Connection Not Perfection with The Ish Girl

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Do you long to connect with your teens on a deeper level? Yearn to be there for them in their life-is-too-big moments? Want to share life lessons with them – without sounding like an afterschool special?
Then you’re in the right place! Join The Ish Girl (aka Amy Kelly) as she uses Young Adult books to tackle important issues facing teens today. Using fiction, Amy will give you parenting tools to broach a variety of hot topics, and lay a foundation of trust and communication with your teen.
From body image to bullying, academic pressure to addiction, learn to build bridges using the stories your teen is already reading.

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Connection Not Perfection with The Ish Girl navigateright Episode

The Art of Parent-Teacher Communication

THE ART OF PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION

Last week, we talked about how oftentimes, the dynamic between teachers and parents is very cautious sometimes, if not contentious. If you’re on the teacher side of things, it’s easy to fall into dreading – and trying to avoid – parent contact. If you’re on the parent side of things, it’s easy to go all Momma Bear before hearing everything a teacher has to say.

Neither are great ways to support our teens.

Right now, I want to acknowledge that teachers and parents are doing their absolute best at communicating – sometimes even going to extreme measures - during this coronavirus quarantine. Just last night I watched a news story where a high school principal visited every single one of his seniors.

So I know we’re all trying.

But I have a tough question that I’m respectfully asking you to consider.

Is there room for improvement in the parent-teacher dynamic you have going on? In how you communicate?

BE THE CHANGE

Assuming some of you answered yes, the next logical question is “how?”

I’m going to fall back on Gandhi here, go with a very overused quote – "You have to be the change you want to see in the world."

So, if you want the parent-teacher communication dynamic to change, you have to be the one to spearhead the effort. That means setting aside any of your previous experiences and moving forward in a different way. Last week was all about the first step – setting aside your history and preconceived ideas. I created a free resource to help you do that, The Shift Your Communication Mindset Inventory, that walks you through the process. You can find a link to it on the show notes page at theishgirl.com/ep79.

This week is all about the second step, moving forward in a different way. So let's dig in!

THE FIRST ORDER OF BUSINESS

When you determine that communication needs to happen, first ask yourself if this is something your student/child needs to do on his/her own? If yes, guide and empower them. If no, prepare to communicate on their behalf by answering the following questions:

  • What’s the purpose?
  • Who’s the audience – could be students, parents, colleagues, administration?
  • What outcome do I want?
  • What format/context do I want to use?

FORMAT FRAMEWORKS

The Sandwich Format

Intro, Positive, Challenge/Issue/Problem, Positive, Closing

The Parfait Format

Intro, Positive, Specific Positive Details, Positive, Closing

The Article Format

Intro, Who, What, When, Where, Why, Closing

The Recipe Format

Intro, Step 1, 2, 3, etc., Closing

DIFFERENT KINDS OF PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION

There is a problem or concern and we need to work together to solve it

  • SPEAK IN-PERSON FIRST
  • Use The Sandwich Format
  • Explain what you’ve already tried
  • Suggest the next step

I’d like to offer a compliment, a thank you, or kudos

  • Use The Parfait Format
  • Give concrete examples

I need to share information with you for a reason

  • Use The Article Format
  • Use specifics
  • Explain why you’re sharing/sending

I need you to do something

  • Use The Recipe Format
  • Make sure the measurable results are clear

WRAPPING UP THE PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION

Whether meeting in person, making a phone or Zoom call, or writing an email or physical note, you need to prepare. If it’s real-time, at the very least jot down talking points, using the frameworks I shared. You may even want to literally outline or script it if you’re nervous and worried you won’t be able to stay on track.

Before you make contact, make sure to take some final steps.

Review, Revise and Format

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Did I set the right tone?
  • Is it as simple as I can make it?
  • Did I use the least amount of words possible? I like to use the rule of thumb inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupery (who wrote The Little Prince) “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
  • Is there white space?

A quick aside. I was talking to a couple of friends about someone I knew who was experiencing micromanagement. One of them pointed out that when someone is feeling micromanaged, it’s usually a red flag that there is a lack of communication. When you proactively answer any questions that might arise, you prevent that feeling of someone looking over your shoulder.

RESPONDING TO PARENT-TEACHER COMMUNICATION

Now, let’s flip things to the receiving end of communication. Here are some steps you can follow to maintain a positive dynamic.

  • Begin by assuming the best.
  • Be curious, rather than demanding.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • If you’re communicating in real-time and find you’re having trouble processing at the moment, say it. Ask for more time and even ask for a written version of the information if you think it would be helpful and doable.
  • Remember that everyone makes sense. When you know someone’s story, their behaviors, attitudes, and actions suddenly become more understandable.

Implementing these communication strategies can alleviate any dread, defensiveness, stress, and anxiety you may have.

YOU GET TO DECIDE

What you have to decide is: Do you want to be proactive, and set the tone when you engage in parent-teacher communication? Or do you want to be reactive and avoid it until there’s no other choice left? Or approach it with suspicion and distrust?

When it comes to communicating in a way that best supports our kids, I vote for proactive every time.

If you want to be proactive, you can get started by checking out the helpful articles I curated on my show notes page for this episode. There is also a free Parent-Teacher Communication Checklist, including examples, to help you keep these suggestions and frameworks in mind.

I’d love to know how this goes for you! You can reach out via all my socials – there are links below, or, you can join my email list and reply to me there. You definitely don’t want to miss my weekly messages, where I share things I don’t talk about anywhere else. You will find a link to sign up on my show notes page.