Q. I failed a student because he did not turn in work in my class. I met with his parents to outline what he needed to do to pass. He did not choose to complete those requirements. They have contacted the principal, the school board and the superintendent. Now they want another conference with me. How should I handle this situation?

A. First, don’t panic. Parents may be angry, but at this point their anger is directed at the wrong person. They should be upset with their son, who didn’t turn in his work. Keep that in mind as you prepare for the conference. You might hear a lot of anger, but remember that it is not personal.

To have a productive conference:

  • Be as prepared and professional as possible. Put your files in order. Be sure you have documention of all the actions you have taken with the student.
  • Practice what you are going to say. You might even ask a colleague to role-play with you. Defensiveness or anger will not be effective. You’ll need to stay calm.
  • Consider asking a colleague to sit in with you, just to take notes and to act as an observer.

Your goal for this conference should be to focus on the future. What can the student do to earn the credit? Is summer school an option?

By staying professional and calm, you may defuse some of the parents’ anger. You will also keep the focus where it belongs—on how to help this student earn his credits.

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