Category Archives: Parents
Welcome to September, which means slightly cooler weather, Johnny Appleseed, visits to the apple orchard, and amazing apple pies. For those of us who work in schools September also presents one of the most anticipated weeks of the school year: Parent-Teacher Conferences. It is well known that many parents and teachers communicate more consistently through e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook but the individual one on on conference is a sacred time in our year. Here are a few tips to help navigate your parent teacher conference, and help you leave feeling like you know everything about your child at school.
Be Prepared to Listen
Although fall conferences happen within the first quarter of the school year, your child’s teacher has gathered a lot of information and wants to share it with you. Teachers will share important progress indicators, these are usually not grades, to help you paint the picture of where your child stands within the same age and grade peer group. LISTEN! The progress indicators shared are many times more important than an actual grade. Take note to the expected performance for this time of year and where your child is performing. This is the type of data teachers use consistently to make decisions about learning experiences in the classroom. Sure, grades are important; however, unless you really understand what the grade represents there is little difference between an A or C. Many teachers will also share their insight on how your child is growing socially in the context of school.
Be Prepared to Ask Questions
You are going to have questions, and your teacher wants to answer them. Most often we hear parents report they feel like there is never enough time to ask their questions. My son’s teacher sent home a request for questions prior to the conference so she can ensure there is enough time to talk about what is important to us. If you have specific questions, communicate them prior to the conference. This is a big tip – a teacher can tailor the conference to your needs if there is information you want to discuss. You can do this via e-mail, voicemail, or write a note. In our school we have 15 minutes per conference, and I know that isn’t adequate time. I plan to prioritize the questions I have to make sure we have an opportunity to talk about my biggest questions. The rest can follow up in an e-mail, a follow up phone call, or an additional time to meet if necessary. Remember, teachers are available to you all year long!
Thank Your Teacher
Being a classroom teacher shouldn’t be thankless job. No matter what your questions or concerns, be thankful. Showing genuine gratitude for the work teachers do every day should never taken for granted. A simple, “Thank you for all you do!” means so much to a teacher. They definitely deserve it!
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you prevented a child from failing to protect them from feelings of disappointment? You aren’t alone! As a parent I’ve made the mistake of protecting both of my children from failure. As an elementary school administrator, I observe parents swooping in to save the day often. In this post, I will challenge our thinking to realize protecting our kids from disappointment, adversity, or failure is not a form of love. According to Foster Cline and Jim Fay, the authors of Parenting with Love and Logic, many parents confuse love, protection, and caring.
The truth is, caring for our children doesn’t imply we protect them from every potential mistake they’ll ever make. Cline and Fay state that parents who do over protect in an unhealthy way do it more for themselves out of their own selfish needs. Do you agree? If Sarah forgets her lunchbox, is it the end of the world if she has to choose a school lunch as a natural consequence? What lessons are we teaching her about being responsible if you leave work because we are so close to the school and rescue Sarah from the natural consequence of her actions? Why does a worried mom or dad feel responsible for Sarah’s forgetfulness? If Joey forgets his project that is due for math class, but forgets it on the kitchen table after working on the final touches after breakfast, should you take it to him? The answer is no. If children, from a young age, are taught to address and effectively handle their emotions when a disappointment happens then they are more likely to become resilient and responsible young adults. Most research says that children at the age of 9 months old begin learning the difference between right and wrong, yes and no, and the feelings associated with both. Let’s face it, our children will certainly face disappointment, adversity, and even failure.
When our children encounter situations of disappointment, adversity, or failure, it is more about how we respond as adults. If we swoop in and save the day when their is a potential for disappointment, we starve our kids from the experience they need to practice resiliency. One of the most important things we as parents and teachers can teach our children is that failure is not embarrassing, nor does it bring shame to them, their classroom, school, or family. Meeting children with empathy, love, and support during this time is more important. I’ve found many great resources online and in print that help our children turn mistakes into opportunities! Our children need to believe they are amazing beyond their performance in that game or the grade they received on that project because responsible children feel good about themselves. A caution to all of us, children learn to feel love and acceptance from the caring adults in their lives. Let’s make sure the only way our children don’t receive love is when they are doing well. It is equally important to share our love in tough times.
If you’d like more resources on Parenting with Love and Logic or helping children respond to failure, click the links below:
We are off to a great start this school year, and after three days we’ve handled our share of conflict. Inevitably, conflict will arise in our school community. Let’s face it, not everyone will be happy with every decision made by teachers or principals. In this post, we’ll discuss a few key ideas for managing conflict to yield the best results for all involved. For our purposes as a school community we will use the following definition of conflict. Conflict is a form of friction, disagreement, or discord arising within a group or by an individual. While there are many types of conflict, we’ll use that definition as the one to describe most the conflict we see in schools.
Identify the Root of Your Conflict
The first key idea to successful conflict resolution sounds simple; however, many times it is not. Over time every student, parent, or teacher has interactions with others that may feed future conflict. Unresolved conflict from the past will compound the current issues. Before attempting to communicate with the other party, first identify the conflict without allowing the past to impact the current situation. I remember my mom teaching me from a very young age that it was better to handle one situation, or conflict, at a time because if you don’t you’ll only be more emotional when you finally decide to deal with it.
Remove the Emotion
Too many times I have observed adults allow their emotions to be the driving force in communication as they attempt to resolve conflict. If given the opportunity, children respond in this way as well. The second key idea to successful conflict resolution is to get your emotions in check. Whether the situation has made you angry or sad, heightened emotion will only decrease your ability to decide which are the right questions to ask. Only by asking the right questions will you get the information you need in order to move to the next key idea, which is listening to understand.
Listening to Understand
Ok, let’s be honest. This one is really difficult. It may be the most difficult of our key ideas to implement in the process of conflict resolution. Remember, if we’ve made it to this key idea we have identified our issue and removed the emotion we feel in order to ask the right questions. We have a strategy to teach this in schools, and I have included it below. Using I statements, children begin to process their emotions and communicate what it is they want and need from those around them. As adults, we need to ask questions in order to seek answers. Remember, though, that even if we ask the right questions it is for the sole purpose of listening to the answers. Many adults, myself included, are guilty of listening to respond in order to get what they want. Truly listening, especially when we are in conflict, is essential to be able to determine if there are ways to negotiate a solution.
Click below for a strategy for helping children with conflict resolution:
Negotiate a Solution
By the time we make it to this key idea, both parties clearly understand the conflict. It is likely both sides understand the position of the other, and a mutual solution may be clear to all. If there isn’t a clear solution at this time, the conversation may have revealed fundamental differences in your position. If this is the case, it is important to find a win-win compromise when possible.
Will there be times during our school year where you feel as if our concerns weren’t heard? It is our goal to say, “No!” Remember, there are a few principles present in our approach to resolving conflict: be calm, be patient, and have respect. Many times resolving conflict is more about the approach taken than the solution, because when both sides of conflict seek to understand each other many times that mutually agreed solution becomes crystal clear!