Helpful Hints for a Successful Parent Teacher Conference
Suggestions for Ensuring a Stress-Free Parent Teacher Conference
Parent teacher conferences are a key component to a successful school year for the student, the teacher and parents. Conferences are often the only formal time parents and teachers have all year to sit down and team up for student success. With such a limited time to meet (often less than 25 minutes), it is important that everyone is prepared for the conference. Preparation will also help keep conferences from feeling rushed and stressful for everyone involved. Follow these best-practice prep tips for teachers and for parents for productive conferences.
Prior to conference week, send home information about upcoming conferences and communicate to parents the importance of attending. Be specific about what you will be discussing and sharing in the meeting and tell parents you are looking forward to seeing them. Ask parents to write down their concerns and questions about their child or school policies and return them before the conference.
Offer appointments over a couple of weeks before school, in the morning, in the afternoon, and if possible, in the evening after work to accommodate different schedules. If a parent is unable to attend in person, propose a phone or video conference.
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Here are some more tips for teachers to facilitate a successful parent teacher conference:
- To help with time management, send home a conference agenda or outline ahead of time so parents know what to expect, as well as copies of assessments for parents to review and prepare questions.
- Start the conference with positive information about the student but be sure to give an accurate evaluation of students' progress.
- Discuss progress and growth using classwork examples or test/assessment results.
- Review any concerns or subjects where the child is not advancing as expected.
- Ask parents their observations and listen to feedback, encourage questions.
- Provide suggestions for activities and tactics to boost learning at home.
- Set specific goals for the student, create an action plan with steps you propose for improvement, and let parents know when you will next update them on their child’s progress.
- End the conference with a positive note about the student (they are helpful to others, respectful in class, etc.)
- Thank the parents for taking the time to attend the conference.
- After the conference, follow-up with your students to reassure them and develop an action plan for addressing parent concerns.
Make the most out of your Parent Teacher Conference time by following this helpful checklist to maximize the effectiveness of the conference for both you and your child’s teacher.
Before the conference, ask your child how they feel about school, how they think they are doing in class, and if there is anything they want you to talk about with their teacher.
Because time is so limited, before you go into the meeting, identify in advance issues that are of greatest interest or concern and prepare a list of questions to ask the teacher, for example:
- Is my child reaching his/her potential?
- Where does my child excel? need to improve?
- Does my child participate in class and hand in homework on time?
- How does my child get along with classmates?
- What sorts of things can I do at home to keep my child motivated about his/her schoolwork?
Here are some tips for parents to help promote a smooth parent teacher conference:
- Be on time for the meeting and be respectful of others by ending the meeting on schedule. If you feel you need more time, see if you can schedule a call or meeting later to finish your discussion.
- Wait to react. It can be difficult not to jump to your child’s defense if there are issues at school – stay calm during the conference so you can fully listen to what your child’s teacher has to say before responding.
- Ask for explanations of anything you don't understand and be sure to (respectfully) speak up if there is something you disagree with.
- Ask your child's teacher for ways that you can help your child at home and create an action plan.
- Thank the teacher.
- After the conference, discuss with your child what the teacher had to say – talk about the encouraging details and be direct about any challenges.
- Follow up with the teacher, if needed.
When it comes to helping students succeed in school, parents and teachers are on the same team. Following these tips can help create a positive parent-teacher relationship and help ensure that students have a successful year.