What do you do if the conference becomes hostile?
- If threatened, ask for an end to the meeting. If the principal is not present, ask that the meeting be moved to his or her office. Remember, you can always ask for a break if one is needed; you might even need to go to the restroom.
- Remember: stay calm, speak slowly, keep it short, and do not become defensive or angry.
- If the parent makes complaints, ask him/her to write them down. State that you will respond in writing.
- Do not get up and walk out of the conference unless you have been given permission by the principal. In an Arlington ISD decision, a teacher felt that a conference with a parent had turned negative. She asked to leave the conference and to return when she had her representative with her. Her request was denied. She chose to leave, anyway. As a result, she was reprimanded by the Arlington ISD. The Commissioner of Education upheld this reprimand.
- If the parent is making charges against you, ask that the conference be re-scheduled to a time when you can have your association representative or attorney present. If this is denied to you, sit there and continue with the broken record: “I believe that we have gone past how we can help your child and that you are making charges against me. Therefore, I am asking that we reschedule this meeting until a time when I can have my representative present. In addition, I am asking that you put your complaints against me in writing so that I may respond in writing.”
10 Things To Do If Things Get Rough
- Watch what you say—in fact, talk very little. But be friendly and open in your actions.
- Use the “broken record” technique. State the problem and the consequence.
- Ask the parent to write down complaints so that you can offer a written response.
- Stay cool. Remember–you are the professional.
- Don’t leave unless you have been given permission by the administration.
- If you need to leave to collect your thoughts, ask for a recess or a bathroom break.
- If a hostile conference takes place in a hallway or your room, walk to the office and don’t stop except to ask another teacher to cover your class.
- Don’t look back and don’t argue all the way there.
- Ask for guidance from administration (individually or in a faculty meeting) relating to how they want you to handle hostile parents.
- Call your association if you need more guidance.