It is extremely important to have good working relationships between parents and teachers. A parent is really the child's first teacher and critical to student success is the involvement of the parent. It is critical that both parent and teacher know that the goals for the child are indeed shared goals, both teacher and parent want what is best for the child/student.
Parents of struggling students are already overwhelmed and often have unpleasant experiences with the parent/teacher conference. It is extremely important to keep the doors open and welcome parents to share in the educational goals of the student. How can you ensure that you have a productive Parent Teacher Meeting/Conference?
Follow these tips:
- Give your parents plenty of notice about the upcoming conference. Provide them with a few things they could discuss at the interview - for instance, tell them you would like to know about the child's likes and dislikes, how homework is handled at home and what their attitudes towards school or specific subjects is like. Remember, many of your students come from a single parent home, you'll need to see if they would like to meet together for the interview or have separate interviews.
- When greeting parents at the interview, be sure to start on a positive note. Smile, thank them for coming and begin with some positive remarks about their child. Identify a strength and ask the parent to embelish upon one also.
- Discuss your routines, rules and homework policies with parents. Ask if they have any questions.
- Discuss the child's preferred learning activities and discuss your areas of concern. Be sure to let the parents know how the areas of concern can be addressed. For instance, if the child is quite weak in reading, find out how the parents can help and list some preferred activities when assisting with reading. If you have behavior difficulties, prioritize 1 or 2 behaviors to focus on and only work toward strategies for those (at this time). If you're using a behavior contract or management plan, be sure that the parents are on board.
- If you have any reading material that may help the parent understand the nature of the child's difficulty, be prepared to share it with the parents. Always, remind the parent that your goals are shared, you both wants what's best.
- Conclude your meeting with a sincere thank you, remind parents that they have taken a keen interest in their child's education and that the door is always open. Remind them that it's their positive attitude toward learning that will help their child grow both academically and socially. Provide a time frame for a follow up visit or telephone call. Agree to send home notes that recognizing something positive as well as newsletters to keep parents in the loop.
See also Resolving Conflict Effectively