Conducting Effective Conferences with Parents of Children with Disabilities

A Guide for Teachers

Milton Seligman

March 11, 2000
ISBN 9781572305373
Price: $40.00
303 Pages
Size: 6" x 9"

Successful collaboration between teachers and parents can greatly enhance children's educational growth and development. This clearly written book provides teachers with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct effective conferences with parents of children with disabilities. Readers gain a solid understanding of the challenges that families face as a consequence of childhood disability; how family dynamics and roles are affected; and issues that are likely to arise in meetings with school professionals. Reviewing the basic elements of parent-teacher conferencing, Seligman highlights ways to establish rapport with families, develop strong listening and responding skills, and engage parents who may feel anxious, frustrated, or angry. Also addressed are the specific requirements of the legally mandated Individualized Educational Program conference. Enhancing the book's utility are numerous concrete examples and sample parent-teacher dialogues, as well as role-play scenarios and exercises to build conferencing skills. The Appendix describes a range of disability-related referral sources and publications suitable for recommendation to parents.

“This book is very much needed in the teacher preparation field; not only for special educators, but also for regular educators, who are increasingly involved with the families of students with disabilities. Very well written and well documented, it combines the theoretical and the practical and can be used as either a primary or a supplementary text. The book's coverage of how to improve communication with parents during the Individualized Education Program process will be particularly useful for teachers who must navigate this emotionally complex interaction on a regular basis.”

—Charles M. Cohen, PhD, Supervisor of Rehabilitation and Psychology, Pittsburgh, PA Public Schools

“The parent-teacher conference is a critical time for teachers to establish true partnerships with parents. Such partnerships are beneficial for all students, but are especially important for children with disabilities. This book helps teachers understand the unique concerns of parents of children with disabilities, access and maximize family resources, develop a relationship with parents which includes two-way communication and mutual respect, and work with parents to enhance children's success. All K-12 teachers and teachers-in-training will benefit from the guidelines and strategies in this book. It will also be useful as a text for courses in regular and special education, school psychology, and school counseling. In addition, the concept of school staff working more collaboratively with parents is currently being developed as a new competency for credentialing requirements. This book would help credentialing programs educate and train their students in how to develop this very important competency.”

—Bonnie S. Ho, EdD, Department of Educational Psychology, California State University, Hayward

“This book is a powerful tool that will help teachers develop the many complex skills required for successful meetings with parents. I attend many parent meetings (school support team, disciplinary, special education IEP and eligibility meetings) where the weaknesses of the student are overemphasized, the focus gets sidetracked, or miscommunication and power struggles arise between parents and the school. This book offers a more balanced approach, enabling professionals to address both the strengths and weaknesses of students with disabilities and work toward involving parents as part of a collaborative team. It will serve as a text in advanced undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in education, school psychology, and school social work and counseling.”

—Paula Freer, PhD, Certified School Social Worker and School Psychologist, Licensed Psychologist; Coordinator of Psychology Services, Troup County Schools, Georgia

Table of Contents

1. Families and the Schools

2. Parents and Teachers: Reciprocal Views

3. Family Dynamics: An Overview

4. Family Reaction to Childhood Disability

5. Basic Principles of Interviewing

6. Useful Specific Strategies in Working with Parents of Children with Disabilities

7. The Individualized Education Program Conference

8. Working with Challenging Parents

Appendix: Resources for Teachers to Help Parents

About the Author

Milton Seligman, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair, Counseling Psychology Program, University of Pittsburgh.


Teachers in regular and special education settings; school psychologists, counselors, and administrators; inservice trainers and instructional support specialists; graduate-level students of education and school psychology.

Serves as a text in teacher training courses and courses for educational administrators.

Course Use

Serves as a text in teacher training courses and courses for educational administrators.