Parents and teachers are partners, working together to help kids reach their full potential. That’s why parent-teacher conferences aren’t all about grades. Think of these meetings as powerful opportunities to learn more about the child’s needs, strengths, and personality. Here are some tips to help you make the most of those PTCs.
Respect the teacher
This sounds so basic, but many parents will be rude, argumentative, or defensive—especially if the grades aren’t what they expect. Acknowledge that a teacher brings a breadth of experience from teaching all kinds of children. She spends more time with your child than you do, so she has the capability to share with you insights.
Keep an open mind
Sometimes your personal biases—even those you may not even realize you have—can get in the way of a positive and collaborative relationship. Ask yourself, what is it about this teacher that I do not like? Is it crucial to my child’s education or is it only a matter of personal taste? (e.g. her high-pitched voice, her weird hairstyle, or her smile that doesn’t seem as wide as last year’s teacher).
Make a list of topics to discuss with the teacher. Besides grades and behavior, you may want to talk to the teacher about your child’s home life, hobbies, his behavior before and after school, his study habits, or other issues that can help the teacher-student relationship throughout the year.
Get your child’s input.
Before the meeting, find out which subjects your child likes and dislikes. Ask why. Ask if there is anything he would like you to talk about with the teacher. Share the results of the meeting. Let him know that you and his teacher are working together to help him improve his performance in school.
Develop an action plan.
If the student needs help with a behavioral or an academic issue, find concrete ways you and the teacher can work together to address the problem. (‘Ok, your teacher tells me you have problems with reading. How about if we set aside 30 minutes a day, just the two of us, to read a chapter of a book of your choice?’).