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Teacher Parent Conference Tips

10 Tips on How to Conduct a Great Parent/Teacher Conference

Conferences between parents and teachers can provide an outstanding opportunity to find out how your child is doing in the classroom setting. It can also allow parents a one-on-one opportunity to get to know the individual whom you've entrusted with your child even better. Here are 10 tips to make the most of the meeting.

  1. Ask Your Child 

    If your child is old enough to communicate with you about particular wants or desires, ask him what he/she wants you to ask the teacher.

     

  2. Prepare In Advance

    Prepare in advance for the conference. Write down your questions so that you don't forget to ask about something that is important to you.

     

  3. Be On Time

    Teachers create conferences to encourage communications with parents, but their time is as important as yours. Don't expect to arrive 15 minutes late and still achieve everything you wanted to ask. They may have set another conference immediately following yours. Although a 30-minute appointment is the norm, some teachers may have other issues to discuss or request that parents visit the classroom or activity and observe which could take longer. 

     

  4. Be Positive

    Even the strongest partnerships between teachers and parents seem awkward in a formal conference setting. Defuse any nervousness by beginning the conversation in a positive light. Briefly mention a highlight or two of why you and your child feel this arrangement is successful. This serves as an icebreaker and begins the conversation in a positive tone.

     

  5. Stay On Topic

    This conference is about your child, not you, and concerns the present and not the past. Sounds simple, but the truth is parents will often start the conference talking about their own childhood, another sibling, or other matters that have nothing to do about the topic at hand. Remember, this is your time to talk about your child in the classroom setting.

     

  6. Listen and Be Open Minded

    Let the teacher do the talking. Your job is mainly to listen. A conference is designed first and foremost for teachers to provide parents with information based on observation and daily routines. Remain open minded and receptive to information being presented, and don't become defensive about discussions of behavior or areas that need to be worked on. No child is perfect, so remember that your child’s teacher would not be bringing it up if she did not feel the information had value.

     

  7. Maintain Poise and Professionalism

    Sometimes teachers have the unpleasant job of discussing not-so-nice behaviors or unacceptable incidents. Refrain from taking it personally, and don't become angry or upset. If you feel there is another reason for your child's behavior or action and you feel the teacher has not done something correctly, this is the time to speak up and address those concerns. But be sure to do so in a respectful and professional manner. Be sure to listen to any explanation.

     

  8. Take Notes

    Take notes during your conference. You should receive a completed conference form on your child that is left with you following a conference. Notes help you remember the high points and areas of concern, and to help work on those behaviors for improvement. Remember, the conference also serves to talk all about the areas your child is doing right, and you want to reinforcement those achievements.

     

  9. Express & Show Appreciation

    Be sure to thank your child's teacher for all she does for your child, not just at conferences, but throughout the year. Appreciation does not have to be in the form of a gift; a thoughtful thank-you note or helping out at a special activity shows how much your care. Be sure to express thanks for the conference itself and the open dialogue that is fostered.

     

  10. Set Follow-Ups and Future Feedback

If your child's teacher has suggested some activities or corrective courses of actions, be sure to ask her to provide feedback. If sharing is an issue, ask for a report over the coming weeks. You can ask for a conference at any time, and establishing this open and ongoing communication tool fosters a stronger relationship all around.


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