Getting the Most Out Of A Parent/Teacher Conference
Most everything you know about your child’s teacher – and your child’s school day – comes from the mouth of your child. A parent/teacher conference is an excellent way to learn more about where your child spends most of his or her day and how they are succeeding in school. Additionally, a parent/teacher conference is an ideal time to form a strong connection with your child’s teacher that can last throughout the school year. (Also read about student lead parent/teacher conferences).
Here are a few tips on getting the most out of your parent/teacher conference:
Take a notepad. Before you leave for the conference, write down any questions or topics that you would like to cover during the meeting. During the conference, take down notes and any other important information. Having notes will ensure that you won’t forget to ask a questions during the conference and that you can review the main points of the meeting later.
Be prompt. While you are attending only one or two parent/teacher conferences, your child’s teacher is probably conducting dozens – and perhaps after his or her normal work hours. Show up to your appointment a few minutes early and do not go over your allotted time slot.
Share family events that might be affecting your child. This is an ideal time to let your child’s teacher know about any big changes in the child’s home environment. Take a moment to share news even if it is difficult to talk about: a divorce, a dying grandparent, unemployment, a new sibling, or a recent move. Teachers do not get these important insights into their students often, and it can make a big difference if your child’s teacher is aware.
Open with a compliment. At the beginning of the meeting, share honest and candid praise for the teacher’s work – even if it is something small. Your child’s teacher is vital to your child’s education and your appreciation is very meaningful to them. Especially if you are planning on making critical remarks later in the meeting, an opening compliment will let the teacher know that you are not making personal attacks.
Stay calm. Your child is extremely important to you and you may be very sensitive when others are speaking about your child’s issues or weaknesses. Realize that your child’s teacher has the best intentions and is working to maximize your child’s achievement and school experience.
Ask how you can help. The entire meaning behind parent/teacher conferences is to better involve parents in their children’s education. This meeting is the ideal time to ask how you can help your child achieve more or how you can become more involved in the school community.
Ask for the school's parent involvement policy. As a component of the school-level parental involvement policy mandated by federal law Title I, each school served under this part shall jointly develop with parents for all children served under this part a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, the entire school staff, and students will share the responsibility for improved student achievement and the means by which the school and parents will build and develop a partnership to help children achieve the State's high standards.
Talk to you child before and after the meeting. In the days before your conference, ask your child if he or she has any questions or concerns and if any specific topics should be discussed. After the conference, review the meeting with your child, sharing both the good news and the opportunities for improvement.
Written by Elliott Shostak for Project Appleseed