Both parents and teachers must begin their communication effort with mutual respect and an open ear; and follow these tips to develop and maintain positive parent interactions:

- Before a situation escalates, move quickly to let parents know of the issue. Make a phone call, email, fax, just get the information to the parent immediately.

- Listen to your parents and don't be quick to judge. The more you listen, the more you learn. My advice is so eloquently conveyed in this little poem. "There once was an old owl who lived in an oak, the more she heard, the less she spoke, the less she spoke the more she heard, so why not be like that wise old bird."

- You must always act in a respectful, responsible and tactful manner. Anger is not an option.

- Disagreement comes about because of the inability to communicate clearly and effectively. Say what you mean, don't beat around the bush.

- Avoid being negative and fault finding. Encourage and motivate in a good way

- Do not react to anger. Less is more, end the conversation or take a break and never meet with an angry parent alone.

- An aggravated parent who protest your every comment is often masking another issue and may in fact be frustrated by the issue or their child's inability to achieve

- Don't throw your hands up in disgust, have problem-solving strategies ready to present to parents.

- Choose your words carefully and refrain from saying the first thing that comes to mind.

Organization is the key to addressing both academic and behavioral concerns. Always have your grade book, the student's portfolio and any notes taken about behavioral concerns. If attendance is a problem, have solutions ready that might remedy the issue. It is import to exhibit compassion and empathy when talking to parents and know that this too shall pass.

Parents want the best for their child and they often verbalize it in the most inappropriate manner; don't take what parents say personally, know that a lot of what is said is based on emotion and frustration. Remember at the beginning of the school year put all your cards on the table and give parents as much information as possible about your expectations so there will be few surprises once the school years begins.

About The Author
Detra D. Davis is a certified Parent Educator with the North Carolina Parent Network and has been a writer for over 25 years.

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