1. Clarify and write down what you want to accomplish from the conference, as well as how to keep everyone focused on the outcome. Be prepared to measure the results three weeks after the conference.
2. Try to predict ahead of time what the parentSecondary Schools will say and be prepared to offer some simple but significant solutions.
3. Watch the non-verbal and the unspoken language (i.e. body language) to assess the level of acceptance to the conference goalSecondary Schools.
4. Solicit permission to clarify and expand on ideas presented throughout the conference.
5. Suggest that the parents use WBR (Without Being Reminded) cards to promote responsible behavior in the children. (These cards can be found in the book The ABCD’s of Discipline.)
6. Always maintain a compassionate and positive climate during the conference.
Steps in Parent Conference
a. Validate the parent for being there, and for showing a cooperative spirit and willingness to work together on behalf of the child. Make them comfortable by offering them something to drink. (If you sit on the floor below them, you can empower the parents, plus they will be more willing to work with you.)
b. Invite the parents to ask questions that they might have as they were thinking about the conference prior to arriving. Get their voice in the room early.
c. Inform the parent that you occasionally get off tract and might ask something that is none of your business. Give the parent permission to stop you, especially if it includes family privacy issues. Let them know that the conference is about strengthening the parent and the child.
d. Ask permission to share a suggestion or two before you begin the conference. “May I make a couple of suggestions before we get started?” i.e. you don’t need to get closure on everything discussed. Sometimes it’s better to sleep on the ideas and then discuss them up at a later date.
e. Ask permission to document the conference and the options needed by taking notes on the action steps to be completed, or by recording the conference so that all those involved in the conference can work together on behalf of the child.
f. Write a letter of encouragement and summarize what is needed from each person who is working with the child.