Some parents love them, others dread them, and some think they’re just a waste of time. But the fact remains, a parent-teacher conference is important to a child’s success in the classroom. It’s simple really. Teachers can better meet your child’s needs if they are fully aware of what’s going on in his life. Likewise, parents can more effectively help and encourage their child if they understand the expectations and instructional strategies of the teacher.
Good communication between parents and teachers is absolutely essential. Moms and Dads need to be “in the loop” with regard to what’s going on in their children’s classrooms and the teacher’s expectations. At the same time, teachers are better able to meet the needs of each student if they understand his or her personality, strengths, and weaknesses.
Make time for (at least) a couple of conferences with your child’s teacher each school year. Even if they aren’t required by your school, your child will benefit from the information you gain and that which you provide. Here are 5 keys to a great parent-teacher conference.
1. Go in with a positive attitude
Your teacher is on your team! She wants to see your child succeed and will likely welcome information which helps her in the mission. Even if your child has struggled in the past, see each conference as a fresh start, full of possibilities.
2. Do your homework
Teachers and administrators often send home reams of communication about school policies and classroom procedures, only to find themselves reiterating the same information to parents who never read the memos. With these basics out of the way, your precious conference time can be spent focusing on the particular needs and goals for your child.
3. Get Focused with iMOM’s Teacher Conference Worksheet
It’s a bit like a doctor’s appointment. You have a set amount of time and a million questions you want to cover. Make sure you discuss the most pressing issues by looking over the worksheet before your conference. During the conference, use it to take notes.
4. Respect the teacher’s schedule
The school day is jam-packed with instructional demands with little room for error. Be on time for your conference and wrap it up as scheduled. Also, don’t bring your other children. You’ll never be able to concentrate (and neither will your teacher) if you’re wrestling a toddler the whole time.
5. See the opportunity in the conflict
Even if your conference is born out of some conflict or negative circumstance, see it as a chance to grow as a parent or to help your child’s teacher broaden her understanding of your child. Even if you feel like your child has been treated unfairly, or that the teacher hasn’t made all the right choices, these scenarios are part of life. Look for positives, and don’t act defensive or accusatory.
6. Follow Up
Once your conference is over, jot your teacher a note of thanks for her time. Go over your filled in Teacher Conference Worksheet with your husband. Look over past conference notes to spot patterns and how your child has progressed. Finally, discuss the conference with your child. Talk about the things they’re doing well and the things they need to work on.