Parent and teacher conferences are soon approaching. This is an exciting time for parents, as it serves as the first means of identifying how their children have been progressing thus far in the school year. However, too many times parents leave the conferences with more questions than answers. This is a hectic time; teachers are extremely busy, as they have twenty some conferences to prepare for themselves, and parents are often in a rush and feel unprepared. Here are several ideas and guidelines for making the most out of a conference.
It is important for parents to make the most of the fifteen or so minutes that are planned for the conference. Teachers usually have an idea of what they want to discuss during the meeting, and more often than not, the focus is on the child’s academic work and behavior within the classroom. Parents, please develop and write down an outline of what you want to discuss during the meeting. Like any structured meeting, the agenda must be decided by both parties. It is important to identify what the current concerns are, as well as what your (as parents) ideal outcome is from having the meeting with the teacher.
Specific topics that must be discussed during the parent-teacher meeting include:
1. Child’s academic performance
- What he or she has been doing well in
- What he or she has been struggling in
- What accommodations (if any) have been implemented to help the child perform better
2. Child’s behavior
- How has he or she been behaving in the classroom
- What the teacher has done to modify bad behavior
3. Child’s social and emotional functioning
- How he or she has been doing with social interaction
- Who he or she plays with on a regular basis
It is recommended that parents fully disclose any outside services, therapies, or evaluations that have been implemented with the child. It is important that the classroom teacher be made well aware of whatever interventions he or she is receiving in order to ensure that the same services can be implemented within the classroom setting. If a child has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan established, the parent and teacher conference serves as a great means to discuss how effective the accommodations offered by the documents have been thus far in the academic year.
The parent and teacher conference is very short; however, if parents are prepared for them, it can serve as a wonderful way to ensure that the child progresses to his or her potential within the school setting. If should not be thought of as a meeting to identify everything that has been going wrong this year, but rather as a means to identify solutions to grow.