It’s Parent-Teacher Conference Time
By Wendy Wegner
Now is the time of the year when the classroom teachers make the big attempt to contact all parents, match family and school schedules, gather documents on all of their students, and still try to teach. This is not an easy task while still maintaining their own family life. The caring parents of their students can be very easy to work with or not so easy. This depends on family work schedules, sports calendars, and transportation.
Goals can be different for parents and teachers. The parents want to know their child’s progress in terms they understand. They also want to know more about the homework policy and how to get help if their student is struggling. Finally, the parents usually want to know between conferences the best way to address their concerns with the teacher. The teachers must address the student’s progress and behavior observations in the classroom, supply suggestions to improve specific skills after school hours, and answer questions presented during the conferences.
An efficient parent-teacher conference from the parent’s point of view involves a few steps:
1. The parent should reply to the invitation as soon as it is received. Let the teacher know if the schedule does not work for the family. It can be rescheduled.
2. Depending on their age, parents should bring their children with them. This allows time for discussing uncertain situations that need to be cleared up with the student.
3. A notepad with a list of questions should be part of this conference, and be sure to take notes during the conference.
4. If time is too short due to the scheduled time, make another appointment.
5. Interpreters can also be important. The districts can help here. The best results from a conference are usually with a 3rd part interpreter rather than the student interpreting.
6. Finally, at the end of the conference, the parents and teachers may set up a method of communication.
7. Parents would benefit from sitting on the long side of a rectangular table. They will automatically become more involved with the other participants of the meeting. Also, a family member sitting close to a staff member shows real interest in what is being discussed. (Teachers appreciate that.)
Please know that the teachers look forward to meeting with you and want to let you know what is happening. If there are concerns, they are there to help and work with you and your student. The key is mutual respect and coming prepared to support your favorite student.