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Similar to our personal lives, it may sometimes feel like we conduct the majority of our communication over devices. This is often the case with the parents of our students too.

We’re busy, they’re busy, and email, text, social media, and other platforms and apps may seem the easiest way to go.

Luckily, we will have scheduled parent-teacher conferences throughout the year that will provide us with the face-to-face communication that is so important. Careful preparation can help you and the parents get the most benefit from these meetings.

Impromptu parent meeting

Of course, if a situation ever arises where a child is having a challenging time or is under-performing, it is important to call an impromptu meeting rather than trying to resolve the situation digitally.

It’s always good practice to keep parents in the loop as challenges become more noticeable rather than calling for a conference as your first step.

Parents have a lot on their plates, especially if their child is going through a difficult time, and it’s unfair to create more stress for them by failing to communicate. Put yourself in their shoes and think about how you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.

Putting unplanned conferences to one side, let’s focus on the regularly scheduled conferences and take a look at some strategies that can help both you and parents get the most out of these meetings.

Be prepared

Bring examples of the student’s classwork, and if there are any areas where they may be struggling be sure to provide the parents with concrete examples. When you are fully prepared for the conference it is easier to voice any concerns while remaining objective. Show rather than tell.

If there is a lengthy conversation about their child’s challenges be sure to buffer that with some mention of the areas where they are doing well. If appropriate, discuss with the parents any extra help that may be beneficial to their child’s academic performance.

In fact, it’s always important to highlight what is going well rather than only discussing problematic areas.

Here are a few ideas to help you and the parents get the most out of the meeting:
  • Create a takeaway for the parents to take home
  • Ask for feedback
  • It may be difficult, but be sure to bring up any areas of concern

Have an agenda for important points to cover during the conference

Discuss any major testing that is coming up or changes to class schedules that they need to be aware of. Give an overview of the subject matter that is being taught and the methods that are used during the lessons. Go over any future field trips or immersive learning modules that the kids may feel nervous about.

Stay to your agenda, but also allow for free-form discussion should the need arise.

Make the parents feel welcome is an important part of the process

Try to make the conference as collaborative as possible, it’s important that the parents feel engaged in the process. Don’t talk at them but encourage a conversation where you provide information while also welcoming their feedback and input.

Don’t be shy about bringing up any concerns, but be sure to also provide a solution to any problems that concern their child.

Leave the door open at the end of the conference by stressing to the parents that you are in this together and that you welcome their future input. Make sure to end on a high note that stresses the proactive strategies that you use. Parent-teacher conferences are a great opportunity to deepen your bond with your student’s parents!

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