38 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
in a cosy bean bag. The bottom line: parents who start wanting to “fix”
whatever issue or problem is apparent in their child need to take a step
back, consult with the experts, and leave schooling to the place that does it
Success Point 4: Know and accept the data (and never
fudge the figures)
Some of the most difficult conversations that occur between teachers and
parents are when students are beginning to perform outside the norm.
Such conversations are often laden – on both sides of the table - with a
high level of anxiousness, grief, despair, confusion, and fear. Many parents
react initially with feelings of astonishment and shock when given the news
of their child’s learning difference. Before they can accept the truth of the
situation, they may need to work through a series of emotional reactions.
At this point, they need compassion and understanding. They also need
honesty: although it may be tempting for educators to be placating or
avoid the issues at hand, it is clearly damaging to do so. Good educators
know the importance of having carefully constructed data to support such
conversations. Data gives objectivity and helps to de-personalize.
Know the data. Whether it’s a standardized score or a twenty-page report
from an Educational Psychologist, educators need to deeply understand the
data they are sharing and why it’s important. As well as looking for places
where a student performs outside the norm, educators need to be armed
to talk about discrepancies: places where the data shows a significant gap
between potential and achievement or a disparity between scores that
may indicate a learning need. The important point here is that data that is
well presented and understood by all parties can help both educators and
parents manage their expectations.
Accept the data as part of a process. Rarely do we question a blood test
or an MRI. In the same way, teachers should feel just as confident as a
medical professional in conveying learning results, and parents should be
just as accepting. That doesn’t mean questions can’t be asked – and it also