Tips for Smooth and Constructive Parent-Teacher Conference
Parent-Teacher Conferences can be challenging to handle, especially for new teachers. Some parents can be tough on teachers. Some parents put too much pressure on their kids. This is the time teachers get to know the students in their classes and what are their parents expect from their kids and the teachers. Thus, parent-teacher conferences must be cordial, productive, and informative.
Here are some tips to follow for a smooth parent-teacher conferences.
Research and Preparation
Send home a letter a couple of weeks before the conference, asking parents what their concerns and questions are. This way you get to know what to expect. Keep these letters as a guide to prepare your meetings with individual parents, keep your answers ready. When a teacher is prepared, it leaves a good impression on the parent and they are happy.
Ask the students for insight
Although the teacher has a broad and sophisticated perspective on student progress, asking students in to reflect on their own work can be very useful. They are very likely to provide additional insights into areas of growth or challenge, or draw your attention to something you've missed.
Parents should leave a conference with a clear idea and concrete examples of what is going well and what areas need work. While it is not a good idea to overwhelm parents with all of the students’ tests and assignments, well-chosen samples in a portfolio will support and clarify your notes.
Good News First
Human beings are more receptive to constructive criticism when our hard work, honest attempts, and natural talents are noticed and remarked upon. It is vitally important for parents that you see their children as individuals and that you like them. In some cases, you may have to search a lot for a positive comment. But it is worth it if you want to be heard when you recommend a change in their routine, or a tutor.
Say what you know
Don't feel you have to report on every area of the curriculum. Get an idea of what each family's priorities are (by sending home a letter before conference time, see point 1). It is perfectly acceptable to say, "I need to do a little research on that, and I'll get back to you," if a parent asks you something you are not prepared to answer. This response, if stated confidently and unapologetically, is perfectly professional, and certainly is preferable to making something up on the spot. If a parent is disrespectful or unpleasant, don't feel you have to defend yourself. Maintain your composure by acknowledging the comment without engaging the parent unnecessarily. Take notes and then immediately regain control of the conference by returning to your agenda and your prepared materials.
Showing that you care
Parents will appreciate if you show that you care by having your knowledge about their child, above and beyond the child's academic abilities. A brief story about a comment made in a class meeting, a journal entry, or a social interaction can personalize a conference and make it more satisfying for parents.
This article is inspired by and contains excerpts from Scholastic website. Read the original here.