Parent-Teacher conferences are just around the corner. That being said, it’s never too early to help begin to prepare for what is most likely your first parental encounter of the school year (besides Back-To-School night). Every school is different in terms of the conference format, but every parent is the same in that parents talk about their child and their child’s nature, which is excellent for you to hear. Some tips from my view (as a teacher and an administrator):
1. Clear the air. You’ve hopefully had sufficient time with your students at this point and know if there are any academic or behavioral problems that need to be addressed. However, starting with an “emotional charge” will certainly lead you to a defensive parent, which will lead to a defensive-driven, unproductive conference. Bring the issues at hand after an introduction and some simple questions that would transcend into the issue (if there even is one).
2. Set an intention that it will be a positive experience. There is no need to dread conferences. They should be simple conversations that address needs. Dwelling on them will certainly come out in a conference, making it an experience to forget, which nobody wants. What’s that phrase… “don’t worry, be happy”? 🙂
3. Write your goals of the conference and interactions down so you can refer to it during the year. I found it extremely helpful to have a log / journal / notebook of parent conferences and to reflect on what was discussed so you can reflect on it during the year.
4. Be clear, concise, and to the point. Face it – you have a lot of conferences, and a lot of work to do. Many parents also have a lot to do. Don’t drag out a conference just to say you had one. Say what you need to say, and move on.
5.Don’t talk down to a parent. This is possibly the worst thing a teacher can do in a conference. I’ve seen teachers belittle parents in conferences; it’s embarrassing to the school, and to yourself. Remember – you’re the professional, and acting like one isn’t a recommendation, it’s a requirement. There is always a way to get your point across in a positive way.