A Guide To Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are a rare opportunity to get candid insights about how your child is doing in the world outside your home. Come ready to take notes and try to get a full picture of your child's progress. Here are 10 "musts" for these few evenings or afternoons each school year:

  1. Know when they are and make sure you go. No excuses on this one!

  2. Know the teachers' names. It shows you care.

  3. Know the major assignments for each class. If you thought some were original/creative/effective, tell the teacher. Everyone loves compliments.

  4. Know how your child is performing in each class.

  5. Know how hard your child works in each class.

  6. Know what your child thinks of each teacher. If the answer is "not much," don't mention it.

  7. Ask the teachers what they think are your child's strengths, weaknesses, and best chances for improving.

  8. Ask how you can support learning at home.

  9. Have some ideas about what teaching methods work for your child and see if the teacher is receptive to hearing them, e.g. "I've always thought that Johnny really needs to see something written out for him to understand it. Are you finding that to be the case?" If the teacher is not receptive to hearing your opinions about your child's academic development, don't be pushy or confrontational. If you have concerns about a teacher's technique or treatment of your child, PT conferences are the appropriate venue to feel out your differences. However, if "agreeing to disagree" is impossible or you have major pedagogical concerns, you should address that further in another meeting with an administrative supervisor present.

  10. Above all, listen! Accept that your child may act very differently at home and at school and trust that your child's teachers have some insight into who your child is becoming.

One final recommendation: go home and discuss what you have learned with your child so he or she understands that it really does matter.


Tags: Interacting With Teachers, Parent Teacher Conferences, Parenting Advice, Middle School
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