Attending Parent Teacher Conferences; What questions should you ask?
Parent Teacher Conferences. Whoa. They even sound scary. I consider my teacher attire to be fairly casual; khakis, cardigans, and flats. Nothing too crazy. For parent-teacher conferences, though, I pull out all of the stops. My shoes get a little higher, I dust off my watch, construct a respectable up-do, and might even add a pair of glasses as the final touch.
However scary they seem, I really rather enjoy these conferences and do perform some preparation beyond my appearance. As we just wrapped up another round of conferences for the year, I got to wondering about the parent perspective of these conferences. Are some of the parents also a little wary of these meetings?
Let me weigh in with some of my own advice based on my experiences as a teacher with parent-teacher conferences.
- Tell me about your child. I really do want to know. I do my very best to relate to each of my students in a way that interests them, but you can give me insight into his or her interests too! Nobody knows your child better than you do. Share a fun story, tell me his or her favorite food, really anything. Plus hearing a parent talk about their child reveals a little about them as well.
- Make me aware of anything going on at home. Illness, divorce, new babies, and anything out of the ordinary may affect your child’s behavior or attitude at school. If you are willing to share, your child’s teacher is willing to listen and may be the exact person to help relieve some pressure your child is experiencing.
- Ask me what your child is doing well in my class. I have answers, examples, and stories to tell! Allow the teacher to share these things.
- Ask if there are areas in which your child can improve. This one is tough but if parents are willing to listen with open minds, it doesn’t have to be. Respond with an open mind as well. Remember your child’s teacher wants your child to succeed. This is not an attack.
- Ask me about your child’s performance. Are they performing at grade level? Don’t let this become a comparison to other students, rather discuss grade-level expectations and whether or not your child is meeting in them in different areas.
- Depending on the answers to the above questions, ask if you can help. Ask if there is anything you can do to assist your child in succeeding. Chances are your child’s teacher has plenty of good advice or suggestions for how you can bolster your child’s success in the classroom.
- Share contact information. Of course, as a teacher, I am privy to contact information for parents, but share your preferred method of contact with this teacher and be clear about any information you might want from them. If you want an email every time your child acts out in class, don’t be afraid to ask for that. If you would like the teacher to shoot you a text with an update of your child’s grade, it’s likely that he or she will be willing to do so. Don’t be afraid to ask!
- Any other concerns? Share them! Be open, listen, and ask questions and you are likely to have a good experience which will hopefully relay into a seamless school year and a successful student!