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The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other

3.62  ·  Rating Details ·  186 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
With the insights she has gleaned from her close and subtle observation of parent-teacher conferences, renowned Harvard University professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has written a wise, useful book about the ways in which parents and teachers can make the most of their essential conversation—the dialogue between the most vital people in a child’s life.

“The essential convers
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Ballantine Books (first published 2003)
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Feb 03, 2013 Lorette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: for-school
This book should be given to every new teacher when they enter the workforce. Wonderfully, thoughtfully, and sensitively written, a qualitative accounting of how teachers and parents approach each other in the borderlands, the pitfalls, and some of the reasons why. I was especially impressed with some of the grayer areas that I have happened upon myself: the change in relating to parents after becoming a parent, some of the differences in working with parents of identified Special needs students ...more
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With the insights she has gleaned from her close and subtle observation of parent-teacher conferences, renowned Harvard University professor Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot has written a wise, useful book about the ways in which parents and teachers can make the most of their essential conversation—the dialogue between the most vital people in a child’s life.

“The essential conversation” is the crucial exchange that occurs between parents and teachers—a dialogue that takes place more than one hundred mil
Gina Marie c
Jun 26, 2015 Gina Marie c rated it it was ok
While this book offers some great suggestions about how to improve and enrich conversations between teachers and parents, it is hard to accept the anti-feminist perspective in the second to last chapter. No teacher (or person for that matter) should ever feel like they cannot be successful at their job because they are not a mother. I cannot imagine how a male teacher feels after reading this chapter.
Oct 26, 2008 Kameka rated it really liked it
I'm a fan of SLL so perhaps I'm not the most unbiased person to write this review. In typical SLL style, this book uses stories to make its point. A very good book and a must read for all those who teach children in any way as well as the parents who raise them.
Sarah Adamson
Jun 02, 2017 Sarah Adamson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction-text
This book should be read by every teacher and by every parent.
Whilst not everything in the book applies to everyone and whilst some of the descriptions and suggestions will definitely not work for some people, this book gives a lot of information and ideas for teachers and parents to consider when approaching the issue of the child's education.
Most of the concepts discussed have a lot of merit to me. We all go to parent-teacher conferences with expectations and ideas, but also with our own pers
May 15, 2011 Bridget rated it did not like it
So far I'm not enjoying this. The author polled ten teachers - all female - for the basis of the book. It isn't an unbiased collection. Since she is addressing the communication that exists between teachers and parents, I would have liked to read excerpts from parents as well. The only parental view she brings to the book is her own, which invalidates the entire premise of the book. Plus, the author is a social scientist, which absolutely makes her an expert on how teachers and parents should co ...more
Oct 04, 2013 Sharon rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. It's not a quick read, nor a light one, but well-written and thought-provoking. As a parent, I felt like I recognized, "Yes! That IS what I look for in a teacher!" and as a teacher it made me determined to be ever-conscious of how I can improve my relationship with my students and their parents. I found Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot's qualitative, anecdotal approach a good fit for the topic -- it kept my interest and reflected that a good teacher can't be defined through quantit ...more
Nov 19, 2007 Anne rated it liked it
I like the idea that parents and teachers need to communicate better. I also liked several of the annecdotes that illustrated the point. However, I also felt that the point was made relatively quickly and not quite so many pages were necessary to make the argument. I also felt a little alienated by the chapter about mothering and teaching - that good teachers only became that way once they had children. I believe I have had several good teachers who were not mothers (including lots of men) and t ...more
Jul 25, 2008 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Stephanie by: Anne Sinclair
Good food for thought which ended even better than I thought it would because it affirmed that us Special Education teachers consistently and unconsciously do is wildly important for all students: capitalize on strengths and identify and work on needs. Gave me a few concrete ideas that i would like to try in a classroom as well as something to ponder as the years go by: can a teacher who is not a mother ever truly empathize with her students? I always thought yes, but this book got me thinking.. ...more
Victoria Young
May 10, 2013 Victoria Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If this book isn't part of teacher's education materials across this country, it should be! It is an easy to read book that not only makes its points about parent-teacher "conferences" but is written in such a style as to allow existing teachers to reflect, self-assess, and improve their interactions with, and relationships to, the parents of their students.

