Are you a first-year teacher feeling a bit nervous about your first parent-teacher conferences? This blog is chock-full of tips you can use to make sure they go as smoothly as possible.
Rise and Shine
Your first year of teaching can make for an intimidating experience. There are so many different areas in which you may feel that you have to prove yourself. One of these areas is the parent-teacher conference, which is one of the first and most direct instances of interfacing you'll have with the parents of your students. Parents can be difficult to please, which means that you're probably hoping to make a good impression. Here are our best tips for how to shine during your first parent-teacher conferences.
The first thing you can do to make sure that your parent-teacher conferences go as well as possible is to be prepared. There's nothing more impressive than somebody who's completely ready for the task at hand. So plan what you want to say to each parent, how you want to communicate it, which materials you'll show the parents to illustrate your points, and how you'll respond to potential questions that might come up.
Here are some parent-generated questions we recommend you prepare for, among others:
- What are the classroom rules and procedures?
- What will (student) learn this year?
- How is (student) evaluated in this class?
- In what ways does (student) excel?
- What are (student)'s challenges?
- How much does (student) participate in class?
One key way you can go above and beyond for your parent-teacher conferences is to keep things personal. The last thing parents want to hear is something generic that they can imagine you saying about any student. Instead, be sure to use specific anecdotes, behaviors, examples of classwork, and quiz/test results that will help parent(s) really understand what their child's in-class experience is like.
Further, we recommend talking about more than just academics. Let your student's parents know how you see the whole child. Does he seem comfortable and secure in class? How is her social life? Does he appear stressed? After all, an education involves much more than just scholarship.
Ask Questions and Listen
Make sure that the entire parent-conference doesn't just consist of you talking at the parents. Ask them questions and actively listen to their answers. Be sure to elicit their opinions and side of the story where appropriate.
If, for example, you've noticed a behavioral issue in a student, give his or her parents a chance to explain any contextual issues that might shed light on why the behavior is happening. Allowing the parents of your students to feel heard is sure to help them accept whatever you have to say, whether it be good or bad, and create the impression that you're working together as a team for the best of the student.
Make a Plan
Finally, you'll want to work with the parents to make a plan about how you'll move forward as a student-parent-teacher unit toward the best possible outcome this school year.
- How will you address any issues that arise?
- How will you communicate and keep in touch?
- Which issues do parents want to be notified about should they happen?
This way, you'll all leave the conference with a sense of direction and purpose. Pretty good for a first-year teacher, huh?
For more ideas, tips, tricks, and tools you can use in your classroom as a new teacher, check out Study.com's Teacher Edition.