Parent - Teacher Conferences
It is that time of year again. It’s time for Spring Parent/Teacher Conferences. They will be held this Thursday and Friday. Thursday the conferences will take place between 4-8pm and on Friday they will be 8am-noon.
What is a Parent Teacher Conference?
A parent-teacher conference is a short meeting between the parents and teachers of students to discuss children's progress at school and find solutions to academic and/or behavioral problems.
There are several ways parents can contribute to making the conference a productive and informative meeting. Here are a number of helpful strategies for you to keep in mind at your upcoming conference, and throughout the school year.
Mark your calendar. For families where the parents are separated or divorced, and if there are step-parents, try to ensure that everyone is included whenever possible. If you or another parent does not speak fluent English, bring an interpreter with you to help expedite the conversation. The goal is for all parties involved to be aware of what's happening in the classroom.
It's likely that the conference will flow smoothly and the teacher will jump right in and kick off a constructive discussion. Still, it can't hurt to have a few questions in your back pocket, in case he or she doesn't hit all of the points you're hoping will be addressed. Here are a few examples.
- What do you see as my child's strengths and weaknesses?
- What can we do at home to help maintain progress and success?
- At what point will we hear from you if you sense a problem?
Start with a team-player approach.
Approach challenges or issues the teacher raises with the attitude of "We have to address this problem as partners." This makes coming up with solutions considerably easier for everyone involved -- objectivity will be key.
Keep the teacher informed.
Teachers love-and appreciate-knowing what's going on with your child, both at the time of the conference and beyond. It's important to keep him or her up on any changes in your child's life, such as medications, family problems, if it's a dual-home family, or if a family member went into the hospital. For example, "Sometimes a child starts acting up in class, and the teacher thinks it's just a behavior problem, but doesn't realize that Grandpa had a heart attack this weekend."
Express interest in being an involved parent.
Whether you work fulltime or part-time, involvement is about making decisions and staying aware of what's happening within your child's education, not just about who's able to chaperone field trips.
Respect the teacher's time.
Don't plan on taking up too much time during the conference. You might have questions after the meeting ends, and even in the days that follow. Before you leave, ask the teacher, "How do you prefer that we contact you-after school, via email, with a phone call?" Keeping a list of your questions and concerns can help you organize your thoughts so you can approach the teacher effectively whenever necessary. If you have a specific concern after the conference, definitely let the teacher know. Say something like, "I have some questions about this issue. When would be a good time for you to contact me?"
Teachers really do understand how you feel about your child. They realize the majority of the day they have your precious child with them.
This partnership is the basis of the entire conference, and, ultimately, a long-term alliance. Success comes out of recognition that the teacher is an educational professional, and that your child is a complex entity who is different in different locations, from home to school.
Your goal is to leave the conference feeling confident in your child's teacher and you are working together for the best interest of your child.