Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Tips for a Successful Parent Teacher Conference

How to Have a Successful Parent Teacher Conference


Both teachers and parents may be nervous before conferences. If the focus remains on what is best for the child, then all should end well. Like all conversations, parent-teacher conferences are best when both sides talk and listen. Here are some tips for a successful conference.

 
BE PREPARED AND STAY POSITIVE
Focus on Strengths before Discussing Concerns

  • Don't Criticize
  • Don't Compare
  • Don't Complain


TEACHER TIPS:
  1. Invite both parents and contact them early. Send home reminders with ways they can contact you: Notes, email address, phone number and times available.
  2. Greet parents at the door with a smile.
  3. Allow enough time to conference but stick to the points necessary to help the child.
  4. Be prepared and specific with work samples, attendance records, behavior notes, and other data you want to discuss.
  5. Be ready for questions. You may be asked: "What is my child's ability level? Is my child doing their best? Does my child cause any trouble? What can I do to help my child succeed in school? Does my child have friends at school? Does my child eat their lunch?"
  6. Ask about the child. What are their interests? activities? hobbies?
  7. Listen to the parents but keep the conference focused on the child, discussing solutions and collaboration.
  8. End on a positive note and let the parents know when and how you are available.
  9. Keep a record of the conference with your notes.
  10. Follow up.

PARENT TIPS:
  1. Arrive early to find a parking space, sign in, and find the room.
  2. Bring support. Both parents should attend if at all possible. If not, bring a friend or relative if you feel you need support. 
  3. Be prepared. Make notes in advance of questions or concerns. As a courtesy, you could let the teacher know in advance if you have a serious concern so she give you the information you want to know.
  4. Address Concerns: Let the teacher know if there is a particular topic you want to discuss.
  5. Exchange information and let the teacher know of changes in your child's life that may be affecting their behavior or performance.
  6. Ask: "How can I help my child at home?"
  7. Take notes.
  8. Be positive. "How can we solve this problem together?
  9. Leave with a plan.
  10. Stay in communication with the teacher about concerns and progress.
Parents and teachers want what is best for every child. Remember these important words:

Is there a disruptive child in the classroom?

With parents of disruptive children, tell the parents in your most caring manner, looking them in the eye, that you are concerned about their child's behavior. You only want what is best for their child, after all. Be a good listener and you will gain insight as to why problems are occurring. This insight may give you that extra bit of patience to deal with the child's behavior. You may want to ask for permission to have a child tested by the school counselor for play therapy.


Is there a child who may qualify for Special Education?

Inevitably, some year you will have a child who will qualify for special education who has not yet been diagnosed. Gently talk to the parents about your concerns. Never give your personal diagnosis. Sometimes parents already have a feeling that something is wrong and are relieved when a teacher suggests testing. Some parents are offended and are in denial. But testing by a profession clarifies if a child qualifies for special education services. Parent's permission is required for testing, but I never had one decline. Often, they were relieved that help may be available. Documentation is important.

The best advice I ever received was given to me by a District Special Education Supervisor: "Before a parent conference, I say a prayer and then I stay positive."

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22 comments:

  1. Awesome tips and suggestions. I'm going to RT this.

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    1. Brenna - Thank you so much. Love your preschool blog.

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  2. Great advice! If I may add a tip for teachers, from a parent's perspective: If you get behind schedule, cut back on friendly chitchat that isn't directly related to the child's education. Parents who are late for work or dinner waiting in the hall 45 minutes past their scheduled time may feel pretty irritated if they overhear you chattering on and on about your own child, hobbies you have in common with the parents, or anything like that. (My child's teacher is awesome--just a bit too talkative when there wasn't really time for it!)

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    1. Yes, it is so irritating to wait and wait. It's hard to stay on schedule but I usually had "no-shows" and had to reschedule. But you are right. Good point.

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  3. Oh I did some of those things! yeah for me. I guess these would also be good suggestions for IEP meetings. You should make a list for that! I know other parents would like to have some suggestions.

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    1. Thank you Cassie. That is something I plan on doing. It is in my Kindergarten book. I went through so many ARDs with my daughter, that I know how it feels. Take support!

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  4. Great post, Susan! I'm emailing the link to my teaching friends.

    I can think of a few teachers my son had in the past who could have used some of these pointers. And a few parents!

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    1. Thank you Eddie. Conferences can be so difficult - needing kleenix or anger management classes. But I got better at them with practice. It's good to remember that each child is perfect in their parent's eyes.

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    1. Thank you Jaime. So glad you visited and commented. Have a great day.

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  6. Hi! We recently had our first Pre-K parent/teacher conference, and thankfully hubby came with me. It's funny you mentioned the "disruptive child" in the classroom, because even before the parent/teacher conference, my son's teacher contacted me about one particular boy that was distracting our son. :) So we've made it a point to tell him to listen to his teacher, and not be distracted by "so and so." Thanks for sharing these great tips!

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    1. Frances, Thank you so much for commenting. LOVE your blog.

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  7. Frances - thank you so much. I LOVE your blog! Amazing.

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  8. Great tips Susan! I homeschool, but we go through a public charter. I meet with my son's education specialist once every six weeks to discuss his progress. These are helpful!

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    1. Glad you like the post Allison. I think staying positive and respectful are so important - but often lost in the emotion. Thank you for visiting.

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  9. Great information! I am teaching preschool and while I do send home progress notes, I only do a parent-teacher meeting twice a year. These tips will help me make the most of those meetings. Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library.

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    1. You are very welcome. Love your blog and linkies.

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  10. JDaniel's preschool teacher must have read your tips before our meeting with her today.

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    1. Ha - thank you. But I imagine JDaniel is a wonderful student to have in class.

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  11. These tips are so useful! Thank you for sharing them - and in such a straightforward, concise way, too!

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    1. Thank you for visiting. I learned the hard way many times, so only wanting to help. Love your blog!

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  12. I'm in debt to all of your tips and knowledge! We all appreciate what you do. This is all new to me, parent teacher conferences at my sons preschool.

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