The stories Dr. Lawrence-Lightfoot tells of her actual observations and interviews with a variety of teachers will entertain, make you laugh
Torsten Schwarz
Jul 23, 2013 Torsten Schwarz rated it it was ok
Lawrence-Lightfoot provides a great deal of insight into patent-teacher communication, reasons why it often is unsuccessful, and how to establish effective, child-centered communicative practices with parents. As a male teacher, I found that the text's main weaknesses are that the author only provides insight from female teachers, and most of Lawrence-Lightfoot's anecdotes are drawn almost exclusively from teachers' experiences working in elite primary and secondary institutions.
Apr 07, 2015 Maura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
This book is a little dated at this point. Email communication between parents and teaches is a novel (and not yet) widely embraced development. It also wasn't the book I had hoped for: practical advice on having a decent parent teacher conference.

However, it was an excellent overview and set of insights into how a group of master teachers approached parent communication.

Amy Gonzalez
Aug 25, 2013 Amy Gonzalez rated it liked it
Recommended to Amy by: co-worker
Shelves: teaching, non-fiction
An important book about empathy and trust being essential to having productive dialogues between parents and teachers. Very wordy though, and I agree with other reviewers who said it could have been shorter.
Terri D.
Jun 07, 2010 Terri D. is currently reading it
I've been "reading" this book for three months. What can I say, it's boring. There is just something about the discipline of sociology that puts me to sleep. It may stay on the coffee table forever without me finishing it.
Oct 10, 2011 Samantha rated it really liked it
A great book that outlines the challenges that teachers and parents face when interacting in the classroom. The issues are explained by mini case studies. If you are a new teacher or studying to be a teacher, I highly recommend it. It is slow in some parts, but very informative.
Aug 20, 2007 Amanda rated it really liked it
This book is for people who really like to read about parent-teacher conferences, so much so that they will read a book that is only about parent-teacher conferences.
Mar 18, 2014 Ilib4kids marked it as to-read
371.192 LAW
Sep 26, 2013 Kevin rated it really liked it
Excellent book that all teachers should read (especially before parent-teacher conferences). I would even recommend it to parents!
Aug 03, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it
This is a good read for new teachers. It really puts parent/teacher relationships into perspective.
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Mar 17, 2013 Jonna Higgins-Freese rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tried-but-quit
I've tried to read this twice and it's so raw and close to the bone that I can't.
Jul 23, 2010 Kelsey marked it as to-read
recommend by Tracy Williams
Jun 09, 2009 Burnt is currently reading it
still reading. this book is making me more nervous than i used to be about parent teacher conversations. cripes.
Jul 31, 2014 Sara rated it liked it
Shelves: education
Interesting but you hVe to dig to find practical information. Missing the perspective of a mLe teacher-- all were female.
Apr 24, 2013 Claire rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pedagogy
This book outlined the often confusing relationship between parents and teachers.
Nov 22, 2014 Tova rated it it was amazing
Shelves: education
I have to figure out how to get parents and teachers together for a book club discussion about this book.
Aug 01, 2008 Dominique rated it really liked it
This book takes you through the do's and dont's of having an effective parent conference. Good book, not a great read.
Jun 12, 2015 Gwen rated it liked it
Great ideas and thoughts for teachers hoping to improve relationships with parents.
libby rated it really liked it
Mar 03, 2008
Amanda Jean
Amanda Jean rated it liked it
Apr 13, 2016
Emily rated it liked it
Feb 06, 2016
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Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot is an American sociologist who examines the culture of schools, the patterns and structures of classroom life, socialization within families and communities, and the relationships between culture and learning styles. She has been a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education since the 1970s.
More about Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot...

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