Successful parent-teacher conferences don’t just happen. The planning helps make them productive. Some middle school and high school students do not relay information to their parents, so start by making sure parents are aware of upcoming conferences.
Make Parent-Teacher Conference Invitations
Start asking parents to come to parent-teacher conferences at the Open House. This is especially important when you are dealing with stay-at-home moms. Sending home a bi-weekly or monthly newsletter helps to keep parents informed of upcoming due dates for projects, tests, quizzes and papers. In addition, the parent-teacher conference dates can be advertised in the newsletter. Of course, a simple note home attached to a grade report will also grab the parent’s attention.
Organize the Room
Place a schedule outside of the room so that parents can view it when they arrive. It can be a reminder to parents to not go over their scheduled time. Also, place chairs outside the room for parents who arrive early. Tidy the room and dedicate a place to conduct the conference.
For the conference, have grade books up-to-date. In addition, a printout of the grades is a must. Also, samples of student work are helpful to show student progress. “Very often parents have no idea about how their kids are progressing” says Sam Miller of Parenting Teenagers Academy. “This is why the parent-teacher conference is so important: so they are brought up to speed and can support your goals as a teacher.”
Use the schedule to put student papers in order before the conferences. Some teachers create a folder for each student and include a list of assignments, grades and work samples. Additional information that can be included are future homework and project assignments along with due dates and requests for supplies or field chaperones.
Decide to Involve or to Not Involve the Student
Sometimes teachers are not comfortable with students present at the conference. It really is a matter of preference. However, many times the student shows up with the parent. Why not make it a positive experience for both?
he student can tell the parent how he or she is progressing in the class with teacher input. Also, if there are problems, the teacher can describe the incident or issues with the student present or send the student out in the hallway while the teacher and the parent discuss the issue.
Some teachers prepare their students to lead the conference. Students create a folder for the conference and place items in it that they would like to share with the parent. The student will do most of the talking with the teacher helping with certain details and questions that the parent may have.
Plan How to Handle Difficult Parents
If a child’s parents have already shown that they will be difficult during the conference, invite the principal to attend the conference. Brief the principal in advance on the student’s progress and the parents’ issues. If the discussion becomes heated, the principal can take control of the situation.
If a parent becomes aggressive or angry during a conference, stay calm. Try to find out why the parent is upset through questioning. Many times, there is a misunderstanding. If the parent is inconsolable, ask the parent if he or she would like the principal to come in to assist with the issue. The principal can be brought to the classroom, or the parents can go to the principal’s office. Or, they can make an appointment for a later date. Parent-teacher conferences can be a quick way to meet many parents. When parents are involved in their child’s education, the positive effects are too many to name. The key is to be organized, pleasant and prepared.