Parent Teacher Conference Tips

Instructor: Marquis Grant
''It takes a village to raise a child.'' Although many know this to be an old African proverb, research has shown that student achievement increases when parents and teachers work together. This lesson will explore the importance of the parent-teacher conference when it comes to student success.

Communicate Early with Parents

Communication with parents should begin early. Educators should be proactive in reaching out to parents long before the first meeting or negative behavior takes place. Creating positive avenues of support in the beginning of the school year will likely result in more positive than negative experiences as the year progresses.

Effective parent teacher conferences
Parent Teacher Conference

Establish a School-Home Partnership

Creating and maintaining positive relationships between school and home is an important part of all children's academic success. Research has suggested positive correlations between parent involvement and student achievement. Within this context, opportunities must be created in order for parents and families to fully participate in a meaningful way in the academic environment. Conferences are a great way for parents and teachers to support one another and confirm that they are on the same page in terms of supporting the student's achievement.

Two way communication between parents and teachers is important
Two-Way Communication

Utilize Two-Way Communication

Communication should be bilateral, meaning one side should not be the only source of communicating concerns or expectations about student achievement. The parent-teacher conference is a great opportunity for both sides to share their thoughts, opinions, and beliefs about a student. If your student has demonstrated challenges in his academics or behavior, remember to include positive comments as well so that the conference does not turn into a child-bashing event. Parents tend to respond better if teachers express a genuine interest in a child's success rather than just complain about what the child is doing wrong.

Use Data

Although we typically think of teachers supplying the data, parents should be encouraged to share their own information as well. You may want to encourage parents to bring any notes or pertinent information with them to share. A data notebook may be a good resource for keeping information organized and readily available during the conference. The data notebook may include work samples, current progress reports, assessment information, communications between home and school, or notes jotted down on a notepad. Likewise, at the conclusion of the conference, you should update parent contact information and end the meeting on a positive note, perhaps simply saying you're looking forward to continuing to work with the student in meeting his or her goals.

Keeping a data notebook will help keep student information organized and available for conferencing
Data Notebook

Stay in Contact

Parent-teacher conferences are generally held once every quarter, but can be suggested by either party at any time if there is a need. With modern technology, parent-teacher conferences can take on many forms, as it may not be possible for a parent to physically go to their child's school. Methods like Skype or FaceTime can be used to facilitate meetings with parents. Even an old-fashioned phone call is perfectly okay when conferencing because it allows the teacher and the parent to communicate with each other. Exchanging emails or text messages are also options to keep the flow of information going.

Keep Calm, Stay Focused

For one reason or another, conferences can become emotionally charged. Parents are highly protective of their children and want to defend them at all costs. This may be counter-productive to the purpose of the meeting, but parents should certainly voice their concerns about their child's experiences in school. However, it is important to remain calm and to focus on the overall outcome that both you and the parent should have in common: the child's success. State any issues and concerns as calmly as possible. If you feel your emotions are getting the best of you, it may be wise to reschedule the conference or ask to take quick break to gather your composure. Emotionalism will get nothing accomplished, and both sides will feel the need to go on the offensive if things get too heated.

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