Parent-Teacher conferences are important, however, along with them comes a lot of anxiety and questions for both parents and students! Today I will address some common questions that I get from parents about talking to teachers and preparing for conferences.
Common Question: Do I still need to go to Parent-Teacher Conferences if I know my kid has good grades in all their classes?
Answer: I suggest that you send an email to all the teachers and verify that there aren’t any other outstanding issues that should be discussed. School is more than just grades. Parent-Teacher conferences are a good time to talk about behavior problems, attendance issues, social concerns, and next grade level preparation. Make sure that the teacher doesn’t have anything that they want to discuss with you before you decide to skip the conference day.
Common Question: I know my child has some low grades and/or some behavioral concerns. Is there anything I should do before conferences to prepare for talking to the teacher(s)?
Answer: Contact the teacher via email and voice your concerns. Ask the teacher(s) if they want to meet you during conferences or at a different time to discuss the issues. The reason you want to do this is, conferences are very regimented. Usually, each family is only allowed a specific amount of time with the teacher in order to keep the day moving along. If the teacher thinks you will need extra time, then this must be prepared prior to the conference day. Perhaps the teacher can give you two conference slots or other arrangements can be made to give you the time you need to talk about your concerns.
Also, you may want to request an administrator, counselor, or special ed teacher to be in attendance at the conference also. This should be scheduled ahead of time.
Lastly, bring in all the documentation that the teacher may need. IEP, doctor recommendations, a list of concerns you see at home, 504 plans, behavioral plans, etc
Common Question: What if I am at the Parent-Teacher conferences and I find out that my child has some academic and/or behavioral concerns I didn’t know about? What should I do?
Answer: Be ready to hear the teacher out. Try not to automatically go on the defensive. Teachers see the “mama and daddy bear” stance a lot, but remember your child may act differently at school than they do at home. Keep in mind that most teachers want your child to be happy and successful too! Your goals are the same! Teachers and parents should have a partnership.
- Start by asking the teacher for their side of the story.
- Now give the child a chance to speak their side of the story and express their concerns.
- The goal now is to correct what can be corrected and move forward with a plan of action for improvement. Discuss the plan together: teacher, parent, and student. Make sure the plan is measurable, attainable/doable, and there are concrete explanations. For example, the student can not just say, “I will study more for tests.” Instead, the goals should be very specific: I will study every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday night for 30 minutes in this class. You may even add WHEN they will study? Designate a specific “homework hour” each evening.
Example of a goals sheet moving forward:
- Student will study every Monday-Thursday for 30 minutes.
- Student will keep locker clean and parents will check it every Friday at pick up
- Student will come in every Wednesday morning early to get questions answered.
- Student will study vocabulary words for the week Sunday night for 20 minutes.
- Student will not sit by friends in class. The assigned seat will be front row.
- Student will not partner with friends for group projects.
- Student will show their parent their planner each evening and tell them about homework.
- Student will keep old assignments when they are handed back and give them to parents.
- Student will check the school calendar for assignments and announcements every day at lunch.
- Once the plan is made, you should write it down. This is important. Writing it down to reference it back later is extremely helpful later when the child may “forget” some of the plans or you need to remind them of their commitment.
- Lastly, Make a reward and punishment system. There should be 2 types of rewards, one is for small short term gains that you can give for immediate feedback. Then there can be a bigger reward for maintaining the schedule the whole week or month. Lastly, make a plan for punishment if they aren’t holding up their end of the deal.
* This agreement INCLUDING THE REWARDS AND PUNISHMENTS should be made WITH the student. They should agree to the contract and have input on the rewards and punishments. Buy-in from the student is important and if they are not apart of creating the contract- they will never have buy-in.
If this email was helpful and you want more, watch this VIDEO giving you exactly the right questions to ask your teacher! Also follow The Impactful Parent on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and watch more impactful videos on YouTube!
Need more information about Parent-Teacher conferences? Make a comment and send a question to me in the comments.