Parent-teacher conferences are the best way for open dialogue with parents. The opportunity to sit down together and discuss each student’s successes and challenges helps boost parental involvement and can lead to increased home support.
Typically, conferences are held a few times a year. They provide an opportunity for teachers to share academic progress, classroom observations, testing scores and assessments, and work portfolios.
Conferences are a time to discuss a student’s’ strengths, needs, and even essential insights into learning styles. Together, parents and teachers can even create goals and plans to help support students both in class and at home.
While there are many benefits to open lines of communication, a teacher’s ability to run a conference with equal measures of honesty and tact can dictate how valuable they ultimately are for the student. Not all students are flawless in their work and progression. However, there are steps teachers can follow to prepare and execute successful conferences for all.
Importance of Positivity
Start by emphasizing the positives. Parents arrive wanting to learn about their child’s academic progress and growth. They are looking to feel proud of their child’s achievements. Even though a teacher has to talk about the good and the bad, it’s always helpful to emphasize the positives. It helps make the parents feel more comfortable as they hear what the teacher has to say and shows that the teacher is on their side.
Prepare yourself to give a detailed report of the child’s status before the parents arrive. If possible, learn a little about the parent as well to see if they have other children, what kind of work hours they have, etc. Teachers should prepare examples of students’ work, as well as personal anecdotes about each student. Parents are looking for insight into what their child is experiencing in the classroom.
Part of meeting with parents is informing them of areas where students need improvement. This can create anxiety for parents who want to know how to help. Be prepared with tactics and tips to employ at home to help their child make the improvements they need to succeed.
Listen To Their Concerns
While the teacher may be the one leading the conversation, it’s crucial to give parents the opportunity to discuss their thoughts, suggestions, and concerns about their child’s progress. Teachers should ask questions to keep the parent involved in the discussion. Not only does this make parents feel valued, it helps the teacher discover strategies to use based on input from the parents.
Sometimes educators lean on educational lingo to describe what they’re hoping to achieve with lesson plans and expectations. Remember, not all parents understand educational terms. It’s important to be able to clearly explain students’ progress, instructional strategies, and curricula in a way that makes sense.
Show You Care
Parents may be concerned or even worried about the conference. They know the teacher is seeing their child’s skills and abilities at work in a different environment than the home. It’s up to the teacher to show they care about the student’s success as much as the parent, and to create a positive, encouraging atmosphere throughout the discussion. No matter the type of progress and observations a teacher must report, if it is delivered with a sense of thoughtfulness and with the student’s best interests in mind, it will be effective.