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How to Have a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference

Updated on April 1, 2013

Helping Your Child Succeed in School

As a former elementary teacher and assistant principal, I had a lot of training in how to prepare for a parent-teacher conference. As a parent, nobody told me anything. All I knew was the teacher side of things. I drew on my experiences in education to help parents make the most of a parent-teacher conference.

Here are my top 7 tips for a successful parent-teacher conference.

7 Tips for a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference

1. The best way to have a good relationship with your child's teacher is to establish it at the beginning of the school year. Introduce yourself. If permitted, get the teacher's email address so that you can be in contact before a problem arises. Don't be afraid to ask questions. "Johnny told me that the math test was postponed until next Thursday. Is that correct?"

2. If there is a problem that needs to be resolved in a face-to-face meeting, make an appointment. Call the school or email the teacher directly to schedule a conference time that will work for both of you. If you just "show up," the teacher may be in another conference or have other duties at that time.

3. Have a plan. Write down specifically what you want to discuss with the teacher.

For example: Johnny's math grade on his report card was lower than you thought it would be:

* I didn't know that Johnny was having difficulty in math. How can we solve that problem in the future?

* How do you teach math lessons? Do you write on board with examples, have students come to the board to work problems, demonstrate on the overhead projector, use a smart board?

* How was final grade determined?

* How are you helping my child at school?

* How can I help at home?

When finishing the conference, discuss conclustions briefly to be sure both of you understand.

4. Remember that teachers are human, too. It won't help anyone if you yell at the teacher. Be calm and polite when expressing your views, even when you disagree.

5. Don't assume that your child is innocent. No one is perfect and children make mistakes. By the same token, no parent or teacher is perfect either. Maybe the teacher sent home a note about poor grades that you didn't receive. Maybe the teacher forgot to send a note. Maybe you got a note and didn't do anything. . .

6. Stick to the time frame allotted. If you run out of time, schedule another conference.

7. Follow up. Every teacher I know would appreciate a "thank you for meeting with me" or "I appreciate your help" note/email/phone call from a parent.


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