The parent-teacher conference can be a stressful experience for everyone involved. After all, it is not often that parents and teachers have the opportunity to interact face to face, sharing needs, concerns, and all things important with regard to their student’s education. But like any other event in life, the parent-teacher conference can serve as a smooth-running, positive experience when underpinned with a little planning and a few time-tested strategies. This article provides 10 proven teacher tips that will make your parent-teacher conference a successful endeavor and has special advice for situations involving multiple teachers. These tips are based on the experiences of veteran secondary teachers, and are proven ways to make the parent-teacher conference an effective event. The top ten parent-teacher conference checklist is:
1. Create a comfortable and private physical environment for your parent conference to take place. It is also a good idea to meet your parents at the door if possible, and to walk them to the door when finished. This shows professionalism and increases levels of comfort.
2. Determine in advance who will serve as the conference facilitator to keep the conference on task and decide who will serve as a recorder for a conference summary.
3. Contact the office for assistance if a teacher who was expected to be present is missing. Begin the meeting on time with those who are present, ensuring that the full allotment of time is utilized. It is also important to involve other school staff members when an issue discussed involves their work with the child.
4. Introduce everyone; open with a brief non-school comment to relax parents. Keep in mind that you are meeting with partners, not opponents.
5. Set a time limit for each contributing teacher to ensure equity and a focused conference. The facilitator should encourage all participants to respect time limits.
6. Establish priorities. Pick one or two areas for growth and improvement so that parents are not overwhelmed. Do not compare students or class periods. Make sure to use everyday language, avoiding teacher-speak and academic jargon.
7. Emphasize the positive. Open the conference with a comment on the child’s special qualities and strengths. Encourage the parent and student by focusing on areas where the child is succeeding.
8. Make sure to listen. Allow parents ample time to express their concerns, ideas and questions. Effective communication is a two way street. Establish a partnership with parents.
9. Provide concrete suggestions for how the parents and teachers can work together to assist the child. Be clear and concise, making sure that any decisions made are mutually agreed upon with an appropriate timetable and recorded.
10. Keep accurate conference notes signed at the end by all parties and then provide the parents with a copy before they leave. Thank the parents and reiterate your availability for any future questions or concerns, and share specific ways you can be contacted.
Tom & Daisy Bradwell