Tips for the ten-minute conversation

A substantive and effective parent conversation in no more than ten minutes, these nine tips will help you. "Build a bridge between your expertise and that of parents."



  1. Know what you want to say

    With good preparation you enable a substantive and effective conversation of up to ten minutes. Check in advance: how is this child, what did I notice in the past period and what do I want to say about it? Is a child doing well? Be able to tell what is going well. Also prepare for the structure of the conversation. Provide a welcome, an explanation of what you are going to say in the conversation and space for parents to ask questions. If a follow-up is necessary, make agreements about what that follow-up will be.

  2. Stay away from the computer

    Parents want to feel like you really see their child. You do this by telling how the child is doing at school, which is striking, especially in a positive sense. “And as far as I'm concerned, you leave the computer off and tell it in words,” says Gabriëlle Bos, trainer and author of the book Communicating with parents at primary school.
    Therefore do not dive behind the computer with parents to discuss graphs from the student tracking system. “Show who the child behind the tests is. Parents appreciate that. " Give them the space to say how they think their child experiences school or how he is at home. In this way a conversation actually arises, a mutual exchange of knowledge and information.

  3. Think of parents as fellow experts

    You are the education expert. You know better than anyone how a student is doing at school. But when it comes to the child, parents are the experts. They know their child through and through. Consider them as a valuable additional source of information to complete your picture of a student. “In this way you work towards equality in which everyone has their own expertise”, says Bos. "And because you are the teacher, it is up to you to build a bridge between your expertise and that of parents."

  4. Inquiring attitude helps you further

    Does a student exhibit difficult behavior? With an inquisitive attitude rather than an absolute one, you have the best chance of actually getting into a conversation about this with parents. 'Do you recognize that' is the important question. “When parents answer in the affirmative, it provides mutual relief,” says Bos. "And that gives room to see together what you can do to help the child." If parents do not recognize the behavior, look together for similarities and differences between school and the home situation. "Maybe you will discover together that the behavior has to do with school-home coordination." And: “You can say that you find it difficult to deal with the child's behavior. Most parents will realize that there is indeed a problem for which you have to find a solution together. ”

  5. To blame? Keep asking!

    Getting blamed is never fun, it affects your intentions and your professionalism. The trick is not to get defensive and keep asking questions. Help yourself by examining what exactly is going on from your professionalism. Ask what happened. In this way you investigate where the blame comes from and why parents come up with it. Generally, under reproach lies the parents' concern for their child and the desire for things to go well. “That is also your intention as a teacher. So you have something in common and asking further helps to identify it. "What makes you think I should have done it differently?" If it concerns an approach or incident that you know has gone wrong, please indicate this. Explain that you understand that you should have done it differently and that you will do it differently next time. That gives parents the confidence that they can come to you with their story, that you listen and are willing to do things differently. ”

  6. Be kind to yourself

    See how many conversations you can handle in a row and stick to them. Schedule a break in between.

  7. Nerves are allowed

    As a starter, it is not surprising at all to be nervous about parent conversations. In short pauses between conversations, you can check what went well and what you might be able to do differently in subsequent conversations.
    "If you see it as a mountain against a conversation because you have had an unpleasant experience with these parents before, you almost call it on yourself that it will be frustrating talking to them again," says Bos. “In that case, more is needed than a ten-minute conversation. Discuss this with your director and see how you can solve this together. "

  8. Leave colleagues out

    Do not be tempted to make statements about colleagues. Ask if parents have discussed this with the teacher concerned or what they want you to do with it.

  9. And last but not least:

    The ten-minute conversation is part of the total parent contact. As a team, check annually whether that parent contact is still in the form that is adequate. If something changes, communicate it clearly to parents.