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Tactful Ways to Talk to Parents About Failing Students

Staying in touch with your students' parents throughout the academic year is important, but it really takes on an increased significance as the academic period draws to a close and the student is at risk of failing your class. Parents may or may not be aware of a student's poor academic standing in your class if you do not make the extra effort to contact them because a student may be hesitant to discuss their failing with the parent. As an educator, you must develop and implement an ongoing policy of alerting parents to changes or developments in the students' progress that may result in the student receiving a poor or even failing grade.

Communicate Early in the Academic Term

Many students begin the academic year in an unmotivated and carefree state despite the efforts of parents, teachers and others to encourage them to work hard during the school year. Students who don't make good use of their time during the year can end up as failing students. If you recognize a pattern emerging or do not believe that a student is giving it their 'all', then communicating with the parents via a parent/teacher conference is ideal, and the student should be the subject of regular follow-up reports on progress and other means of communicating with the parent.

So-Called Average Students

Sometimes it is not as obvious to the student or the parent that there is a problem, but as a teacher, you can sometimes spot an impending disaster from a mile off. The average student makes average scores - and one failing grade added to a low average can put them in dire straits academically. For instance, if you have a student whose average in your class was 83% prior to taking the last test that you administered, and the student did poorly, his grade average can easily slip into the lower 70s. Another test with another poor grade and he may end up with a D for the class or worse. In these cases, it is important to establish communication with the parent in the form of an immediate telephone conversation where you relay your concerns and ask the parent to intervene.

Avoid Progress Report Shock

By letting the parent know the situation with a failing student, you avoid the progress report shock that he or she may feel when they realize that their child has received a failing grade for the academic period. Parents are rightfully angry when they look at a progress report with a blaring "F" but were never notified by the teacher or school that the child's grades were slipping. (Some parents have gone as far as to threaten legal action against the teacher because they feel this shows negligence on the school's part). As a teacher, you can avoid any problems by:

- Sending progress reports about the student on a regular basis.

- Following up with parents regarding the students grades and progress.

- Sending an email to the parents if they cannot be reached by phone.

- Keeping copies of all communications regarding the student.

- Notifying guidance counselor or principle about the problem.

- Keeping a log of interactions with the parents and student regarding grades.

As a teacher, you are in a wonderful position to make a real difference in your students' lives, and this sometimes includes involving their parents if you sense that there is an underlying problem that is keeping the student from excelling.
About Author Jennifer Dobson :

Jennifer Dobson is an early childhood educator and she invites you to visit her favorite online teacher supply store, <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. It offers a huge selection of classroom supplies, teaching resources, and even furniture!

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Article Added on Thursday, September 29, 2011
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