Archive for Troubles

6 Parent/Teacher Conference Tips Not Often Heard

Parent- teacher conferences are a time where there should be a meeting of the minds.  Teachers should be able to lay out their case for the child’s progress academically, socially, and emotionally.  Parents should be able to compare what they are hearing to what is going on at home.  At that point, a plan should come together as to how to work with the child going forward. It should be the ultimate collaboration crammed into about 15 minutes.

When I was a teacher, I was meticulous about laying out my arguments about how a child was performing before a parent walked through my door.  Instead of dominating the meeting, I would lay out these arguments as quickly as possible in order to allow the parent to agree or disagree with my assessment.  Because I have been on both ends of the parent teacher conference table ( I was an elementary teacher for 7 years) perhaps these tips will guide you through a conference.


The first tip is for a parent to keep samples of student work just like a teacher.  This is especially helpful if there is a disputed grade in a subject.  Bring the student work to the conference and compare it with the work the teacher presents.

The second tip is to respect the knowledge of the teacher concerning your child but don’t take it as the law.  You have been around your child for years.  At this point, a teacher has had your child two months (give or take).  I’m not saying that teachers do not know what they are talking about.  What I am saying is that you know your child better than anyone.  There’s nothing wrong with trusting your instincts unless the teacher can present irrefutable evidence.

The third tip is to approach the conference as a problem solver.  The last thing a parent should want is to be lectured for 15 minutes about poor grades or behavior then sent home shamefully.  Let’s pretend there is a behavior problem in the classroom.  As a parent, you should be able to present a few effective methods you have used at home for handling discipline. If concentration is an issue, what do you do at home to help your child concentrate?

The fourth tip is for parents to understand that teachers aren’t the only professionals in the room.  All parents should be treated like professionals because when it comes to your child, you might as well have a PH. D.  If you feel like you are being talked down to or belittled by a teacher, you can choose to address it on the spot.  If you are not confrontational or if you have a situation that catches you off guard; going to the principal is always a good option.

My fifth bit of advice is to not get too excited or too depressed about the results of a parent/teacher conference.  A conference is simply a snapshot in time.  If a conference goes well, be happy for your child but understand there is still more work to do.  If a conference doesn’t go well, that’s fine in most cases.  There is  plenty of time to turn the problem around.

Finally, here’s the key once a conference has concluded.  Follow up with the teacher (in the next couple of weeks) by phone or email to make sure that the game plan from the conference is being implemented to everyone’s satisfaction.  Often, I had parents who I would not see again until the next conference 5 months later.  It’s much better for all parties (especially children) when the parent clearly demonstrates they are keeping their finger on the pulse.

I hope you liked today’s article.  Don’t forget that there are many other lessons parents can learn from my parenting book Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.  Feel free to read the preface located right below my picture.  I hope the lessons you will learn from the book will serve your family well.  Here’s the direct link to the book from

I also wanted to announce that over this past weekend, I receive the 1,000th comment on  For everyone who has ever cared enough to leave a thought on my website, I truly appreciate your time and effort.

My next post will be on Tuesday.  Have a terrific weekend.

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Achieveing a New Year's Resolution

New year - which direction?Which direction will you go in 2011?

Happy 2011 to all of you.  I hope you are reading this post in good spirits and with an open mind because we have some work to do.  The first thing I want to talk about are some of the best ways I have seen in achieving a New Year’s resolution.  The next thing is talking about my resolution because I’m going to need your help.

New Year’s resolutions seem to be difficult for a couple of reasons.  The first is the highs and lows of life and how it gets in the way of what we are trying to accomplish.  The second is that a year is a long time. Having the same drive to achieve a goal on day 1, day 122, and day 364 can be difficult.

It’s important in a family for everyone to help everyone else achieve their resolutions.  Life will still have it’s highs and lows for each individual; but having the support of your family can help offset them.  Though I don’t have a shred of statistical evidence, I would bet many resolutions are not achieved simply because people try to accomplish them alone.  You can actually help your kids with their goals as well by showing a passion while working on your resolutions.  After all, iron sharpens iron. 

It’s also a good idea to make goals as a family and post them somewhere for all to see.  You’ve got to be accountable to each other and willing to have your own feet held to the fire when you are not sticking to the goals.  

For example, my wife had the goal last year of running a 10k (6.2 miles) on a treadmill.  To some, that may not be a big deal but to her- it meant everything.  I tried to help by keeping up with my workouts, giving her positive encouragement, and allowing her time to go to the gym while I took care of the kids.  I’m proud to tell you that on December 31, 2010, the goal was accomplished.  I couldn’t be more proud.

The second tip I would give would be to break a year into parts and attack your New Year’s goal incrementally.  For example, if you’d like to loose 20 pounds this year, try stating the goal like this:  “I will lose 1.66 pounds per month.”  That’s it.  According to what I have heard from Weight Watchers, losing a pound per week is reasonable. Therefore, losing 1.66 pounds in a month isn’t too hard.  Is it?  In a year’s time, the resolution will have been accomplished.

Now for my goal.  My New Year’s resolution is to sell the Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures book to a publisher.  I have three reasons for this.

1.  Selling the book may allow my wife to work a little less.  She has been our sole bread winner for 4 years.  Without her sacrifices, the book nor the blog would have come to fruition.  Please understand that if you have learned something from my writings or have applied one thing from this blog to your household, part of the credit has to be given to her.

2.  Selling the book would mean reaching even more people with the positive messages I am sending.  I believe I can help a lot of good parents become even better; but they may be harder to reach if the book is never published.

3.  The final reason I want to get Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures published is I already have an outline for a follow up book.  After writing the first book, I was so drained because it took 11 months.  Honestly, I didn’t believe I had another book in me.  It looks like I was wrong.  The follow up book will have more stories and anecdotes and really fun lessons for parents to think about.  Right now though, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to write a follow up book until the first one is published.

I told you in the beginning of the blog I needed your help.  Here are my requests.

I want you to hold my feet to the fire like I suggested earlier.  Encourage me if you read good blog posts.  Tell me what you liked and why.  If the posts were not up to par, tell me why as well and how it should have been improved.

Continue sending me parenting question and referring people to this site.  I believe in the six degrees of separation.  I’m not that far from having Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures in the hands of a publisher.  Sooner or later, this blog will receive enough hits that a publisher will come across it and want to know what all the commotion is about.

If you have happened to see the children’s movie Horton Hears a Who starring Jim Carrey, I feel like we are on the speck of Who-ville shouting “We are here, we are here, we are here!”
Horton Hears a Who!Image via Wikipedia
Thank you for all the time and encouragement you have given.  Here’s to a great 2011!