Cassie arrived at her daughter's parent-teacher conference feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness. She had always been interested in her daughter's education but didn't know how to get more involved. This year, she had heard about the Parent Engagement Pledge and was determined to sign up.
After discussing her daughter's progress, the teacher brought up the Parent Engagement Pledge. She explained that it was a way for parents to make a commitment to being more involved in their child's education, and asked if Cassie was interested in signing up. Cassie was thrilled and immediately said yes.
The teacher handed Cassie a pledge and a pen, and Cassie signed her name with a sense of pride. She felt like she was taking a concrete step towards making a difference in her daughter's education. The teacher explained that by signing the pledge, Cassie was committing to attending school events, volunteering in the classroom, and staying informed about her daughter's progress.
Cassie left the conference feeling a renewed sense of purpose. She knew that she had a lot to learn, but was excited about the opportunities that lay ahead. As she walked to her car, she noticed other parents leaving the conference, and she couldn't help but wonder how many of them had also signed the Parent Engagement Pledge. She hoped that they would join her in making a commitment to being more involved in their children's education.
Over the next few weeks, Cassie kept the pledge in mind and made an effort to attend school events and volunteer in the classroom. She found that the more she got involved, the more connected she felt to her daughter's education. And when she saw the progress her daughter was making, she knew that signing the pledge was one of the best decisions she had ever made.
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). By working closely with your child's school, you can help them reach their full potential.
Parent-teacher conferences are a vital part of this partnership between home and school. In a recent PTA poll, parents like you have made it clear that they want more opportunities to meet with teachers and discuss their child's progress. Project Appleseed is proud to support these efforts and encourage parents to make the most of these important meetings.
Here's what you can expect during a parent-teacher conference:
A two-way conversation. Parent-teacher conferences should be a time for both parties to share information about your child. Ask to see data on your child's attendance, grades, and test scores, and share your own observations about your child's strengths, interests, needs, and goals.
A focus on learning. The conference should center around your child's academic progress and potential for growth. Before the meeting, review your child's work and make a list of questions for the teacher.
Discussion of opportunities and challenges. Your child's teacher wants them to succeed, and the conference should cover both their strengths and areas for improvement. Be prepared to ask questions about ways you and the teacher can help your child overcome any obstacles they may face.
To prepare for the conference:
Schedule a time to meet with the teacher.
Review your child's work, grades, and progress reports.
Talk to your child and others who know them well to gather information about their strengths and needs.
Make a list of questions for the teacher.
Think about ways you'd like to be involved in your child's education.
During the conference, you'll want to discuss:
Your child's progress and academic performance.
Assignments and assessments.
Your observations and thoughts about your child.
Ways to support learning at home and at school.
After the conference, be sure to:
Write down a plan of action for you and the teacher to support your child.
Schedule another time to talk with the teacher.
Discuss the conference with your child and share what you learned.
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.
Here are some resources for parent-teacher conferences for elementary, middle, and high school students:
GreatSchools: GreatSchools offers advice for parents on how to prepare for and make the most of parent-teacher conferences. https://www.greatschools.org/gk/articles/parent-teacher-conferences/
TeacherVision: TeacherVision helps maximize the benefits of parent-teacher collaborations to serve each child's educational needs. https://www.teachervision.com/teacher-parent-conferences
Edutopia: "5 Resources for Parent-Teacher Conferences", https://www.edutopia.org/blog/parent-teacher-conference-resources-matt-davis
Adapted from Harvard Family Research Project and Elliott Shostak for Project Appleseed