How to make the most of teacher conferences

teacher in front of her chalkboardElementary school Parent-Teacher Conferences are happening in September this year instead of waiting to the end of Trimester 1 in November. By bumping up the conferences, we are hoping to work together with you to set goals for success for your child as early as possible. Research shows that partnering with teachers and engaging in your child’s learning improves their achievement and social skills. Here are some helpful tips developed by the National Parent Teacher Association to best prepare for the conference!

  1. Schedule your meeting — Typically, your child’s teacher will contact you when it’s time for parent-teacher conferences and give you dates when you can meet. This gives you time to prepare and schedule the meeting. If you need a translator, sign language interpreter or other help, you may plan for someone to attend the meeting with you.
  2. Talk with your child first — Before your meeting, talk to your child. Find out which subjects your children likes best, and which ones they don’t like — and why. Use National PTA’s Parents’ Guides to Student Success as a tool to help understand a clear, consistent expectations for what students should be learning at each grade level. Sometimes, there is a concern your child doesn’t know how to express themselves, and you may talk about it directly with the teacher.
  3. Create a list of questions —These meetings can go by quickly. The teacher will have a prepared report, so you need to be prepared too. To have a productive two-way conversation, prepare a list of questions so you may leave the meeting with a comprehensive understanding of how your child is doing academically and socially in the classroom and how to address any issues. These questions should provide guidance and outline important talking points.
  4. Listen to the teacher’s perspective, then tell your side — Be open-minded and don’t judge your child’s teacher until you hear their side. A parent-teacher conference shouldn’t be the first time a teacher or parent should learn about a problem, but sometimes it is. It’s hard not to be defensive, but assess the situation before reacting and share any contributing factors, such as a parent divorce, death, bullying or medical issues so the teacher has a full perspective on any issues.
  5. Take notes — Don’t forget your notebook and pen! Jot down possible areas of improvement or positive feedback you want to monitor or talk about when you go back home to your child. It’s also handy if you have several teachers to visit, such as during middle or high school.
  6. Ask to see work samples and other important documents — Parents should ask to see samples of their child’s work and ask about any activities they can do at home with their child to support her learning. Go over any other documents like the syllabus and upcoming projects or events.
  7. Give your contact information — Parents and teachers should schedule a follow-up conference if needed and decide on the best way to stay in touch for progress reports. Consistent communication (via email, phone, etc.) will help build the relationship and address issues immediately.

 

Conference week is September 25-29.

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