By Jim Fay
There was a problem on the playground during recess today. Even though it involved only some of the classmates, the entire class was punished with loss of recess for two days. Patty and Wanda were incensed.
“Most of us were being good! It’s just not fair for all of us to miss recess,” they told their mothers. “You need to call the teacher and make her change her mind,” they insisted.
Wanda’s mother went to the phone, and when the teacher answered said, “Punishing all the kids for what a few of them did just doesn’t make sense. You just need to handle this in a better way. Both Wanda and I think that this is totally unfair!”
Patty’s mother called the teacher and said, “I’d like to share what the girls have told me about the recess problem and get your thoughts on it.”
I visited with this teacher. She told me that Wanda’s mother called first and that she immediately found herself being defensive about the situation. The call didn’t go well. The conversation she had with Patty’s mom went better.
She went on to say, “I didn’t feel defensive at all when Patty’s mom called. I liked her opening statement so well that I’m going to be using it in the future when I have to call parents about a problem.”
What was that opening statement? “I’d like to share what I’ve been hearing and get your thoughts.” It’s a surefire way to keep the other person from feeling attacked.
Learn more of these techniques on our Audio CD, Putting Parents at Ease. It’s all about home/school communication techniques that work for both teachers and parents.