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Navigating the Parent Trap

Students aren’t the only individuals who can cause problems on trips.

Sometimes, parents are the ones you need to worry about.

Whether parents are making the planning process difficult, getting in arguments with one another or defending their student after a conflict, navigating the parent trap can be difficult.

If parents and teachers have anything in common, however, it’s that both want what’s best for students. Educators offer the following advice for preventing and resolving conflict.

Be Patient
First things first, be patient.

Everyone on the trip—educators, parents, students—are there to learn and have fun. Keep that in mind when resolving conflict.

Set clear expectations and policies and communicate them clearly, notes Joshua Sholler from Reading Music Department in Michigan. In the event of a conflict, having clear expectations and policies set beforehand will help you fairly resolve the situation.

Always communicate with parents directly, especially if a situation with a student occurs while traveling. Call them as soon as possible.

“The weakness comes from not communicating directly to the parents and allowing the student to shade the information from their point of view,” said Eric Hansen from Harper Creek High School Choirs in Michigan. “If communication is open and honest, most issues can be overcome.”

Make Yourself Available
Make yourself available to discuss any concerns and be compassionate.

“My band parents know that I have an open door and they can contact me at any time to sit down and discuss their questions and concerns,” said Joel Gittle from Manhattan High School Bands in Kansas. “They also know it will always remain a discussion.”

“Listen, listen, listen,” said Sholler. “First be a good listener. Hear the whole issue and then try to understand why there is an issue. Try to be empathetic, if the situation allows, and then explain your side of the situation.”

“Most of the time, parents just want what is best for their kids. Work toward that goal with the parent.”

Stay Organized
If a large decision needs to be made, ensure all of your ducks are in a row and remember that you’re running the show.

“Stay organized and make sure that parents understand that the final call rests with you. If a decision needs to be made, I do not recommend trying to make a group decision,” said Michael A. Emerson from Holt High School in Michigan. “Talk with your tour director and explain a new plan.”

Share and Share Again
Making all trip information available in several forms will help ensure it finds its way to parents and sticks.

“We are incredibly redundant with information when planning a trip of this magnitude,” said Gittle. “When a parent becomes disgruntled, I typically refer them to the information they have received and remind them that most questions can be answered there.”

Written by Educational Tours, Inc.

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