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Posted on September 19, 2012 2:47 am
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Adam Kopel
Adam Kopel
Reps: 26
How to have a sucessful parent teacher conference
1. DO always greet parents warmly at the door. Plan and create an inviting environment. Accompany parents to a place where you can sit together and converse comfortably. Some teachers opt to group chairs in a semi-circle near a table or other surface where they can share student work. (And make sure the chairs are big enough!)

DON'T summon parents into the classroom and direct them to sit in front of your desk. Parents may be anxious or fearful about meeting with you, a key authority figure in their child's life. If you distance yourself, put them in a subservient position, or appear to condescend, you're undercutting the chances of a successful meeting.

2. DO start the meeting by showing that you care and know something positive about their child. Summarize the student's strengths before raising problems. Of course, if you have a heavy student load, it can be hard to get to know each child well by early fall conferences.

Three hints:

Keep an index card on each child and jot down observations that you can later share. For example: "Alex told us in class the other day about his winning home run." "Tamira has a wonderful way of making friends with children who are new or feeling shy."
If you have access to a camera, take photos of your students to use on a seating chart or to jog your memory before parent-teacher conferences.
As a getting-to-know-you assignment, ask students to write about their interests, both academically and outside of school.

DON'T begin by focusing on the student's problems.

An Albany-area teacher recalled a parent-teacher conference when she was on the receiving end as the mother of a second-grader. "The teacher's first words to me were: 'Well, she's very messy.' She went on in detail about my daughter's messy desk, her writing — even her hair — until I wanted to cry. There was nothing about my daughter's wonderful sense of humor or her creativity. I wondered if she even liked my daughter." The students in your class are all somebody's beloved child, and parents come in hopes that you can see their child's best.

3. DO dress in a way that reflects the meeting's importance and your respect for the parents and their child.

DON'T dress too casually for the occasion. Some people think casual attire will make the parent feel more comfortable, but experts say that can backfire. You are a professional, and professional attire communicates that message.

4. DO rehearse what you want to say. Practice warm-up introductions, prepare an outline, and prepare a checklist of areas to cover. Plan how you will keep track of time.

DON'T wing it.

5. DO use materials from the student's work folder. It is much easier to demonstrate progress or show parents concretely what a student needs to do to improve if you utilize these materials.

DON'T rely on verbal descriptions of the student's work and progress. Avoid subjective statements such as "His conduct is bad." Instead, cite specifics such as: "She talks out of turn," or, "He won't sit in his seat."

6. DO use positive, nonverbal behavior. Listen reflectively. Maintain good eye contact. Lean in when you speak or make suggestions. In your suggestions, acknowledge the stresses of parenting: "I know it can be difficult to find the time to read with your child every night. Try asking your child to read aloud while you're preparing dinner."

DON'T point a finger at parents or place blame.

7. DO engage parents in planning best ways to help their child. Seek their suggestions first.

DON'T dominate a meeting so that parents can't ask questions or make suggestions. There's so much you want to tell them, but think hard about how much information parents need. Parents are most interested in specifics related to their child and will almost always have concerns or questions of their own. Allow for occasional silences, which give the parent an opportunity to ask a question or voice a concern.

8. DO give parents something to take home with them.They can review material more completely at home and refer back to it during the year. This can also save time at the conference. If you offer a handout on curriculum, for example, you won't need to go over it verbally in exhaustive detail.

DON'T send them home empty handed.

9. DO use clear and descriptive terms. Adjust to the parents' needs and levels of understanding. If you must use a buzzword, get in the habit of using parenthetical definitions: "This year we will use math manipulatives, which are objects, like this set of marbles, that let kids touch and experience what is meant by mathematical symbols."

DON'T use education jargon or acronyms. This can have a chilling effect on parent communications. Some common buzzwords that you know but parents might not include whole language, math manipulatives, SATs, ACTs, IEPs, paradigm, inclusion and cooperative learning.

10. DO end positively, with a proactive message of hope. Set goals. Review how parents can help. Mention plans for follow through. Let parents know their support is needed and appreciated. If appropriate, send a follow-up letter.

DON'T end the meeting on a negative note by recounting the problem.
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Comments posted for this Tip: 11

KW1091
KW1091
Reps: 99
These are some great tips for having a successful parent-teacher conference. Other points to consider is do you let students participate in the parent-teacher conference? Also when planning the parent-teacher conference to attaining services such as an interpreter for either parents who have a hearing impairment or for parents whose first language is not English.
  Posted on: April 18, 2013 7:08 pm

BuqeNu
BuqeNu
Reps: 100
Your suggestions are quite thorough on how to have a successful parent-teacher conference. You have considered the core parties in a child’s education, the child, parents and teacher(s). You emphasized the importance of positive, effective verbal and non-verbal communication that should takes place during conferences. In addition, body language and attire do send a message. Generally, you shared effective practices that promote a positive and productive school climate. Your sound advice can prove beneficial to the novice teacher and the veteran.
  Posted on: October 17, 2014 4:52 am

Chelsea
Chelsea
Reps: 101
These tips are very useful! I am currently taking a course called "Enhancing Family Involvement in the Classroom" and your guidelines match perfectly with what we have learned so far. I agree that it is important to open and close the meeting with positive statements, that way the parents are open to hearing what the child could improve on. I also feel that the best way to ensure that a conference goes well is to be prepared.
  Posted on: October 18, 2014 10:25 pm

qaqeHy
qaqeHy
Reps: 101
Great idea. Being positive from the start is key I believe.
  Posted on: March 9, 2015 4:18 pm

PumuMu
PumuMu
Reps: 203
Great tip. Thanks
  Posted on: October 13, 2015 6:47 pm

eSyTyt
eSyTyt
Reps: 101
These are great tips!
  Posted on: October 16, 2015 1:16 am

nydyra
nydyra
Reps: 202
Very helpful for new and old teachers alike.
  Posted on: October 17, 2015 8:01 am

yseHug
yseHug
Reps: 100
Being prepared and showing that you care is all very important. Making sure to make the parents feel welcome is important as well, because you all need to work together and get along for the best results possible.
  Posted on: October 18, 2015 4:31 am

eTytun
eTytun
Reps: 101
Awesome tips to keep in mind for future parent teacher conferences. Thank you.
  Posted on: October 9, 2016 4:29 am

eqeJaQ
eqeJaQ
Reps: 100
These are awesome tip!
  Posted on: March 4, 2017 4:12 pm

ysyByg
ysyByg
Reps: 200
Thanks for the good advice.
  Posted on: October 8, 2017 11:26 pm

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