With school now in full swing, one of the days that parents can look forward to, or maybe not, is parent-teacher conference day. Here are a few tips to make the time you have with your child’s teacher productive and valuable.
1. Be on time…No, be early! – When you realize that teachers have so many students and so little time, it is important that you arrive on time. Arriving late or causing the conference to start late will bring undue stress to the situation.
Teachers who are organized an on time will stress because they have a schedule to follow. Instead of giving you their full attention, they will be looking at the clock and the other parents waiting outside. If teachers feel they have to rush, they might skip over important information to make sure they end on time, leaving you with a partial picture of where you child is academically. Remember, it was your fault for being late!
Teachers who don’t stick to their schedule and try to fit you in, will cause every other parent behind you to run late too! These parents might be depending on their allotted time, coming from work or leaving their kids with someone for a short time to come to the school. This in turn will stress out parents, possibly making them angry by the time they meet with the teacher. Many teachers have been the punching bags on this account.
2. Hear the teacher out first! – Your child’s teacher has important topics to discuss with you. They want to talk about your child’s academics, their improvement, strengths, weaknesses and how you can help. If you bombard them with questions, you won’t find out where your child is academically. This is the most important part of why they go t school in the first place!
3. Write your questions down before the conference. – Your child’s teacher wants to answer your questions. If you have your thoughts down on paper, he/she can answer them without wasting time for you to get your thoughts together.
4. Stick to the present time. – The conference is not a time to bring up something that happened years ago in another classroom or even what happened a month/week ago. If problems arise with your child, for any reason, teachers need to know immediately. Teachers are always an email/phone call away. They are supposed to get back to you in a timely manner. If you don’t hear back from a teacher, email them again and cc: the assistant principal. That will get their attention! J
5. Follow through with recommendations. – Most teachers will provide you with recommendations on how to help your child academically. Don’t let the advice fall on deaf ears! Follow through with what the teacher recommends.
6. Setup a time for a follow-up conference. – If you don’t get all your questions answered or there needs to be some follow-up on the items discussed, setup another conference. Teachers want to partner with you in your child’s education!
7. Random Last Thoughts…
- In my time in education, I’ve never met a teacher who didn’t like kids. There were teachers who might not have needed to be in the educational field, but they all loved kids. There is always the exception, but I would lean the other way.
- Be understanding of the first year or timid teacher. They don’t teach “Parent Conference 101” in college. Many schools don’t even really prepare their teachers for what to expect, they just throw them into the fire!
- Teachers can’t talk about other students, it is a confidentiality issue. Please don’t ask them to. It puts them in a difficult situation.
- Remember you attract more flies with honey. Be nice…it goes a long way!
Lastly, believe it or not, most teachers want to meet with their student’s parents. They look forward to this time because if the parents know how to help their child, it makes the whole year flow smoothly.
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