Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Early Dismissal Days (12:40 Dismissal – Lunch will be served)

  • Tuesday, November 12          (K-6 only)
  • Wednesday, November 20      (K-8)
  • Wednesday, December 4        (K-12)
  • Tuesday, December 10           (K-8)

Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences begin in grades K-5 on November 12 and run through December 10.  As I noted in last week’s column about our new conference forms, parent conferences provide an opportunity for parents and teachers to take stock of how a child is doing and to identify goals for a child’s continued learning and development.  Conferences are an important way for you to be, in the words our school vision: “active, involved, and well-informed partners in the learning process.”

Here are some suggestions to help make these conversations productive and helpful:

  • Talk to your child before the conference. Ask what s/he likes about school, what s/he doesn’t like, what work is easy, what is challenging, and whether there was anything s/he wants the teacher to know.
  • Take time to be prepared.   Make a list of questions and concerns.  Prioritize your list so you’ll be sure to cover the most critical topics before your time is up at the conference. Write down your questions and concerns to refer to during the conference.
  • Assume good intentions and work to build mutual trust and respect. Effective communication begins with listening, using a respectful tone, and asking questions.  Both teachers and parents care deeply about children, which can sometimes lead to strong emotions.  We need to be mindful of when strong feelings may be interfering with communication.
  • Remember that we bring different perspectives.  Parents and teachers see children in different settings.   How a child functions in a large group or responds to the demands of school may be different than how a child acts at home.  Parents know their child over time. Teachers know how children are doing within what is typical or expected for the age group. Parents are advocates for their child. Teachers need to be advocates for all the children in their classroom.
  • At the end of your conference, be sure you leave with an understanding of goals and next steps for your child.

For additional suggestions and resources on parent-teacher conferences, I recommend this link from the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP): http://www.nasponline.org/resources/home_school/ptconf.aspx.

Rick Rogers
rick_rogers@brookline.k12.ma.us

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