Parent/Teacher Conferences are held several times a year to help parents, teachers and children share information that will lead to a successful school year, academically, socially and psychologically.
As a parent, teacher, and administrator, I have found that the key to a successful conference is planning. This blog is about planning for a successful parent/teacher conference. It is divided into three parts so that you can give focused attention to developing an organized plan before you go to the teacher/parent conference. These are:
- Developing a Plan
Part 1: Preparation for a Successful Parent/Teacher Conference
Make a list of your impressions of your child.
- What’s worked and what hasn’t worked for him in the past.
- Review and make notes about any testing that was done, as well as previous IEPs that you have.
- What are your concerns?
By writing these down, you are creating a road map to follow. This allows you to put aside emotions that might get in the way of an honest conversation. Do not rely on memory. It is too easy to get off-topic and run out of time.
Part 2: Creating a Script
First, you might want to write down your introductory remarks and practice it before the conference. Start off introducing yourself and say that you have been looking forward to this meeting to hear about your child. Indicate that you’d like to hear about the teacher’s impression of your child first and any questions she might have.
Then, it is time for you to listen without interrupting. This is hard but it is the best way to get a complete picture from the teacher. You will have questions so bring paper and pencil with you. Tell the teacher that you’ll be writing notes so that you don’t forget anything you’d like more information on. After the teacher is finished, use your notes to frame your questions. For example: “You’ve said that Bobby doesn’t participate in class discussions. What is he doing during discussion time? Do you check in with him to see what he understands?”
Part 3: Developing a Plan
Now that you’ve heard from the teacher and asked questions, ask about setting up a plan that will support your child. This plan should include SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon/Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These are widely used in education and business. They create a focused plan of action to get results.
For Example, let’s say that one goal is to write a solid paragraph. Let’s look at a SMART goal for Bobby.
Goal: Bobby will learn how to write a five sentence paragraph
Specific: Bobby will write a five sentence paragraph with a topic sentence, three supporting detail sentences and a concluding sentence.
Agreed Upon: The teacher, parent, and child agree that this is an important skill.
Relevant: Learning to write a solid paragraph is essential in every grade and is a life skill.
Time Bound: Bobby will be able to write a five sentence paragraph by the next conference or perhaps the teacher or you would like more frequent check-ins.
If you are working with a tutor, ask if you could role-play your upcoming conference to give you confidence and get any tips from the tutor who will be using these goals during tutoring sessions.
By Susan Lena
RITES Board Member
Susan Lena has a BA and M.ED in education. She has taught children in grades 1-6 for twenty years and been an Elementary School Principal for ten years. She has participated in numerous parent/teacher conferences.