If you teach dance, chances are good that you will have to speak with a disgruntled parent sooner or later. The good news is that there are ways to handle this type of situation smoothly. Here are a few tips that can be helpful:
+ Avoid using language that sounds like an accusation. When you say something like, “What is it that you are so upset about?” it sounds harsh. Try framing things differently by saying, “I understand you are upset–how can I help?” How you say things matters just as much as what you are trying to communicate. Try not to make the parent feel defensive about raising a concern.
+ Stress that you are on the same side. Ultimately, the parent and teacher should both have the same goal–to help the student. When approaching a problem with a parent, point out that you can work together to solve the issue at hand. A team approach makes everyone feel like they have a part to play in the student’s success; which indeed, they do.
+ Listen carefully. What is the real issue the parent is bringing up? Try to hear them out completely before offering any input. That way they will feel that you are taking them seriously, and you will be sure to get all the details before answering.
+ Know when you can’t help. No matter what, there will sometimes be a parent you cannot satisfy, or a problem that you can’t do anything about. Hopefully these situations will be few and far between, but if you wind up facing something you can’t fix, you may have to just tell the parent it is out of your hands.
Do you have any good strategies for communicating with parents? A tidbit to share with your fellow teachers? If so, please share!