Seven Ways to Achieve Effective, Impactful Conferences
Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to partner with your child’s teacher or teachers to work on a plan to help your child learn and succeed. Below are some suggestions from district administrators, counselors, teachers, and teacher-leaders for getting the most out of your parent-teacher conference experience.
The best parent-teacher conferences focus on how successfully the child is learning in school, not just point totals. The two are connected, but remember to also look at learning objectives and targets, instead of just missed points. Prepare by reviewing homework, quizzes, and tests before the conference. You can always bring a list of questions to ask the teacher.
Look for excellent opportunities.
Both teachers and parents want children to succeed. You will hear positive feedback about your child, but teachers may also see areas for improvement, even if your child is doing well. Share past challenges and solutions and ask questions like: Is my child performing at grade level? What are his or her strengths? How could he or she improve?
Talk — and listen.
Nobody knows your child the way you do. Have questions prepared, and be open to the answers. If you are surprised by something you hear, let the teacher know. That way, you can come up with a solution as a team.
Make a plan.
Work with your child’s teacher to develop a plan you think will work best for your child. Find out which assignments and projects are coming up and what the teacher’s expectations are for that work. Plan to check in with your child using specific questions to get more specific answers. You can also plan to check in with your child’s teacher periodically throughout the rest of the year at important points.
Come prepared to take notes, and devote your full attention to the conference. Try to stay within your scheduled time to make the process smoother for everyone. If you feel more time is needed, set a follow-up meeting with the teacher.
Work as a team.
Parents, teachers, and students are all working toward the same goal: student achievement. Use the conference as a time to agree on some common expectations, then discuss ways you can support learning at home.
Include your child.
You are welcome to bring your student to conferences, though it is not required. If you do not bring your child, review the conference with them afterward so expectations are clear. Talk about what you learned about their success and areas where they can improve or goals. Work with your child to determine goals and strategies for reaching those goals. Ask for your child’s ideas to give them a positive sense of ownership.
Parent-teacher conferences are a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your child’s teachers. Even if you know how your child is doing, it is a great way to show support for your child and to work with teachers to guide your child toward success.
Watch for messages from your school that explain the conference procedure, and note if you need to schedule any conferences in advance. If you have questions, email one of your child’s teachers.