Parents appreciate timely contact.
Parents are almost always open to ideas to help their kids.
Here are four things to accomplish during a parent contact that cut through teacher fear and parent disappointment and get things done.
#1 – Develop the Relationship
It’s not all about getting to the punch line of “Your kid isn’t cutting it.” This is likely not the last parent contact you will make to this parent, so take a minute. A quick way to do this is to ask the parent, “Is this a good time to talk?” It communicates a recognition that there is a person on the other end of the line that has a life. This simple question is a nice touch.
#2 – Learn About the Student’s Context
During the conversation fold in a question about what the parent is seeing at home.
“Is Calvin working on homework at home?”
“What is Shannon telling you about her day?”
“What other responsibilities does Matt have outside of school?”
This is great information to know.
#3 – Communicate Expectation
Let the parent know about the goal. What are you asking the parent to partner with you about? Put it in a container that parent can hold. Be very clear and support your expectations with specific examples of what the student is doing and what you are asking the student to do.
#4 – Agree on Actions
Don’t hang up the phone without something to measure. Too many parent contacts dispense information. Parents hang up the phone and feel dumped upon once again and likely not very motivated to do a whole lot more. “Same song all over again,” they might be thinking.
Getting to an agreement on a small task gives direction and also makes a deposit for future conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask for actions at home and offer up the buffet for what the school can do as well.
These steps don’t have a specific order. The conversation should be concise and guided mostly by the teacher. Hitting these four points can move things forward for a freshman and create a foundation for future conversations.