“Parents love their children more than children love their parents.” Medieval Proposition
Just because kids say their parents don’t care does not make it true. I have yet to see a parent who does not care. I have seen frustrated and overworked parents. But uncaring parents… not yet.
I have not been at all satisfied with the amount of parents that come to open school night. However, I have learned that some cultures believe that the schools are all knowing and that parents trust us implicitly to care for and educate their children while they are in school. Does your school welcome parents? Do you attend PTA meetings? Consider Parent Involvement in your school. They can be your greatest allies.
Be truthful when speaking with parents but be professional. Log all phone calls listing the date and time you called or emailed and list the name of the person with whom you spoke.
There are several ways to tell a parent bad news.
1. If a student is misbehaving, I always call the parent in the child’s presence. I make the student dial the phone and ask for the parent. This way the parent doesn’t think that the child is injured and the school is calling for serious news. I also want the child there because I ALWAYS ask the student if I have said anything that is not accurate. Many students “stretch the truth” if the parent receives a phone call or email, so discussing the issue with the parent and the child at the same time precludes the chance of the child’s denying my information at a later time.
2. Use what I call, “professional synonyms”. Others call these euphemisms.
Instead of saying, “Hi, Mrs. Jones, your son is a lying cheater. He copied off someone else’s paper during a test. I can never trust him again.” You could say, “Hello Mrs. Jones, I am sorry to have to bother you with this, but your son has left me no alternative. He copied answers from another student’s test paper today. I feel that if he spent more time studying, he wouldn’t have to rely on the answers of others. I would like to suggest that you talk to him about being better prepared for tests. If there is any way you think I could be of help please feel free to contact me.”
I then tell the student that I am deeply disappointed that he cheated. I do not respect that and I really expect more from him. If he does study and performs well on the next test, be sure to let the parent know. If you really want to throw parents for a loop, call them with good news. I am fairly certain that less than 5% of parent phone calls are positive. It might be time consuming, but it is invaluable.