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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Formating Parent Communications

I was talking with a friend today about how I "sugar coat" bad news to make it sound good. She was surprised to hear I actually took a class in college called Creative Communication Strategies where for 16 weeks I learned how to take the worst news possible and turn it into something nice.

In business, there are lots of times when you need to tell someone something they don't like to hear. I am blunt, straight forward, and to the point. I struggled in this class. It was the hardest class I ever took. I passed with a B... the lowest grade I ever received in college.

It never occurred to me that teacher's don't take this class although we could certainly use it! I know I use it all the time!! So today, I thought I would teach it too all of you.

It's Pea-nut But-ter Jelly Time!
(just pretend I am rapping/singing it cuz its stuck in my head that way)

You have seen the video haven't you??
If not, here's your chance to be annoyed.

My sons have been banned from 
singing this ever again!

There is an ice cream and cake version...

Anyway... we were talking about PBJ and spinach not annoying songs. That is the formula for parent communications. 2 compliments... the bad thing you really want to share... and another compliment. 

Peanut Butter
Compliment #1... is just like smooth creamy peanut butter. It is simplistic in nature, easily seen by anyone who has ever meet the person. For example, Johnny comes to school every day impeccably dressed. His hair is always parted perfectly. Even his desk and backpack are always in perfect order. Or Susan walks into every classroom with a smile on her face eager to see what the day holds in store. 

Compliment #2.... is just like sticky, sweet jelly. A little sappy, a little over the top as all parents (persons want to be complimented. For example, Johnny wit and knowledge on a wide variety of subjects enhances our daily discussions exponentially. Or Susan is just the sweetest doll and so helpful, I just don't know how I will do without her in my class. 

The Negative.... the thing that you really wanted to say this whole time. It's like finding spinach in your sandwich. It's disgusting! You don't want to talk about, its the elephant in the room.. but it has to be said. Despite following our classroom plan, Johnny continues to exhibit difficulties with Jose. The name calling has escalated to a point where we now need your help to resolve this issue. Susan is continual interrupting the class with her humor and wit thus not allowing the other students to learn. I need your assistance in curtailing future interruptions.

Compliment #3.... Wrap up the whole thing in a nice warm piece of homemade bread fresh from the oven. I truly love having Johnny in my class and I know with this minor change his true loving nature will pour forth. Susan is so beautiful and talented. Decreasing her need for speaking will allow her to become a the brilliant brain surgery I know she is destined to become.

So there ya have it... one disgusting sandwich making lesson you will never forget. And it comes in handy too. What method do you use for sharing bad news with parents?

9 days and counting....



At June 28, 2012 at 10:53 AM , Blogger April Kreitzer Wolfe said...

My son LOVE the peanut butter jelly song. He now makes up his own versions of it too. I actually use the Ice Cream and Cake version in my classroom for birthday's. Throughout the day I play the song and we do a little dance with it. Great suggestions for conferences. It is always difficult to tell parents the negatives.


At June 28, 2012 at 11:07 AM , Blogger Heidi said...

What a wonderful visual for conferences. Talking to parents is the worst so being able to have a handy helper like this will make them a bit easier.

My (Not So) Elementary Life

At June 28, 2012 at 11:47 AM , Blogger Jessica Stanford said...

May I thank you for getting this song stuck in my head!?

Jessica Stanford
Mrs. Stanford's Class
I need your help! Come check out my last post ā¤

At June 28, 2012 at 12:32 PM , Blogger Angel Read said...

I've heard of the Positive-Negative-Positive method before, but I've never heard it described like this before! Great explanation! Also, now I'm hungry.

At June 28, 2012 at 2:54 PM , Blogger Lisa R. said...

I like the Peanut Butter/Jelly/Spinach/Bread layout! I definitely think it helps when you gently lead into any negative comments or concerns about the student to make sure that you tell them positives, as well. It's always worked in the past for me. :)
Learning Is Something to Treasure

At June 28, 2012 at 7:06 PM , Blogger Corrina Allen said...

Ah - great advice! I always try to make sure that the first parent contact is always JUST positive. Next year I'll only have 21 instead of 75 (yippee!) so I plan on calling every parent the first week. We'll see how that goes!

Diary of a Sixth Grade Teacher


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