I love working with teachers, and one thing they consistently tell me upon learning that I have a blog for parents is that they wish the parents of their students took better advantage of parent-teacher meetings and parent-teacher conferences. At many schools this happens once per year and as need if a student is doing poorly. Here are a few tips from teachers on how to make use of this valuable time:
Parent-Teacher Conference Tips:
1. Bring the Right Materials
Come prepared with pen and paper. You also might want to gather reports from previous years or any testing you have done for your child. This will help you bring home notes and help catch your teacher up to speed.
2. Look at Examples
You should also try to bring a date book, planner and any previous reports or homework’s you have questions about. Often times you can ask the teacher if there are any particularly busy weeks or important projects coming up and put them in your calendar so you can be prepared for a stressful week for your child. Bringing in old graded tests and essays can also help if you have questions for the teacher on requirements, styles or areas that need improvement.
3. Talk to your child first
Often times students are nervous about asking questions themselves and might prefer for you to ask. In addition, it is a good idea to ask your student if there is anything they want to tell you before you meet with the teacher (bad grades, disciplinary action, etc). This helps you come in prepared. Teachers do not like to be the bearer of surprise bad news.
4. Make a game plan
If the teacher asked you to come in for a certain reason or if you came in with a concern. Come up with an action plan before leaving the room. Do you need to get a tutor? Are there certain books you can buy? Should seats be moved away from distracting friends? This will help both parties feel more secure and make the most out of the time.
5. Treat it like a business meeting
Many teachers have told me that it is really important for parents to show up on time and dress for a meeting. This helps everyone take issues more seriously.
6. Everyone is on the same side
It can be tricky when parents get defensive. Remember that everyone is one the same side—to help the student do the best they can. Be sure to listen as well as talk and remain open-minded. If it feels antagonistic, be sure to send a thank you note after the meeting and follow-up with emails confirming the action plan details.
Parent teacher conferences offer a great opportunity for parents to get to know their child’s teacher and to hear about how their student is doing in the classroom.