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Conference from Hell

Parent Issue 


Junior Member
Advice Please!! Had the worst parent teacher conference of my career last week. I brought up the fact that this child ( to the mother) is experiencing some difficulty writing her name and identifying letters/ sounds. Her name is getting better but she was reversing letters, writing letters out of order, etc. This child also scored the lowest on the DIBELS and the RAN/RAS in the entire 5 Kindergarten classrooms- so I have reasons to concerned. The mother took my head off- yelling and threatening to report me to the principal- saying "Isn't kindergarten where kindergartners learn to write their name"?. She did report to the principal and now we all have to meet together via Zoom. I have never been spoken to like that by any parent in 25 years. I have no desire to speak to her- she verbally abused me. Any advice would be so helpful??????


Senior Member
I am so sorry that you are having to deal with CRAZY when this year is already hard enough. I don't know if I will be much help, but I'll try. I understand how you are feeling-been there and done that/

Did you have a chance to talk with the principal to let him/her know what happened at the conference? Do you feel comfortable telling your principal that you felt attacked and verbally abused at the conference and if the parent is aggressive towards you, you will leave the meeting? Are there any other teachers who work with the child who could sit in on the meeting with you to support you?

Does your district use something like Common Core Standards? If so, print out a copy to send home to the parent before the meeting or prepare slides to share with parent during the meeting. Some parents don't understand that kindergarten today is different from when they attended kindergarten. There are expectations students have to meet by the end of the year in order to be prepared for first grade.

My district uses New Jersey Student Learning Standards which basically is the Common Core Standards. We worked as a grade level to map out the expectations for each trimester. i.e. The children have 50 sight words to recognize. We don't start introducing sight words until October. So for Trimester 1, the expectation is that the child recognizes 10 sight words, but by Trimester 3, it is 50 sight words. Do you have anything like that that you can print out so the parent can see that your expectations are realistic and the same as the other kinderarten classes and that you aren't expecting her child to know everything right now?

Organize your data. You don't want to say Johnny is weak in letter recognition. State it objectively and be specific like "Johnny recognizes __ out of ___ uppercase letters and ___ out of ___ lowercase letters. The expectation for the first marking period is that a kindergarten student recognizes __ out of ___uppercase letters and _ out of __ lowercase letters. " You want to start out the discussion with pointing out any areas of growth. Then share the areas of concern. Share the list of letters known/unknown... Do you use ESGI? We use it for progress monitoring and report card assessments. I find it helpful to print out the reports and send home to the parents.

Share the different ways you have supported the student. i.e. worked with the child one-on-one and/or small groups, use differentiated materials-tactile letters, traced letters in sand, made letters with Play-Doh, ...

Do you have a reading coach or Title One interventionist in your school? We have a Title 1 teacher who starts to pull Tier 2 and Tier 3 kindergarten students in December/January in small groups several times a week for targeted intervention. Does your school offer any other support for kindergaten students?

Prepare suggestions for how the parent can work with the child at home and provide the needed materials. Some parents just don't know how to work with their child. (i.e. tactile letter cards-write a letter with black permanent marker on each index card. Trace over with Elmer's glue. You can sprinkle sand on top. Allow to dry overnight.) You don't want to overwhelm the parent. Have the parent work with 5 letters (both uppercase and lowercase) at a time. Have the child do letter matching (same-same, uppercase-lowercase) and letter sorting activities. Make the letter with Play-Doh, wikki stix... Go on letter hunts. Trace the letters with markers, crayons... (Sometimes it is easier for a child to trace if you write it with a highlighter first or have them trace inside bubble letters.)

Do you have a song or gestures you use with the letters? We use a modified version of Dr. Jean's song. Each letter has a cue word and a gesture. We do the gestures while singing the song each day. We made a alphabet song book and an ABC chart using the same pictures (cue words) as the ones posted in our classroom. Maybe you could do something similarfor this child. Send home the book for the parent to sing with the child. Have the child recite the alphabet while pointing to the letter on the ABC chart and say the letter name, sound, cue word and do the gesture. I have letter fluency strips on binder rings. Each strip review one letter. i.e. A A a a /a/ /a/ apple.

Reversals are common in kindergarten. For b and d reversals, it is sometimes helpful if you don't use the same strokes to make those letters to help distinguish them. i.e. We make the bat first "pull-down stroke" and then the ball"circle forward" when writing b. (Lowercase b fits in the belly of uppercase b. Lowercase b has a belly.) We write the c first "circle back stroke" and turn it into d "pull-up stroke/pull down stroke" when writing d. (Lowercase d wears a diaper. Picture a doughnut rolling into a door.) You can teach the child to use her fingers to make the bed by touching middle fingers to thumbs and holding pointer fingers up. When looking at the bed, say "b comes before d." For some kids I draw an arrow pointing right in the upper left corner of their paper to help them work in a left-to-right direction.

At the beginning of the year, we work on our first names and identifying those letters. I prepare an individualized sheet for each student that has 6 ways to practice their name. I'll attach a copy. They roll out Play-Doh snakes to make their name in Item 1. They use letter cards to build their name for Item 2...

Something to keep in mind. Due to pandemic and Covid protocols, some parents have not had the opportunity to see their child with other 5 year olds so they might not have a realistic view of what their child can do. Sometimes we are the first ones to tell them that their precious child is not perfect. We have to reassure the parent that we are not giving up on the child. Talk about working together as a team to help the child be successful in school.

I had a student last year whose grandmother taught at a Montessori preschool. Both mother and grandmother attended the virtual parent conference. The child was a little behind. Grandmother immediately attacked me and said I wasn't doing my job. The children at her school leave kindergarten reading at the fourth grade level (which we all know is not true)... I was firm with them and held my own during the conference, but once it was over, I cried because it was so stressful.

Good luck with your meeting!!! Hang in there! It is hard, but don't let it get to you. Be good to yourself this weekend.
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Junior Member
Thank you!

Thank you so very much for your wonderful ideas and kindness. I was so taken aback by the hostility- but I will try to approach things calmly and positively. You are so right about the pandemic- there is so much going on and there also may be other issues at home. I will use some of your strategies to calm things down.