Parent-teacher conferences offer great opportunities to deepen your working relationship with the teacher. It’s a time set aside once a year to highlight student strengths, discuss academic or social concerns, and share information about child development. A little thinking and planning will help you make the most of this great opportunity.
Respect Everyone’s Time
Get off to the right start: come to the conference on time. Remember that other parents also have conferences scheduled for that day. Plan on ending the conference at the scheduled time so other parents can start their conference on time.
Assume the Best
Everyone makes assumptions. Assume the best instead of the worst and ask clarifying questions.
Relax and be yourself. Remember that you and the teacher both the want the same thing: the very best for your child.
Communicate anything about your child or your family that might be helpful for the teacher to know, especially if it may be affecting your child’s learning.
Start with a Positive
If you have a difficult subject to discuss with the teacher start and end with a positive. Stick with the facts. Be as specific as possible and give clear examples. Know what your goal is and come prepared with some possible solutions.
Stay calm during the conference. Respectful communication will be the most effective way to work together with your child’s teacher. Getting angry or upset during the conference will make it very difficult to have a positive conversation.
Respectfully Discuss Differences of Opinion
If you disagree with the teacher, respectfully explain why you disagree. If you don’t let the teacher know about your differences of opinion, the teacher may think that you agree and will move on to the next topic. Discussing your differences with the teacher may help both of you find a more effective way to help your child.
Ask for Explanations of Anything you don’t Understand
Speak up. The teacher can’t know your concerns unless you tell them. You aren’t bothering them. They want to hear from you. It is always best to go directly to the teacher first and if possible meet in person if you have questions or concerns. You are a partner in your child’s education. Listen carefully to what the teacher says. If you don’t understand something that the teacher talks about (such as an educational term or an explanation of a school policy), don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. It is important for you to understand what your child’s teacher is telling you.
Ask the Most Important Questions Early in the Conference
Ask the most important questions first as you may run out of time, especially if other parents are waiting to have their conference after yours. You can always schedule another meeting with the teacher to cover any points you don’t get to.
Create an Action Plan
Ask your child’s teacher for specific suggestions of ways that you can help your child at home with homework, reading, organization, routines, behavioral issues, etc. Make sure you understand the teacher’s suggestions, and ask for clarification if you don’t. This list of suggestions will become the action plan. Establish a way to keep track of the child’s progress, as well as the best way to stay in touch with your child’s teacher — through phone calls, emails, notes, or meetings. Review the action plan with the teacher as you end the conference to make sure that you both have the same expectations.
Thank the Teacher for Meeting With You
Thank the teacher for their time and support of your child, as well as for anything specific that they have done to help your child.
After the Parent Teacher Conference
- Stay in contact with your child’s teacher. Keep lines of communication open.
- Take action. Be proactive. When you have a question or concern go directly to the teacher immediately. Don’t wait until the frustration level has maxed or discuss the problem with other parents without going to the teacher first. Teachers can’t fix what they aren’t aware of. Face to face is always better for bigger issues.
- Assume the best.
- If you are available, offer to help the teacher (make copies, cut things out, sort papers, help with a group activity etc.).
- Let your child’s teacher know they are appreciated.
- Practice and/or seek forgiveness when needed. None of us are perfect.
- Remember to love well. I Cor. 13.
- Put the fruit of the spirit into practice. Love, joy, peace, patience, etc.
- Get involved. There are several volunteer opportunities available.
- Pray for your child’s teacher/class/school/administrators as a family.