Did you know? According to the article, Parent Involvement and Student Academic Performance: A Multiple Mediational Analysis, “. . . increased parent involvement, defined as the teacher’s perception of the positive attitude parents have toward their child’s education, teacher, and school, was significantly related to increased academic performance, measured by both a standardized achievement test and teacher ratings of the child’s classroom academic performance.”
Learn how to productively and positively lead a conference, and to encourage parents to attend. Use these tips that will help you to create a strong rapport with parents at the beginning of the school year, which in turn will set the stage for future discussions, which can sometimes cover topics that are difficult to talk about. Below are tips that I wish I knew before becoming a teacher, or at least had the opportunity to read to prepare myself for the variety of personalities that I would face. Discover some common elements that parents expect from their child’s teacher.
Encourage Parents to Attend
Some parents will not make an effort to attend parent-teacher conferences; however, it’s important to make sure they know that parent engagement is a critical part of their child’s success. Some parents will say that they cannot attend when conferences are being held, so it’s important to make them accountable by offering to come in before school or to stay after school hours to make sure that they have the same opportunity as the other parents in the class. Also, don’t forget to ask for each parent’s contact information and the best way to reach them, even if they cannot attend.
Lead the Conversation
For parents that do attend, it is common for them to come into a conference with a plan of what they want to talk about; however, with the limited time available, be sure to lead the conversation so that you can make the best use of the time alotted.
Prepare Ahead & Start with a Positive
Remember that your students are their parent’s world. Always have a list of positive topics and compliments so that the comments about areas of improvement are outweighed by positives. They want to feel like you truly know their child and are invested in their success. Once parents feel like you have any sort of negative feeling about their child, it becomes harder to build their trust.
It’s important to provide examples and to prove your statements. This goes for everything – positives and areas for improvement. For instance, if you mention that a child is making an effort to include others, give them a scenario to back it up. Parents will love to hear this and will want to share this with their child after the conference.
Some schools let parents choose the time that they are scheduled for parent-teacher conferences, and others allow the teacher to decide. If you work in a district that allow teachers to set up the appointments, order your conferences from what you expect to be the simplest to the toughest. Conferences that are more difficult tend to run over the amount of time, so having them first can sometimes cause the appointments to back up.
Hold Students Accountable
It’s important for students to be aware of the topics that you will discuss with their parents. For example, I would always have my students write their parents a letter or a self-evaluation. Either of these should include information about the following:
- Areas of Improvement
- Social Skills
- What they are most excited for
- What they are most proud of
Make Parents Smile
Prepare ahead of time by having your students make something that you can put in a basket in the hallway for parents to look at. Sometimes the small touches mean to the most to parents.
Parent teacher conferences can be stressful and overwhelming, but these tips will help you smooth out some of the kinks you may experience during conferences. Always remember – you are in charge. Good luck with conferences!