Be positive with people and you’ll get positive results (Blanchard, Lacinak, Tompkins, Ballard, & Blanchard, 2002).
Todd Whitaker (2004) is known for stating, “Raise the praise and minimize the criticize.” A interview is not the time to vividly describe and elaborate on every single minor classroom disruption.
Great teachers help create magical moments and have the ability to ignore minor errors (Whitaker, 2004).
Here are some additional tips for successful interviews provided by the Illinois Education Association (2000). I hope you will keep these in mind as you prepare for next week’s interviews:
- Prepare an interview outline. How are you going to budget your minimal time with parents?
- Gather student samples for praising and for redirecting.
- Anticipate possible parent concerns.
- Greet each parent with a handshake and a friendly smile.
- Ask parents if they have any concerns, and reassure parents that their concerns will be addressed.
- Before addressing any concern, describe students’ improvements or successes since the progress report.
- Collaborate when addressing any concern. There should be teacher suggestions as well as parent input. Both parties should agree to this strategy. Suggestions may include more parent involvement by having parents sign daily agendas, graded assignments, or tests. This may mean more teacher involvement also, such as signing agendas, checking notebooks or binders, or having a biweekly phone conference or email.
- End on a positive note.
It is impossible to praise too much as long as it is authentic (Bissell, 1992).
Interviews have provided me with some of my most rewarding moments in teaching. Just as we appreciate praise for our efforts, parents appreciate praise for their efforts and their child’s progress. Although the school calendar may set aside 2 days for parent-teacher interviews each year, I believe great teachers know that parent-teacher interviews are held throughout the entire school year. A great teacher keeps the student, the team, and the parents informed at all times.