The ability to build strong, trusting relationships with parents is an integral skill that all teachers want – but not all teachers are able to achieve. However, if you can show mum and dad how hardworking, considerate and capable you are, not only will you be able to put their mind at ease but it will also allow you to concentrate on what is most important: providing your students with the best education possible.
Whenever problems with parents arise, the way in which you deal with them could either win you respect or exacerbate the situation and make it a full-blown, term-long issue. It might not be a simple or easy task, but to reduce unnecessary politics and friction you must learn to communicate effectively.
Here are three quick questions to ask yourself whenever you feel a situation with a parent getting out of control:
“What if it were me?”
As you well know, dealing with children can be an exhausting job. If a parent is getting aggravated or is not seeing reason, it might be because they work two jobs, have no support at home and an issue with the school is just another stress they really don’t need. Try to image how they’re feeling. People tend to be quite emotional and protective when it comes to their kids, so tell them you understand. Let them know it’s okay and normal to be worried, but remind them you have their child’s best interests at heart and want to do the right thing for them and their education. Sometimes reassurance and support are all that is needed to stop a situation from getting out of hand.
“Do they know exactly what’s going on?”
Children often behave completely differently at home to how they behave at school. Is the parent aware of this? Do they know what’s going on in the classroom? Has their child kept them in the loop with their daily goings-on? Communication is the most effective way to build trust in parents, so if you feel a student is not telling their mum or dad something important you should feel comfortable stepping in – in an appropriate manner, of course. The student will not feel betrayed if it was the right thing to do and the outcome is a positive one.
“Are you calm?"
Emotions are bound to run high, especially when it comes to the welfare of young people, but it’s your job to be calm and balanced on the outside even if you don’t feel it so much on the inside. You must act as a constant figure of strength in every situation and stay true to your convictions. You may experience parents underestimating your abilities or even completely dismissing your authority altogether, but the only way to combat this is in a civil, composed manner. Remember: irrationality can only be beaten by rationality. Unfortunately, there will always be difficult parents to deal with, no matter how you’ve approached a situation, so remain focused and try to do as much as possible to create a constructive conclusion.
If you would like more advice on building trusting relationships with parents or would like to discover the latest teaching roles at Celsian, contact our consultants today.