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Making Parents Comfortable During a Parent-Teacher Conference
Why Parent-Teacher Conferences?
School is considered to be a second home for children and teachers are rightfully considered second mothers for children. On an average, each child spends a minimum of 6 hours in school and hence it is very important to understand the child's perspective of the school, the parent's perspective of the child's schooling and the teacher's perspective of the child in school.
A parent-teacher conference helps in a thorough understanding of all the three perspectives and paves way to a cooperative effort in making schooling and learning fun for the children. Hence, parent-teacher conferences are very significant and it is also important for the parents an teachers to give due importance to the meetings.
For the Teachers
As a teacher it is very important to make the parents comfortable not only during the conference but also before and after the conference. Giving your best as a teacher always, is the most important thing to do. This makes the children adore and admire you and the parents feel more confident about sending the children to your classes.
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE
- Think and list down the various points that you would like to discuss with the parent so that you do not miss out any important point. Prioritize your points in the list so that you discuss the important ones first within the time frame allotted for the meeting
- Decide if you want the child to be present during the meeting. This is a very important decision to be taken by you. Give due consideration to the nature of the child before taking this decision. Inform the parents clearly if you want the child to be present or not for the meeting.
- Gather inputs from other teachers handling the child to have a broader view. This helps you to validate better to the parent by quoting examples.
- Be positive about the meeting and be yourself without any biased view about the parent or the child. This preparation is probably the key to a successful interaction with the parent.
DURING THE CONFERENCE
- Keep in mind the anxiety the parent will have while talking to you. Be patient about this. this helps you to have a meaningful meeting
- Start with the strengths of the child first. Talk about the unique positive qualities of the child. Quote examples where the child excelled in something, even if it seems small to you
- Take care of the words you use while telling about the problems of the child. Do not let personal emotions creep in. Also keep a check on the tone of your voice when you discuss about the child's difficulties in the classroom.
- Be a good listener by asking relevant questions to the parent. To understand the child's behaviour in class, it is very important that you understand the child's environment at home, so, be patient and listen to what the parent has to say.
- Give confidence to the parent that his/her child is safe with you and that together you can ensure a positive growth for the child. Also make the parents understand that regular meeting is required to understand the child's development better.
AFTER THE CONFERENCE
Make notes of what the parents offered during the meeting and try to work on making the child more comfortable in school. Understand the responsibility as a teacher in shaping the life of your student. Observe your child in and out of the classroom and make notes for yourself to handle the child better.
For the Parents
Parents play an important role in making the conference a success. You can take a few measures to make yourself comfortable before, during and after the conference. Here are a few tips.
BEFORE THE CONFERENCE
It is natural to be anxious before the meeting with your child's teacher, but, it is always better to have some basic understanding about your child's perspective towards schooling in general and the teacher in particular before attending the conference. Here are a few points to note before going for the conference:
- Talk to your child regularly about school and the different activities done in school. It is not good to talk to your child about school just before Parent-Teacher conferences. Frequently communicating with your child about school helps you to understand your child's feelings and thoughts better, thus equipping you better to attend the conferences.
- List down the different topics that you would like to discuss with your child's teacher. This helps you to stay more organized and focused during the meeting.
- Think of a set of questions for yourself. Answer them before the conference and be prepared to have a different set of answers at the end of the conference. The questions should be related to your child's schooling and the different aspects at home that could affect his tenure at school everyday.
- Have a positive outlook about the conference. It doesn't always mean that you child is in trouble, if you are invited for a conference. Consider it as an opportunity to get to know the teacher better and work with the teacher together for your child's betterment. Go with an open mind. Be ready to hear what the teacher has to say and not what you want to hear!
DURING THE CONFERENCE
- Be a good listener. Though it is quite natural to have the urge to convey your thoughts, it is very important to listen to what the teacher has to say. This will give you the time to process your thoughts and also helps you to pass them to the teacher in a better fashion.
- Stick to your schedule for the conference. Do not exceed the time limit. Keep in mind that the teacher will have more parents to meet.
- Do not get emotional during the meeting. Try to have a better control over your spontaneous reactions to the teacher's comments about your child. It is best to understand, assimilate and them react, thus giving the teacher also the time to take in your comments.
- Ask questions to understand better.Ask the important ones from your list first. This helps you to use time effectively.
- Ask for examples when the teacher gives you comments about your child. This helps you to know the real fact and handle the situation better.
- If the time is insufficient, request the teacher for a follow-up conference sometime soon so that things are not left hanging in the mid air.
AFTER THE CONFERENCE
This is probably the most important phase as this decides how the future conferences would be! Discuss with your child the points discussed in the conference. Highlight the positive comments encouraging them to stay put on their strengths. Talk to them about the problems that were identified in the meeting and prepare an action plan with your child to overcome the problems. Continue to keep a watch over your child on all their activities thus helping you to stay connected. Do not forget to keep talking to your child regularly about school so that you are constantly updated. You can also be the one to schedule a conference with the teacher if you feel something is wrong somewhere, after all none but you can give the best to your child!