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Parent-teacher conference: connecting with a reluctant parent

Date: April 22nd, 2014
By: Polly Bath

Watch this video [2:04] to learn how I started to build a positive relationship with a reluctant parent in a parent-teacher conference, by putting the relationship first.

Did you ever notice that the parents that you need to see the most during parent‑teacher conference night, are the ones that never show up? Consider this—most of the parents that we need to see may have had a difficult time in school themselves. If school wasn’t pleasant, and maybe they weren’t doing well, or they got into trouble a lot, they will remember that. And that’s the last school experience they have—their own childhood.

So why would they want to come in and talk with us if they’re going to potentially hear things about their child that are not necessarily positive?

After years of working with some very difficult kids and families, I’ve learned that it’s all about relationship building. We talk about relationship building in the classroom with the child, but what about relationship building with the parent?

I once had a parent come in to a parent‑teacher conference and we talked about car racing all night. We talked about NASCAR, and how exciting it was, and how they were really into that. I had to find out something that they were into, and we had that conversation during our entire conference period. We never did talk about the child and the child’s difficulty in performance that night, though there was one thing that I got that really mattered later on.

Most of all, I had left a very positive message when they walked out of the classroom and out of the school building. Whenever they came in, first we updated the latest statistics on NASCAR racing. And then we opened a window of opportunity to talk about their child.