As educators, sometimes students are the easiest part of class management. Don’t get me wrong… managing students is no simple feat. However, managing disruptive parents is much more complicated.
We went through a multi-step process to get parents to stop disrupting class. After one month of implementation, we were able to greatly reduce the number of parent interruptions and increase the efficiency of our instructors, resulting in a higher number of repeat sign-ups for our classes.
Curious about how we did it? The first step is easy: create a policy.
Create a policy and set expectations for disruptive parents.
This policy should contain rules and expectations that are clear to the parents and everyone on your team. Think about what’s ultimately best for the kids and what parent disruptions take away from them.
Some other things to consider:
- What’s the best form of communication between parents and instructors? Phone or text?
- Should that communication take place before or after class?
- Do your parents need to stay off the floor during class? Or out of the room completely?
Brainstorm policy ideas with your team. Have a conversation about common issues that come up with parents. Consider the things that you wish you could tell parents and how to best present those issues.
Don’t forget about how will the parents will respond to your language. Reword it from their perspective. It’s less about fixing their behavior, it’s more about allowing their kids to get the most out of class.
Create a sign for the policy and make sure it’s well worded.
Using a platform like Canva or Microsoft Word, create a visually appealing sign that contains the entire policy, using language that would best appeal to the parents.
Be sure to break up main points into bullets that are easy to read, skim, and retain. Language should be fun and appealing. Bold important words, use color, and graphics.
Be sure that this sign is not being presented as “rules to follow”. Instead find another important factor, like safety, that the parents can connect with.
In the end it’s all about setting up the best foundation possible for class.
Put the sign somewhere parents can see it.
Don’t put it by the gym door where they are running in and out.
Consider places where parents are often congregating either before or after class. The most important things are that it’s clearly visible and easy to read.
The place to start is from the beginning, so also include it your welcome packet for parents when they first sign up.
Be sure to also share it with your community online: your website, social media, and in email newsletters.
Practice the expectations every day.
You can’t just put a sign up and expect that it’s going to be effective. You need to make sure that everyone is aware that this is a new policy and how the environment is going to be running. The tone must be set.
Share it with your staff, and role play how to discuss with parents.
If issues come up and a parent disrupts class: you or the coach needs to say something.
Make the policy appeal to the parents.
Consider what appeals most to parents: their children. So make sure that the policy, it’s enforcement, and the distribution is all about their child. Even a disruptive parent can rally around that!
At every step of the way, show the parents how these guidelines set up to give their children the best and safest experience possible.
Parents at our children’s gym stopped disrupting class… and we were more profitable because of it.
By finding common ground and connecting with the parents in a way that was respectful, we were able to set clear expectations to keep the classroom safe and effective.
This opportunity resulted in an unexpected win for us: by showing the parents how important their children’s safety was to us, they saw how invested we were in their families. This ultimately led them to keep enrolling in classes and making referrals to their friends.
At the end of the day, parents and educators all want to make sure that the kids stay safe. Instead of coming from the perspective of our gym needs, we appealed to the parents most basic instinct: keeping their children safe. While we may have different perspectives on education, we are all (hopefully!) on the same page about safety first.
This is the sign that we made for our classroom. Instead of it looking like a set of rules to follow, it acts as a safety precaution.