As teachers, it is inevitable that at some stage we will need to meet with parents to discuss a concern we have about a child's progress or their behaviour. These meetings often induce a great deal of anxiety in a teacher, even before the meeting has taken place. It can be hard to share this type of news with a parent but as teachers it is important that we address our concerns.
Where to start:
1. Gather some data!
This may be in the form of work samples, a behaviour log, anecdotal notes. Once you have this information spend some time with the data.
What are your concerns? Be specific.
What is the data telling you about the student in question?
How does this impact the student - academically, socially, emotionally, mentally?
2. Devise a plan.
Before you sit down with a parent to discuss a concern it is always best to have a plan for moving forward, one that will help to support the student. Sitting before a parent and listing your concerns without offering some suggestions or solutions is never constructive.
What strategies can be implemented within the classroom to assist the student?
Have you had a student with similar needs/behaviours before? How did you support them?
What can parents do at home to support their child?
3. Share with a colleague.
Sit down and discuss your concerns and how you propose to support the student. Present your colleague with the data you have collected and discuss your thoughts and ideas. Be open to suggestions! You may go into this discussion with a great deal of data but you are unsure of the where to next. This is where talking to a colleague can help.
What does your colleague make of this data?
Have they had a student like this before? How did they support them?
Does your colleague have any further insights or suggestions?
4. Make the appointment.
It is always best to follow school protocols when contacting parents. Get the OK for any email or letter you wish to send home. Remember to outline the reason for the meeting. This doesn't need to be lengthy but it should give the parent/s enough information so that they are aware of what is going to be discussed. Not doing this can unduly worry parents. Always follow this up with a positive statement. For example: I would like to meet with you to discuss Sally's progress in English and outline the strategies that are being used to support her learning.
5. The Meeting
It is always best to be prepared. Have the data you have collected with you and some discussion points written down. If you feel the meeting may be challenging, have a colleague sit in. Be confident in what you say and allow the parents to contribute to the discussion. Provide the parents with any materials or resources that you feel will support them in assisting their child. Takes notes. Organise a follow up meeting, if necessary.