Thursday, October 29, 2015

4 Tips for Productive Parent-Teacher Conferences

Here a four tips to make Parent-Teacher Conferences as productive as possible.

1.  We are on the same team. 
As teachers, parents, and students, we all want the  same thing, which is for the student to reach his or her maximum potential.  While it is easy to start pointing fingers at each other, what is that really going to solve?  The sooner we realize and embrace this idea, the more productive our conversations will be.

2.  Don't focus on the grade.
The grade is simply a letter, or a number, and it is supposed to correlate to how well a student is doing in school.  It will not necessarily correlate to how intelligent or how hard of a worker the student is.  If you are a parent, do not ask the teacher "Why does my child have a bad grade?"  Instead ask, "In what area is my child struggling and what can WE do to help?"  If you focus your conversation on grades, you will not be productive and will leave the meeting feeling frustrated.

3.  Time is short
Some teachers see over 100 students in a day.  In order to meet with as many families as possible, you may only have a 10-15 minute window.  As a parent, have a game plan on what you want to talk about.  You may not get through all of the topics you would like to discuss, so prioritize your list.  Have no idea what to ask?  Here are two questions to consider:

  • What does my child struggle with and how can we help?
  • What does my child do well?
As a teacher, you may be tempted to point out 10 issues that the parent needs to be aware of.  Don't do it.  Prioritize your list and focus on those.

4.  Don't be afraid to follow-up
You likely did not get through all of the topics you wanted to discuss during your conference, so don't hesitate to follow-up with the teacher in a week via note, email, or phone call.  I suggest waiting a week, because teachers are human beings, and they likely just worked two straight 13 hour days when you consider the normal work day and evening conferences.  Almost all teachers are going to be more than willing to continue the conversation.

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