You have a misbehaving student in your class. You are meeting with the parents as part of a parent-teacher conference. This is your opportunity to address your concerns, and you want to make sure you communicate those concerns to the parents in a productive manner. What can you do?

1. Linsin (2011) suggests the following tips.

  • Be friendly throughout the conversation.
  • Inform parents exactly what happened. Only share your comments and suggestions when parents ask for them.
  • Be aware of your tone in the conversation. Do not take misbehaviors personally.
  • Explain clearly how you are going to handle this misbehavior.
  • Keep the conversation with parents brief.

2. After reading the tips, think about which tips you agree and disagree with and why.

3. Think of a misbehaving child in your class. Come up with some topics that you would like to discuss with his/her parent/guardian. Practice expressing your concerns with a peer/colleague and ask for feedback on the content of what you are saying but also how you express it. If you will be talking in person with the parent/guardian, also ask your peer for feedback on your body language.

4. If you would like more information about this topic, please see Robert D. Ramsey’s book, “How to say the right thing every time: communicating well with students, staff, parents, and the public (2nd edition, 2008)” and refer to chapter 3: “How to say the right things to parents.”