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Recently I presented a training on parent engagement and crucial conversations for the staff at a local school.  You might wonder why a school would be interested.  It was a school that already delivers a great academic program with lots of dedicated teachers.  The involvement of parents is outstanding with a stellar number of parent volunteer hours.  

However, for most teachers, interaction with parents is the most challenging aspect of their job.  They know what to do for and with students, after all, that is what they spent four years in college learning.  No one taught them about the parent piece.  

How do you establish a positive relationship from day one?

How do you encourage quality engagement?  

How do you handle those crucial conversations when opinions differ, emotions escalate and stakes are high?

Here is the secret sauce:

Let them know you care.  

What does that look like?  Here are three tips:

Focus on what you really want out of the conversation Too often we allow ourselves to get lost in the details and lose sight of the bigger picture.  Take some time before you even enter the room to get centered and clear on what you really want to accomplish in the conversation. Then clarify with the other participants what the overall goal is.  Keep that front and center throughout the time together.  

Avoid the need to be right– Ask yourself, do you want to make a point or do you want to a difference?  Getting someone to agree with your point of view in a high stakes situation is not always possible.  However, finding a middle ground and determining a plan of action for moving forward is– even when parties disagree.  Be willing to listen without judging and look for ways to help others not convince others.  

Avoid either/or solutions– Instead, investigate solutions that use ‘and’.  Look for ways to combine the wants and desires of all involved.  Is there a way to accommodate both parties’ ideas?  Avoid rigid mindsets and be open to new and creative possibilities.  

Know a business or school that could benefit from a similar training program? Let’s talk.  Sign up for a clarity call to determine if my program would be a good fit.  https://bookme.name/dreamachiever

Lynne Watts brings excitement and energy into the room as a motivational and engaging speaker. She brings a focus on intentional living that sets the tone for participants to look within themselves to reflect and learn from. She has a relevant perspective to familiar topics. Her engagement with participants is sincere and authentic and, along with her friendly, relaxed manner enables participants to listen and learn easily. Her life experiences are meaningful to the audience and provide a candid look into self for how to make better self-choices and how to be a better team in the workplace. 

~D’Anna Liber DFACS Supervisor, Gwinnett County, Georgia

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Comment by Lynne Watts on August 13, 2017 at 5:28pm

thanks Ann.  As a school counselor for 20 years, I mediated a lot of conferences.  It's not easy but getting some training definitely can help.  Best wishes to your daughter.  She is entering a very worthwhile and meaningful career field.  

Comment by Ann Musico on August 13, 2017 at 11:09am

Lynne wonderful tips for creating a truly open conversation between teachers and parents. My daughter is finishing up her certification for elementary and special ed and in the meantime tutors 4 children. One family has asked her to accompany them to parent teacher conferences because they don't speak English well and trust she knows their child (she's tutored him for 3 years now) and has his best interests at heart. While she feels she is limited in what she can say in these meetings since she is not a parent or his teacher - she's learned from watching the interactions that what you have shared is very true.

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