All teachers at some point in their career face a time when parents are frustrated with them. Especially parents complaining about grades are difficult to handle as you don’t know how to respond without getting them angrier in a way that both you and parents can feel good about it. The moment you hand the report cards to them, the questions start rolling in. If the child has good grades, they will be asking how to keep it that way, and in case of bad grades, they’ll be asking what happened and why their child has the grades he/she have.
Today, I’ll show you how to talk to the parents and answer some of the toughest questions that are sure to come up when they receive the report card. I’ll particularly focus on how to handle angry parents of a student who is not doing so well in class because those parents come up with the most difficult to handle questions and often not with the best attitude. Here are my tips to deal with the tricky encounter.
1. Remember They’re Mad at The Situation Not at You
Despite how parents approach you, try to understand them on a deeper level by putting yourself in their shows. In most cases, they get angry not because you have done anything wrong but because of their unmet expectations or misunderstanding. So, always keep that in mind that they are not angry at you but at the situation and their child who is not meeting their expectations
2. Be Proactive
Communication before the report card comes out is the key. Never make them feel blindsided and let them get mentally prepared for the undesirable results. Communicate with them in whatever way they feel comfortable with. Some of the parents don’t like receiving phone calls and prefer a text message or email while others would love to hear from you via phone call or even personally.
3. Keep a Record of All Communication
Keep a written record of all communication with parents as it may come in handy on several occasions. Even if you make a phone call, you can still have a record that the communication happened. You can email parents a summary of the conversation to generate a written record of the conversation.
4. Nothing in The Report Card Should Be Shock to The Parents
If you’ve been communicating with parents throughout the semester then they should have a good idea of how their child has been doing in class so when they open up the report card, they won’t be shocked by the results. However, in some cases, despite doing all that parents still get upset with you. Here are some tips to deescalate the situation:
· Be Calm and Listen to Their Concerns
Most of the time parents just want to be heard so your first step is to just listen and let them talk as long as they need to. Don’t interrupt and respond only after they have gotten everything off their chest. Doing so will help you ease out the tension and deal with the matter without making a big issue out of it.
· Empathize with Them
Remember that you’re trying to deescalate the situation so when it’s your turn to talk, validate the parent’s feelings by telling them that you understand their concerns and why they’re upset. Tell them that you understand their concerns and feelings and you would feel the same if you were in their place. You’ll instantly feel a difference in their behavior as soon as you say those words.
· Ask Some Clarifying Questions
After acknowledging their concerns, try to ask some clarifying questions. You should be able to restate by using some of the keywords they used in their conversation to ask clarifying questions and acknowledge what their concerns were. Ask something like, “You said earlier that Thomas studies really hard at home and you have no idea why his grades are so low. He’s really bright student and does so well when he’s sitting right there with me. When you work with him at home, are you sitting right there with him?”
· Give Them a Slight Dose of Reality
Try to give parents some slight dose of reality by politely making them understand your perspective as well but quickly follow it up with your plan of how you’re going to help the child. It might sound something like this, “You know it’s impossible for me to work with him one-on-one basis all day as you can at home, but what I can do is work with him within small groups. Do you have few minutes so we can discuss it further?
· Give Them Tangible Solution for The Problem
Lastly, give parents some realistic and tangible solutions that you can actually implement in your classroom. Give them options that put some of the accountability back to them like what they can do at home to help their child at home. Type up your plan and have them sign and date it to use it as an academic or behavioral plan. Parents are most likely to leave you alone once they are content with your efforts.
· Thank Them
Before ending the conversation, thank them for coming to you and ask them to contact you if they have any more questions or concerns.