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Parent-Teacher Conference: Tips for Parents

Updated on August 19, 2010

tips for parents

Little Johnny is having problems at school, in Mrs. Smith's class. Being a responsible parent, you've requested a parent-teacher conference. Or worse, you've been invited to a meeting at the teacher's request. If that's the case, you might just feel as if you're in school again, and you've been called to the principal's office.

A parent-teacher conference is a great way of opening up communication lines between an educator and a parent or parents - no matter which party instigated the meeting. Most teachers welcome such parent involvement. If the teacher and the parent can form a working team, the beneficiary is the student.

Below are some tips for parents to ensure that a parent-teacher conference is productive:

* If you're having a problem with a particular class or teacher, start trying to resolve it via the teacher first. If that doesn't help, only then should you go "over the teacher's head." Follow the proper chain of command.

* Don't go into the meeting with a bad attitude. Remember that you're only hearing one side of the story from your son or daughter. 99% of teachers are genuinely concerned with learning and the welfare of their students. That's why they entered the profession - it certainly was not for the money.

* State the problems specifically. General statements like "Johnny says you don't like him" are too vague. There is no way a teacher can address such issues.

* If you don't already have one, ask for a syllabus or course outline from the teacher. This way, you'll be able to help Johnny keep up.

* Don't be afraid to ask questions. Ask about Johnny's behavior in class, his homework grades, his test scores, etc.

* Ask the teacher what you can do at home to help. Don't expect the teacher to do it all on her own.

* Do not ask the teacher to call or email you every week about Jjohnny's progress. She has numerous other students to worry about. Instead, ask the teacher for her school email address and if it would be okay for you to email her once a week or so to inquire about Johnny. From my experience, this is the easiest way for a teacher to communicate with a parent. Many parents are at work during the school day and are difficult to reach by phone. Letters mailed home are sometimes retrieved by students and destroyed.

* Many schools have information posted online for parents to access. Be sure to inquire about this.

* If your child is failing the class, ask the teacher about specific measures that can be taken to improve Johnny's grade, including extra credit.

* If you do not receive satisfactory results from the parent-teacher conference, ask for a meeting with an administrator.

Parents need to take an active role in the education of their child. An individual teacher might see your child for less than an hour each day, and that's in a class with thirty or so other students. As a parent, you have a far greater impact. Work with the teacher instead of against her, creating a win-win situation for all parties involved.


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