Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences
In the U.S., the Fall and Spring are often times when parents have the formal opportunity to meet with their child’s teachers at Parent-Teacher conferences.
During these brief meetings, parents can learn about their child’s academic progress in school and address any learning or behavior concerns.
I’m a firm believer that children benefit and have a better chance of school success when parents and teachers work as a team.
This year, I asked several of my teacher friends to answer the following question:
What do you wish parents knew when it comes to Parent-Teacher conferences and communication with you overall?
I’ve compiled their answers here:
- Please arrive on time. When you’re late, it can throw off the entire conference schedule. If you arrive five minutes late, expect your meeting to be five minutes shorter, and be understanding of that. If you need to cancel, please contact the teachers before your scheduled time.
- Many parents are nervous about talking to teachers, and don’t recognize that this is difficult for the teacher as well. Don’t forget to smile!
- Be prepared. Know your child’s teachers’ names, what subjects they teach, and what grades your child has received (this information is now widely available to parents online).
- Trust that we have your child’s best academic interests at heart.
- Data and facts are collected in order to create and share an objective picture of a student’s work performance.
- Students will inevitably progress when parents and teachers are in sync about what a student needs, and about the next best steps to take. This is why it’s so important for parents and teachers to establish a positive, collaborative relationship, and become equal partners in helping children succeed.
- We offer suggestions that may help students to become more successful. With this in mind, please model respect for teachers, honor our professional expertise, and show your kids that you support our goals.
- People learn from their mistakes. Let your child make them.
- Success is not always measured by an A grade — it is individual for each student.
- Asking the teacher to give a grade that wasn’t earned feels insulting, and is a detriment to the success of the student.
- Be sure you understand how the grading system works, how to interpret your child’s grades, and how to communicate with teachers when there’s a concern.
- We appreciate constructive ideas that may help your child in the classroom. We’re a partnership with the goal of student success.
- It takes a village to raise a child, and teachers are part of that village!
In the comments below, please share your thoughts on this list and your own experiences with Parent-Teacher conferences. Feel free to offer any suggestions from your point of view that would help them run smoothly.
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I am a high school teacher and a parent of a recently-graduated high school student. Here are my thoughts on parent-teacher conferences.
Many parents of high-achieving students are only coming to hear great things about their kids (what parent is any different?) and take pride in their children’s accomplishments.
Frankly, as long as their kids admit to being challenged, these parents would be better advised to skip the conference, and let the parents of the more challenged students get the benefit of the teacher’s time.
The other peeve we teachers share is that parents enable their children’s plagiarism, by not discouraging cutting and pasting from websites as their own, or simply reviewing websites for insight into difficult texts assigned, thereby short-circuiting their teacher’s wisdom in assigning work that challenges students to struggle with the material, in order to grow and be able to think abstractly.
Students do not read enough and are losing the ability to analyze, without the crutch of e-notes or other generic so-called study sites. Parents would do well to encourage outside reading.
On the plus, it’s really great meeting parents and learning about the homes our students come from.