Resolving Conflicts With Parents, Para-Pros, and Administrators

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Conflict tends to be a part of our lives and all too often, is inevitable. Emotions run high when dealing with differences over the best way to deal with disabilities. Dealing with conflict and disagreement effectively is half the battle and can create positive outcomes. When conflict and disagreement are handled inappropriately, the outcome can be destructive and are rarely in the best interest of either party, let alone the student.

At the same time, all of the parties are often under a lot of pressure. There are more and more demands put on public education without enough resources, not only monetary but also human (not enough qualified personnel) and often those resources, but physical and the time of the professionals, are stretched thin. At the same time, with the spread of information, often misinformation, parents sometimes pressure teachers and schools to try therapies or educational strategies that are not based on data and peer-reviewed research. 

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  • Parents:  Often parents have powerfully conflicting emotions. On one hand, they are extraordinarily protective, but some parents at the same time may hold deeply ableist attitudes of shame or guilt over their child's disabilities - which is a problem in and of itself. Sometimes parents conceal these feelings, even from themselves, by coming on strong. 
  • Teachers and Para-professionals: Good teachers seek to do what is best for their students and take pride in their effectiveness as educators. Sometimes we become thin-skinned if we think parents or administrators are questioning either our integrity or our commitment to the student. Relax. It's easier said than done, but we need to reflect rather than becoming overly reactive. 
  • Administrators: As well as being accountable to parents and students, administrators are also accountable to superiors who are charged with protecting the interests of the school districts, which may include keeping the costs of providing services down. That is why they are often called the Local Education Authority (LEA) in our meetings. Some administrators, unfortunately, don't understand that investing time and attention into their staff will produce better outcomes for everyone. 

Strategies for Handling Conflicts and Disagreements

Differences must be resolved - it is in the best interest of the child to do so. Remember, sometimes a disagreement occurs as a direct result of a misunderstanding. Always clarify the issues at hand.

  • Parents and school staff members must work closely together to address the issues.
  • Pro-active means of reducing conflict include sharing positive information about the student with parents in an ongoing manner. 
  • It is essential for both parties to realize that the goals for the child are 'shared goals'. Both must agree that the child's interest comes first.
  • Avoid confrontation and deal specifically with solutions to the identified issues and be prepared to offer alternatives.
  • Always deal with the issues rather than the emotions and the people involved. Acknowledging the emotions may be a positive way to diffuse them. 
  • Decide on what you can compromise on, effective resolution usually requires some form of compromise on both parties behalf.
  • Be sure that your expectations are realistic and reasonable.
  • Specify both long term and short term goals and state when a follow-up visit should occur.
  • All parties need to commit to the recommended solutions and agree jointly.
  • All parties must rely on each other, it is, therefore, essential to work out differences and work together regardless of how sensitive the issue is.
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Your Citation
Watson, Sue. "Resolving Conflicts With Parents, Para-Pros, and Administrators." ThoughtCo, Feb. 9, 2022, Watson, Sue. (2022, February 9). Resolving Conflicts With Parents, Para-Pros, and Administrators. Retrieved from Watson, Sue. "Resolving Conflicts With Parents, Para-Pros, and Administrators." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 1, 2023).