Our junior high follows a typical regimen when a student repeatedly causes disciplinary problems. After documenting a certain number of them, we have to call the parents. After a few more, we have to have a parent meeting.
I’ve had to do a few of these. Most of the time, they’re uncomfortable but we get through them. Most parents are willing to hear and understand what we’re going through at school.
A 2010 study, published in Educational Psychology
Vol. 30, No. 1, January 2010, 53–74,
shows that this process usually has negative results for students.
After such phone calls and meetings, the parents’ discussions with students are usually so negative, including punishments, that students shut down and actually perform worse in school.
The study recommends that schools pursue positive communications rather than negative ones with parents. In our school, this doesn’t happen much. Only a very few attend parent-teacher conferences, and these parents are usually the ones who don’t really need to talk to us because their students are doing fine.
We rarely call these parents because, well, the students are doing fine.
However, this study suggests that the negative parent calls and meetings are not a good way to help the troubled ones do as well themselves.