Attending a school meeting can be intimidating and many parents worry about what is going to happen at the meeting. The following tips for a great meeting come from other parents of children with special education needs and may help you at your next meeting.
- Start on a positive note – share a positive story about your child.
- Use humour to build a positive and productive atmosphere.
- Exhibit positive body language – smile, shake hands and maintain eye contact.
- Be assertive and stay calm – make requests rather than demands.
- Come prepared to the meeting – makes notes and organize your ideas to help explain yourself clearly.
- Use the “I” messages – “I noticed …., I am concerned about….”
- Demonstrate cooperation – stress ‘We’, What can we do?
- Offer suggestions when you can – ask open ended questions and avoid interrogating school staff.
- Use “what, when? where? questions, or how? and why?” for more in-depth probing.
- When determining the seriousness of the problem, ask how often it has occurred.
- Listen carefully – repeat back what you heard for confirmation, or ask questions for clarification.
- Emphasize your child’s strengths.
- Share strategies that work at home.
- Decide on a plan or future action – Who does what, when?
- Ask when you can meet again to review progress.
- Say thank you as you leave.
After the meeting, send a thank you note, with a summary of key points and the action plan. This creates a record of what you heard and what you are expecting to happen next.