Parental Perspectives

Lawrence Barns, President & Chief Executive Officer of LDAO, and father of a son with LDs, reflects on his parent-teacher experiences:

Question: What are the key components of an effective parent-teacher relationship?

Answer: The greatest challenge, for both parents and teachers, is to effectively communicate. It may sound simple, but often conversations are disconnected because the teacher is using language that is specific to the field of special education, and may be unfamiliar to the parent. Having worked in the field for a number of years now, I even find myself doing it. It is important that teachers make sure parents understand field-specific vocabulary, such as accommodations versus modifications, at the beginning of a conversation. This will make sure there isn’t an inherent misunderstanding that could later cause problems.

The teacher also needs to actively listen to the parent; it is so easy to get caught up in solutions and methods that teachers may miss feedback regarding what is most effective for the student.  Parents can help to ascertain which supports are working and which are not, and help to make changes that will impact success. In my child’s case, speech-to-text software didn’t work well, so instead we developed keyboarding skills and made progress via a different route.

Click the play button below to listen to a clip from the TalkLD podcast episode, “Managing Parent-Teacher Relationships”. In this clip, Lawrence Barns speaks with Kelli Cote, a parent of a child with LDs and an educator who has worked with many families of students with LDs. As someone who has been on both sides of the school-family relationship, Kelli shares what she thinks educators can do to improve relationships with parents: