School has been going for many public schools for about a month to 6 weeks. This is the time of year that public and private schools begin to plan and provide Parent Teacher Conferences.
Having been on both sides of Parent Teacher Conferences, I would like to share a few thoughts that may be helpful for both teachers and parents. If your child is homeschooled and you are working with a professional for support, you can use this advice as well. My biggest piece of advice is, keep the doors open to communication. You are working as a team. Being open about how the child is performing and any plans of action that can be taken to support the child are vital to success.
I will back up a bit and talk directly to teachers. First of all, thank you for your dedication. You are working hard to create nurturing environments for students. You work hard each and every day, as well as during your evenings and weekends to create lessons that will work for all of the learners you guide on a daily basis. I know how challenging this is and many times it is underappreciated. You are not only working on the lessons and the tools needed to implement them, you are instructing large groups of children and managing them all day long. It can be exhausting, but also very fulfilling. Sometimes it seems overwhelming. Many times your schools don’t provide time during the day to prepare for conferences, and this means it is another thing you are preparing for during the evenings. With all of that in mind, try not to wait until the last minute to prepare for these conferences. Parents will only have about 15 minutes of your time. You want to make the most of it. Consider sharing student work with parents. Be sure to discuss strengths as well as areas for improvement. Be honest and open but also remember that these children are the most important people to these parents. Avoid teacher jargon. Parents don’t understand a lot of the vocabulary that teachers use. Be mindful of the time and make sure that the parents aren’t late for their next appointment.
Parents, now that you have read what the teachers are doing, be sure you are on time. Do not bring little ones with you. Take the time to get a babysitter. It is very difficult to have open discussions with siblings there. It also slows the process down. You know you are only going to have 10 to 15 minutes of the teacher’s time, so you want to be ready to go. Show up ready to listen. Have your questions ready to ask at the end of the conference. Stay positive. If you have concerns ask them openly. If you run out of time, be sure to ask for an additional conference so you can get your questions answered.
To both teachers and parents, my best advice is to be respectful of one another. I cannot tell you how many times a parent has taken their frustrations about their child’s performance out on me, as the teacher. While I can appreciate the frustration, if they are frustrated, so am I. We need to see these conferences as a team. Staying professional and considerate will be the best way to move forward.
Another piece of advice is, do not wait until conferences to ask questions to the teacher, or as the teacher, reach out to the parents. Waiting until the conferences is waiting too long. It is important to get the communication going sooner than later. If you haven’t reached out yet, you can still open the doors to that. Send an email or call and leave a message. This is so important!
Parents, if you discover that there is a need for improvement, ask questions. Don’t accuse, just ask for information about what needs to happen to move your child forward. It is really important because you need to see yourself as a member of the team that is supporting your child. If you find out that your child needs to practice material, then take that seriously. Teachers would love to give their students all of the time they need to study and take care of things during the school day. The reality of this is that there simply isn’t enough time. Especially if your child has somehow fallen behind.
Once you know what your child needs to work on, as a parent, know that it is okay to ask for resources. Teachers have all kinds of resources that can support learning. However, if you ask for the resources, I really hope you use them. Teachers will go out of their way to provide what you need, but the expectation is that you will work with your child at home.
I hope these ideas will create a great experience for the teacher and the parents during Parent Teacher Conferences.
If you discover your elementary-aged child is in need of a tutor, feel free to reach out to me. I can work with you and your child’s teacher to move them forward in their learning. For more information, go to midwesttutor.com or fill out the contact form below. Best wishes for a great Parent Teacher Conference!