What message should I convey at Parent-Teacher Conferences?
We all know how important strong, healthy relationships are between school and home and that children, parents, and teachers all benefit when these relationships are positive and productive. Parent Teacher Conferences offer a chance for the child, parent, and teacher to develop a shared plan. So, what message should we attempt to convey at parent-teacher conferences? I would suggest that the goal is to let parents know we are:
Positive and Caring: We want parents to know that we care about their child… as a unique individual. We see their child’s strengths and believe in their ability to succeed. To that end, we purposefully share more strengths and celebrations than we do challenges and frustrations. Strive for a 4:1 ratio.
Competent and Prepared: We also know that all children can learn, but they don’t all learn the same. We want parents to know we are working hard to bring out the best in their child. When we share struggles and challenges, we come prepared with solutions or at least questions. Consider using the Parent Teacher Checklist to guide your preparation.
Open and Collaborative: Ultimately, we want parents to understand that we are all partners in helping this unique child learn and grow.
Ask questions to listen. Seek to understand.
Take a team approach.
Finally, remember that parents bring their own history to a parent-teacher conference. Some have never been to one… or have had bad experiences… some have language barriers… or cultural barriers… and some aren’t sure how to help their child or how to respond to a teacher’s concerns about their child.
That said, we help set the tone and when we strive to convey the right message, we also help them see how they can work with us to help their child.