No doubt some, if not many of those around me, could grow tired of my relentless focus on presuming positive intent. As many of us prepare for connecting with parents next week, sharing the learning and goals of our students with them, and partnering to further their progress for the next quarter, the Harvard Family Research Project (October 2010) outlines key elements that we, as educators must include in our conversation. Notice what tops the list!
Keep these principles in mind for a great parent–teacher conference:
- Best intentions assumed
- Emphasis on learning
- Home–school collaboration
- Examples and evidence
- Active listening
- Respect for all
- Dedication to follow-up
For a detailed report of Harvard’s research study, check out their Parent-Teacher Conference Tip Sheets for principals, teachers and parents. I find it interesting that in the above acronym, “Best intentions assumed” is named first. Is it coincidental that this is so near and dear to my heart? What might other lead with reminding us to keep in mind during the important opportunities to dialogue? In an Edutopia post, Elena Aguilar shares her Tips for Parent-Teacher Conference, and leading the list, “Approach Parents with Positive Assumptions”. Not only is it the right thing to do, it feels good!
May your conference begin with Positive Intent, focus on celebrations and goals to grow through clear examples and evidence, and prove your dedication through effort and follow-up. As Aguilar concludes and my hope for each of us is to never “underestimate the power of the positive, and lead with it. Be specific in the positive data you share — tell an anecdote or show a piece of work. Make sure you truly feel this positivity. We can all sniff out empty praise. There is always, always something positive and praise-worthy about every single child. It’s your job to find it and share that data with parents.” And, for a bit of humor, check out the following…