Creating and Maintaining a Successful Educator/Parent Team

  • by Cindy Jones
  • Feb. 7, 2021, 4:46 p.m.

Sometimes when working with the parents of your students, things can get tense. I would like to offer some tips that have helped me throughout my years in education as a general and special education teacher, consultant, and administrator.

Our goal is to get the parent to work side-by-side with us in solving the problem.

Conferencing with a Parent

When conferencing with a parent (whether it is an IEP meeting or a teacher/parent conference) FIRST, say something positive about their child.

I am so glad that you are here. I have wanted to meet with you. I did want to let you know that two of Maria’s teachers have told me that Maria is so kind and helpful to children who are struggling.

Also, when working with frustrated parents, always use a neutral or empathic voice and neutral or calming facial expression.

I use an interaction model called I Know and the Sooner.

In this model, you use empathy and then give a reason why the person would benefit by being cooperative. Empathy is a very powerful strategy.


It seems like you are upset and…

I know this is disappointing and…

Don’t say but or however. Instead, say and.

Then, give a reason why it would benefit them to do what you asked.

The sooner that we talk about this, the sooner we can move forward with creating a plan for Aidan.

Then, put the two together.

I know this is disappointing and the sooner we talk about this, the sooner we can move forward with creating a plan for Aidan.

What a frustrated parent may do:

Tries to have you do all of the work:

I know that this is a big problem. Let’s see what we can both do to make it better.

Tries to manipulate you:

You have mentioned some things that must be very concerning for you. Let’s work together and come up with a plan that might help Tyrone find success. I would love to hear your ideas.

Tries to rush you

Wow! This is going to take some thought. When would be a convenient time for me to call and share with you what I have come up with? Please be thinking about some ideas, too.

Proclaims herself the “Expert”

Recognize and mention their knowledge.

I am so glad that you have so much knowledge in this area. I know that since we both have a lot of expertise, we can come up with a great plan to help Adam. I think that we will be a great team working for your son.

Here are other tips to use when meetings are getting tense.

Agree and give an “add-on”.

Thanks for that idea. Let’s add it to our list and see what other things we can think of. I will make sure that we get back to it before our meeting is over.

Do not say “No” automatically, and do not say “Yes”, when you need to say “No”.

Yes, we can do that. Here is what we both would need to do to make it happen.

Working with parents is an integral part of teaching. These strategies have really strengthened my success in building and maintaining parent/educator relationships.

Goal: Get the parent to work side-by-side with you in solving the problem.