12 ways to make this parent/teacher conference the best ever
Dr, Thomas Haller
By Thomas Haller
It's parent/teacher time. Yes, it's time to go to school and talk to the teacher directly about your child and how he is responding to the curriculum, the teacher and his peers.
Whether you are looking forward to this opportunity or not there are some important things to take into consideration to help make this venture to school a productive one.
Consider the following guidelines when participating in parent/teacher conferences.
Talk to your child ahead of time. Get her input. Does she have a favorite subject? A least favorite one? What does she like best about this teacher? Ask if there is any topic your child would like you to talk about with this teacher. Make sure your child knows before you head to school that you and the teacher are meeting with her best interests in mind.
Plan ahead. You probably have 10-20 minutes at best to meet with your child's teacher. To make sure those are productive minutes make a list of the questions you want to ask and the information you would like to share about your child's hobbies, interests, personality, etc.
Set priorities. Keep it simple. Pick one or two questions that are most important to you. Zero in on one thing you most want to the teacher to know about your child. You will not have time to explore a long agenda. If you have real concerns about the education process, the teacher, your child or the discipline policy it is best to schedule a private conference at a later time.
Manage your mind on the way to the school. Re-mind yourself that this trip to school will be for the benefit of your child. Make a BE choice. How do you intend to BE during this conference? Choose to BE helpful, curious, interested, informative, friendly, or collaborative. How you choose to BE will structure the tone and tenor of the conference. Your BE choice will greatly influence the end result.
Prepare a friendly opening. Thank the teacher for preparing for this meeting. Tell him something nice your child said about him. Tell him you know this is a busy day for him and how much you appreciate him working this hard for the benefit of his students.
Listen. One of your main purposes is to gather information about the teacher, the school and most importantly, your child. You can't get that information if you do all the talking. This teacher has important information to tell you. Be sure you hear it. Write it down if necessary.
Ask your most important question. It might be about academic expectations or behavior. It could be finding out how your child will be evaluated and if and how test results are used as part of the instructional process. You could ask about child's learning style, the teacher's homework policy or the discipline policy. You will NOT have time to get all your questions answered so lead with the most important one first.
Remember, no one knows your child better than you. If you have information about how your child learns best or what interests him, share it.
If the teacher has a problem with your child do not get angry, apologetic, or take things personally. Ask for examples of the problem the teacher is sharing. Ask what has been done so far. Ask what steps will be taken next. Ask how you can help.
You will not have time to develop an action plan if your child needs help academically or behaviorally. Schedule a follow-up conference so you can discuss specific steps that will be taken by you, your child, and the teacher.
Share your appreciation at the end of the conference. Tell the teacher specifically what you liked about the way the conference was conducted.
Debrief with your child as soon as possible. Alleviate any anxiety your child might have about the conference by sharing what was discussed. Do this while the information is still fresh in your mind. Ask for her reaction and opinion about what was discussed. Share any plans you have that will impact her life. Tell your child the nice things her teacher said about her.
Preparation is the key. Use the 12 guidelines above and prepare to have the most productive parent/teacher conference ever.