Having a meeting with a school about an issue about your child is a hard thing to get right. We want to support our child, but sometimes arriving at school to have a conversation about a perceived issue makes matters worse.
The ABC published an article about this here. There are a number of good points in the article and it is worth reading, but there are a couple of things where I would add to the general advice given:
- The article mentions “Checking out the Story” before having a conversation with the school. This is not necessarily good advice. The nature of people is that they tend to hear a few facts about something and then fill in the rest (usually with the worst case scenario). What they fill in is also assumed by them to be facts. Asking another person about their understanding of events will mean they will tell you the actual facts and also the bits they have filled in (as though they are facts as well). A better approach might be to simply approach the right person in the school in an appropriate manner and assume best intentions. This means we assume the person we are speaking to is trying to do the right thing. By assuming best intentions we are not going to take an aggressive and antagonistic approach. Instead we are assuming that the best actions were taken and we are simply trying to clarify and support what is happening.
- The article suggests not firing off an email to try to resolve an issue. There is merit in this as a general approach, but I would always suggest that an email is sent before a more in-depth in person conversation. The email should include the following:
- A courteous greeting (again assuming best intentions)
- A brief statement about the need for a conversation and a summary of the issue that you need resolved. Including an agenda for the meeting can also be helpful.
The teacher (believe it or not) is often fearful of parent meetings. Parents frequently arrive at the meeting, giving no clue as to what the issue is and give the teacher no opportunity to
prepare. Worse, the teacher will have only a few facts to draw on and they will fill in other facts about the upcoming meeting based on a worst case scenario (again human nature).
This means you are arriving at the meeting with a teacher who has had no opportunity to prepare properly for the meeting and is already defensive because of what their brain has
imagined the meeting will be about. This means the meeting is far less likely to produce a positive result for the parent or the school.
Discussions with schools are covered in depth in our parent course which is being trialled at the moment. If you would like to take part in this trial, please registe. We would certainly welcome your participation and feedback.