1. Verbal & Non Verbal Communication: Your verbal and non-verbal communication can signal your demeanor and willingness to establish a strong relationship between school and home:
a. Brainstorm a list of verbal and non-verbal communication techniques you should use during your conference.
b. Read a short article by Andrew Taylor, “A Teacher’s Guide to Talking With Parents”, which can be downloaded from A-Teachers-Guide-To – Maru-a-Pula School
c. What are the tips Taylor mentioned? Are there barriers to implementing these tips? Can you think of other strategies?
2. Listening and speaking skills: Consider using the LAFF Don’t Cry model in your meeting. This model, developed by McNaughton, Hamlin, McCarthy, Head-Reeves, & Schreiner (2008), uses a mnemonic phrase to remind educators on the effectiveness of key listening and speaking skills:
- Listen, empathize, and communicate respect,
- Ask questions,
- Focus on the issues,
- Find a first step,
- Don’t Criticize people who aren’t present,
- Donʻt React hastily and promise something you can’t deliver,
- Donʻt Yakety-yak-yak
*Note: Please go to the resources section for links and info about the full article.
3. Communication with parents whose native language is not English: It is important to prepare strategies to communicate with parents/family members whose native language is not English. Brainstorm a list by yourself or with a classmate/colleague. Here is a list of possible strategies:
- Ask parents if they would like an interpreter. Always arrange for an interpreter when parents/family members express a need for one, and do not schedule for one to be there if the parents have not asked for one, as they might feel uncomfortable.
- When needed, send a translated letter home in advance explaining the procedures and purposes of the parent-teacher conference,
- Learn a basic greeting or welcome in the parents’ native language and display the home languages and cultures in your class along with student work samples.
- Provide a handout outlining the procedures of the conference with a space for taking notes. Consider using a graphic organizer and visuals to make your handout accessible to parents and family members.
- Have visual materials available during the conference that can be referred to in addition to oral explanations.
- Allow sufficient time for questions, clarifications, and explanations by the parent/family member and/or the interpreter.