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Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Some tips for successful meetings with parents or guardians:

  • Don’t wait to make contact until it’s time to schedule a conference. Send parents/guardians a memo or newsletter when the school year starts or even prior to the start of school.
  • Start an anecdotal record for students with serious behavioral or learning problems.
  • Schedule adequate time. Remember to allow yourself enough time to write notes after one meeting and before the next conference begins.
  • Try scheduling your conferences at unconventional times and places to accommodate the differing needs of today’s families.
  • Consider creating a fact sheet about your classroom to give to parents at the conference. Make clear to parents your expectations and important due dates as well as your policies on late homework, absences and makeup work.
  • Make parents or guardians feel welcome. Post a sign outside the room with your name, the room number and your conference appointment schedule clearly marked. Try to arrange conference-style seating, rather than sitting behind your desk.
  • Arrange for special assistance in advance. If, for example, the parents of a student have difficulty with English, you might arrange for someone who speaks their native language to be present at the conference.
  • Set a positive tone. Open with a positive statement about the child’s work habits, interests or abilities. Wherever possible during the conference, include good news about the student.
  • Be specific. When commenting on positive or negative aspects of a student’s work, use specific examples.
  • Take a problem-solving approach. Focus on the child’s strengths throughout the conference and frame any difficulties as “areas of need.” Ask for the parents’ or guardians’ opinions.
  • Stress cooperation. Let parents know that you want to work together to help their child succeed.
  • End on a positive note. Summarize the actions each of you will take. Offer to meet again. Be sure to thank the parent(s) or guardians for coming in.
  • Keep a record of the conference. Keep notes that summarize your conversations. Include specific suggestions for improvement that were discussed during the conference.
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