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Article of Interest - Book Review

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Bridges4Kids LogoThe Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other

Author: Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot  (Random House, 288 pages, $24.95)

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Interview: Conference Calls
Review by David Ruenzel of Teacher Magazine, September 2003
 

Few occasions make teachers and parents more apprehensive than the fall conference, during which they warily eye one another, wondering what possible schemes are being hatched. In The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn From Each Other (Random House), Harvard education Professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot explores the roots of this anxiety. Teachers worry they'll be charged with not doing enough for the child, while parents fret about hearing criticisms from someone who doesn't yet know their kid. As a result, both parties too often leave conferences feeling dissatisfied.

In her new book, Lawrence-Lightfoot—author of numerous volumes on school- community relations—demonstrates how the parent-teacher divide can be bridged, if not resolved, through the stories of 10 female teachers who've been effective at this kind of work. Their approaches vary, but the teachers are all excellent listeners who glean from parents detailed views that help them work more effectively with students in the classroom.

Reached by phone at Harvard, Lawrence-Lightfoot spoke about the many misconceptions shared by teachers and parents, including the idea that students should not be present at conferences.

For more of this review and a Q and A with the author, click here.

   

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