6 Tips For Rocking Your Next Parent-Teacher Conferences

2 min


Parent-teacher Conferences can be the stuff of nightmares. After spending over 40 hours a week with students, your main clientele, it can be difficult to put on another hat and speak to the tree the apple fell from. These meetings can be a bit sensitive – paying close attention to the precise verbiage and intonation you use can make or break the entire rendezvous. But fear not, fellow teachers! Here are some helpful tips to rocking your next parent-teacher conference:

1. Prep prep prep prep prep.

Parent Teacher Conference tips

You prep for every single lesson you do, so why should it be any different for conferences? I like to take a minute and sit with my roster, quietly thinking about each student when I come across their name on the list. What makes them unique? What do I LOVE about each of these students? How are they doing academically? What behavioral, social, emotional challenges am I noticing both inside and outside of the classroom? As I do this, I quickly jot down notes on each student. Is this exhausting and time-consuming? HELL YES. Does it make my parent/teacher conferences go so much smoother? HELL YES. A little bit of time upfront saves me in the long run.

2. Start with the positive.

Parent Teacher conferences Tips_Positive

Contrary to popular belief, teachers don’t love to randomly punish students or say negative things about struggling kids. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Teachers relish saying wonderful things about your child, dear parent! In fact, it’s the best part of our job! Even if I have a devil child in my classroom, I can ALWAYS find a silver lining. Teachers have to lure parents into the palm of their hand by praising parents’ lovebugs before they tread into choppier waters. We need to communicate to parents that we adore their children, which is why we want to help them as much as we can.

3. Give concrete examples of misbehaviors instead of general statements.

Saying, “Suzie sometimes says unkind things in class” can be argued and twisted.  Saying “Last Monday during centers, Suzie insulted Danny because he couldn’t pronounce the word ‘ocean’” leaves little wiggle room for the parent. Sure, parents can argue with you and deny the incident, but having concrete examples paints a vivid picture of repetitive behaviors that need to be corrected. The more information you have about little Suzie, the better. Stick to fact-stating instead of your own opinion. It’s a bit harder to disagree with.

4. Don’t immediately hand over the report card.

Parent Teacher Conference Tips_Report cards

Handing over an academic scorecard immediately shows parents that we are here for one thing and one thing only – grades. School is about so much more than getting straight As and educators must help parents get out of this mindset by guiding them in the right direction.  In my opinion, report cards should be handed out towards the end of a conference because once you hand out that bad boy, parents stop listening. So, start the meeting talking about something other than academics. Character qualities are just as important and rarely receive equal playing time.

5. Give parents the solution in addition to the problem.

Most parents want to help…they just don’t quite know how to. Letting parents know about challenges doesn’t really do anything to solve the problem. You can say “Teresa is having some issues with reading comprehension”, but what does that really do to help Teresa? Giving one to two solutions to the problem will empower parents so they know exactly what they can do to help their child. We forget that most parents aren’t educators. We need to help them support their child in any way they can.

6. Work with parents to set one to two goals for their child for the next semester.

Parent Teacher Conferences Tips_Work with the parent_hand shake

Goal-setting is a key component in these meetings, especially as the child gets older. Including both the child and the parents in this conversation allows all parties to feel involved and capable of reaching those goals. It can be overwhelming to hear some type of negative feedback, but with a game plan and a roadmap, everything becomes easier. Goal-setting is key to propelling a child forward on the right educational path.

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mscourterrest

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Abigail Courter is a fifth year music teacher at a K-8 private school in California.  She has taught general music, band, music technology, and performing arts.

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