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NYC Helpline: How To: What You Need to Know

How to Handle Telephone Conferences

In the event that a parent is unable to meet with you in person, you might want to arrange for a telephone conference. The first thing you should do is send a notice to the parents explaining the purpose of the phone call. Include the day, date and time that you plan to call. Also include a tear-off so that the parent can confirm that he/she will be available for a conference at that time. Then, make sure that you call at the appointed time.

Before the phone call:

Create a format you are comfortable using. Include the name of the student, name of the parents, the date and time of the conference.
Make a checklist of prioritized items to be discussed. Leave space for notes during the conference.

During the phone call:

Be courteous and professional. Follow proper phone etiquette - do not chew gum or eat while you are on the phone. Be prepared to listen, as well as talk. Keep to the topic. Remember that this is a professional conference and that you are speaking to a parent, not a friend. Do not say anything you will regret. A rule of thumb is this: if you're not willing to say it in public then don't say it in private.

As you attend to each item on the checklist make a notation of the parent's response. Also note any actions you will take on the matter, as a result of the conversation.

Take your cue from the conversation. If it is taking too long you might want to omit some minor items from your agenda. These can be handled in a letter. If the tone of the conversation changes and you feel that you are no longer in control, then end the conference. Explain that it might be best to arrange for another conference or, even better, a meeting at the school.

After the phone call:

Write up the conversation. You do not need a verbatim transcription but you should have an accurate accounting what transpired. Include the day, date, time and participants. Also note any decisions that were made and any outcomes that should result from the conversation. If you promised to take any actions, then do so. Make sure you note the conference on the student's record card. Remember, this conference holds as much weight as one that takes place in person at school.


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