Written by Guest Blogger: Lisa Montierth
Parent-teacher conferences will always have the potential to be emotional minefields. But you have the power to make the experience productive and enjoyable. Use some of these techniques to have your best parent-teacher conferences yet (you can use these techniques for other parent conferences throughout the year, too!).
Take control of the discussion. Write out a plan for how you will organize the conference. What issues do you need to discuss? What goals do you have for your student? Plan which pieces of work you want to share and what you’ll say about them. Anticipate any questions that parents might have, and if they try to ask you to make comparisons to the rest of the class, just remind parents that every child develops differently.
Stay positive. Always operate under the assumption that the parent sitting across the table from you is the greatest ally in your efforts to help your student grow and learn. Conferences are such a great opportunity to join forces with parents. Remember to frame everything in a hopeful light, and keep your comments constructive.
Behavior can be a catalyst for connections. If you’ve been noticing a change in a student’s behavior, it’s likely that their parents have too. Let parents know that you are on their team, and offer them any insight that you can. Even if parents may already know what is causing the change in their child, discussing it with you may help them sort through the situation – and could help you find a solution.
Think solutions. Simply telling a parent that their child has been distracted in class is a good start, but it doesn’t get you any closer to resolving the issue. Tell parents what you’ve been trying to do to help your student, give them some ideas about what they can do at home, and ask them if they have any suggestions you can try.
Show you care. Connecting emotionally is a simple thing that can make a big difference. Parent-teacher conferences can be a nerve-wracking experience for a parent. Seeing that you care will put parents at ease and set the stage for a productive conversation.