Skip To Main Content

Parent Conferences

A parent conference is a meeting between a student's parents, teacher, and, perhaps, the student to discuss the child's progress academically, socially and with regard to expected classroom behavior. Parent Teacher Conferences can be intimidating for even the most veteran teacher. However, when handled correctly, these conferences are an opportunity to form a strong, collaborative relationship with the parent. This will allow for open communication between home and school.

Tips for a Successful Conference

Tip #1: Start and end each conference on a positive note. Often times, the parents are nervous about the conference. Begin the conference by sharing some of the positive accomplishments of the student. This will set the parents at ease, making it easier for you to explain some areas of improvement. After discussing the areas of improvement, finish the conference with more positives so that the parents feel good when they leave. Structuring the conference this way will allow you to create a positive working relationship with the parents.

Tip #2: Let the data do the talking. Be prepared with a student data notebook, a student portfolio, or samples of student work. When discussing specific learning goals for the student, provide evidence to the parents of what you observed in the class work that shows a need for improvement. You should also be prepared to show samples of the work that the student has done well.

Tip #3: Be organized. Complete a pre-conference form for each student, complete with talking points, space for your notes and follow-up agreements. Your organization and attention to detail will make a good impression on the parents and will help inspire the parents' confidence in your abilities.

Tip #4: Actively listen to what the parents are saying. When the parents are talking, concentrate on really hearing what they are trying to communicate to you - pay attention to the nonverbal communication, too. Allow parents to talk without interruption. Make eye contact and keep your body language open. Don't jump on the defensive. When parents know you are listening to what they are saying, forming a collaborative relationship with them is more likely to occur.

Tip #5: Plan ahead of time. Consider where the room setup for the conference. Avoid a situation which puts you on one side of a desk or table with the parents sitting on the other side. This puts a barrier between you and can result in the parents feeling unwelcome. Move desks in a circle or have a table set up with you sitting beside the parents instead of across from them. Have your documentation, papers, and any parent resources together and ready to go over or to hand to the parent.

Tip #6: Allow the student to lead the conference. This allows students to take responsibility for their learning. It allows them to understand they are in control of their own efforts to learn the material. By having students set goals, assess how they are progressing toward meeting those goals, they will know how much they have grown and how far they have to go to meet their goals.