In an ideal world, parents, teachers, and administrators are able to communicate clearly, have open lines of dialogue, and work together for the benefit of the student. The parent provides support in all areas at home, while the teacher provides the safe, academic environment in which that child learns. Unfortunately, too often, the situation is just the opposite. While each party individually believes in supporting the student, how that support is provided often leaves the different groups at odds.
Key Conversations and Who’s Having Them
A survey completed by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield surveyed 986 parents and highlighted key insights into the dynamics when it comes to parents and their child in the academic setting. One of the major findings of the study recognized a bit of an ironic notion in how parents handle certain issues. It revealed that while a majority of parents see themselves as far more skilled at dealing with key issues concerning their child, most parents rarely take responsibility for said issues, and they often actually prefer to ‘outsource’ these issues to teachers, anyway.
Let’s explore this a bit further and look at some of the numbers. According to the study, 75% of parents surveyed responded that they felt they had been successful in helping their child navigate common, school-related issues and concerns. These concerns included such issues as academic performance, discipline problems, and social issues, which included bullying.
And yet, at the same time, 3 in 4 parents were found to have overestimated their own effectiveness when it came to helping with those problems. That’s certainly an eye-opening admission.
A Struggle on All Sides
As previously mentioned, it’s remarkably common for parents to rely heavily on the school when it comes to helping their child work through certain issues. And yet, as much as parents rely on the school for support, 35% of the parents surveyed also admitted to having failed to raise key issues regarding their child with either teachers or administrators. This is where the struggle in communication between parents and teachers and administrators becomes an even greater challenge.
Furthermore, 18% of the parents admitted to having tried but failed at interventions with their own child regarding any of the key issues. This begs the question: with so many parents believing themselves to be effective, yet failing to communicate with the school, and even failing with their own interventions, how can the gap between all involved be closed, in order to best provide all around support for the student?
Meeting in the Middle to Support the Student
These conversations aren’t always easy, but they are important and valuable. Three keys to having a healthy, meaningful, and productive conversation with parents starts with three things:
- Remember you have a shared motive, which is helping the child succeed. Remind all parties why they’re really here (hint- it’s not to place blame).
- Defuse any defensiveness, by assuring the other party you’re there for support not criticizing their parenting/teaching. Remain calm, cool, and collected, and come from a place of concern for the students success and welfare.
- Focus on the facts, by providing specific details and facts regarding your concerns, and avoid making it personal. Examples detailing behavior or evidence from the classroom regarding any concerns will keep the conversation productive.
Remember, the best chance for success that a student has comes when parents, teachers, and administrators come from a place of understanding one another and desiring to engage in productive conversation that keeps in mind the best interests of the student.