Addressing concerns about student behavior can be difficult and awkward. But don’t let the anxiety of bringing up a problem keep you from finding a solution.
Set aside a time to talk
Sometimes it might not be possible to chat after a lesson, or your concerns are large enough that they warrant an extra meeting. Give yourself enough time to thoroughly discuss the problem and strategize solutions with parents.
Begin on a positive note
Starting the conversation with something great their child did is an easy way to help calm both you and parents. For example,
“Ben is really enthusiastic about the piano! He was so excited to show me the scale he practiced this weekend.”
You’ll want to be upfront about the problem, but starting off with something good can help mitigate any negative feelings.
Language is important
Framing the conversation in an open and empathetic manner is key. You don’t want parents to feel like you’re placing blame on them for their child’s behavior. Most likely, they will already feel guilty and responsible for any issues, so showing them that you are on their side is very beneficial.
- Use “I Statements” to make observations. Ex: I notice…, I feel…, My concern is…
This puts the emphasis on the behavior and not the child.
- Allow parents to express their feelings by asking questions that help you gather more information. Ex: Tell me more about…, Is this something you all have dealt with in the past…
Collaborate and Follow-Up
Teachers and parents are strongest when working together, although some parents may feel that the teacher should have all of the answers, or vise versa! Encourage parents to suggest solutions, and don’t be shy to share how you’ve managed similar issues before.
- Create a game plan. For example, if a child becomes easily distracted, both the parents and teacher can clear the room of any electronics, games, or other toys that might hinder the learning environment for the duration of the lesson.
- Check in. Take note of how well the plan worked during the lesson and make sure to follow-up with the parent that day.
- Continue or re-address. If your plan worked, awesome! If not, regroup and come up with another strategy together.
For more information about talking to parents, click here.