Tips for Leading Productive Parent-Teacher Conferences

Teachers have to put in a lot of effort to prepare for parent-teacher conferences. We can find a way for parents to connect with us, talk about their child’s academic progress and discuss ways to improve. In order to support your students, it is important to share current curriculum goals and teaching strategies. These are 15 tips to help you prepare for parent-teacher meetings.

1. Flexible conference schedule

Parents may have multiple students at school, multiple jobs or difficulty traveling. This means that teachers must be flexible in scheduling conferences. Teachers may be required to meet parents in these situations, whether it is during lunch, recess, or early in the morning. Parents who are unable to make it to school can meet via Skype or FaceTime.

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare

Conferencing requires hours of preparation, regardless of whether you are teaching geometry to 200 ninth- or tenth-graders or every subject to third graders. This process is much simpler if you keep accurate records.

It is best to be prepared:

  • Test results
  • Samples of work
  • Anecdotal Notes

3. If necessary, arrange for a translator and connect.

A translator is needed for parents who do not speak English. Schools might need to hire a translator, but not a student, so they can communicate effectively and respectfully.

Use a translator if you are working with them. This will allow you to communicate with them despite their language barriers. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have the same language, or they don’t care about their child. To show that you care, learn a few phrases in the child’s native language. Even “Hello,” and “How are you?” can help.

4. Pay attention to your body language

Your classroom and you should be open to parents and students. Your body language is one way visitors will first see you. Negativity can quickly ruin a conference’s mood.

It is also important to think about their backgrounds and the meanings of body language in different cultures . If your parent doesn’t speak English, David Matsumoto suggests that you consider their backgrounds and how body language can be used to facilitate communication. Instead, try to connect with your parent by smiling, using a relaxed posture, handshakes and a sincere tone.

5. Side-by-side

Parents and teachers should work together to ensure that children achieve their school goals. The School Mediator encourages parents to sit with their children, rather than behind a desk. Teachers can express their desire for partnership with parents by arranging furniture in a friendly, non-threatening manner. This helps to diffuse tension.

6. Student work and real stories

Even the most experienced teachers will not be able to remember every detail they need to share with parents. However, detailed notes will ensure that you can share all the relevant information within the timeframe of your conference schedule.

Anecdotes can be a great way for parents to gain insight into their child’s academic life. Anecdotes can be supported by visual examples of student work and feedback. It doesn’t give a true picture of the experience of being a student in your class. It doesn’t tell you how your student engages with the material or how well you support their learning and growth by providing feedback.

While you may not be able prepare many examples, a graded essay or project together with homework assignments or quizzes can mean a lot for a parent. It shows how much you care for your child. It can help you build a relationship with each parent and get them on board.

7. Be positive

Every student is full of potential and positive traits. At the beginning of the conference, share at least one shining trait with your parents and at the end. This could be a personality trait, academic or character trait such as hard work, persistence or helpfulness.

This is a great way to share this information. Finish on a high note by sharing a glowing detail or anecdote.

8. Set clear goals

Each student can learn, even gifted students. Each student should have specific goals. Create an action plan that includes steps to improve and milestones. This can help parents get more support as they can see a clear path that leads to success with achievable benchmarks and set goals.

9. Avoid education jargon

Many people are not familiar with 504s. Avoid confusing parents with education lingo. Be clear and concise, and explain your meaning to everyone.

10. Parents must take responsibility

A recent report from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory shows that children learn better when their parents are involved. Parents can be asked to sign progress reports or monitor homework by teachers who are effective.

Students who have difficulty completing homework assignments should use a planner. Parents should also check it each night. The completed work should be placed next to the items in the planner. It makes it easier for parents to verify the work and can increase trust, accountability and consistency.

If one parent has more than one job or both parents work late, you can suggest a tutoring program, library, or study center where the student can get help.

11. Encourage questions

Parents will feel more comfortable talking to their teachers and they will create a lasting relationship with them. Parents should feel at ease asking questions about their children’s academic achievements, friendships, or other characteristics. Parents should be asked if they have questions at least twice during the meeting. It is important to allow them time to speak so that they don’t feel rushed or talked down to. You should give them your email address so that they know they can reach you at any time during the school year.

12. Do not make assumptions about students or parents

All of us have heard negative comments about parents and students from teachers. You shouldn’t make parents feel judged or engage in judgmental talk while you confer with them. All parents are partners, regardless of whether they like it or not. You must make parents and students feel welcome as teammates, even those who are the most difficult. These are some strategies to help parents have difficult conversations.

13. Don’t engage a parent if they become hostile

Some parents can become hostile, no matter how affirming and prepared teachers may be. Some parents are used to receiving bad news and don’t trust teachers. They may feel the need to defend their child or vent their frustrations to you.

Keep calm and use these tips from the National Education Association to help you stay calm.

  • Focus on the positive.
  • Let the parents speak first.
  • Use active listening. Active listening is more than passive listening. Really listen .
  • Discuss what both parents want for their child.
  • Before including the child in the conversation, agree on a strategy.

14. Always be professional

Teachers have a difficult job. You may feel tempted to get too social or unprofessional during conferences. Talking about multiple topics or conversations with parents, or other teachers in professional spaces is not a good idea.

  • Negative comments about teachers or school administrators
  • Compare two or more students to one another.
  • Disseminating the behavior, family, and performance of another student.
  • Parents should not be blamed for their child’s struggles or performance.
  • Making fun of students and their families.
  • Talking to parents.
  • Berate the school or its policies.

15. Keep in touch with your parents

Parents should be able contact their child’s teacher. Email is often the best way to communicate with parents. However, phone calls and future conferences may be required. Establish the boundaries and guidelines for future communication.

Google Voice lets teachers create phone numbers they can forward to their phone without having to give out their personal information. Remind allows schools and teachers to text their parents and students without having to use personal numbers. More suggestions are available for online communication tools between parents and teachers.

Parents and teachers can meet to discuss their child’s academic progress, as well as create a plan for the future. Teachers who are effective listen to their parents and plan ahead ensure that they have practical solutions for students.