Apr
23
2012

Three Tips for Successful Teacher-Parent Conferences

Guest Post by Kathern Rivas

Typically teacher-parent conferences are
not called into session strictly because it’s “routine.” Usually
there is a problem, either the student is acting out and causing disruption in
class or is having a poor performance (sometime a combination of the two).
While teacher-parent conferences can be scary for the student, it can be
equally as scary for teachers—especially
new
teachers that don’t have much experience engaging with parents. If not
handled in the right manner, a parent can end up blaming you, the teacher, for their child’s low grades instead of
considering a magnitude of different factors. That said, to help ensure that
your first and last teacher-parent conference goes smoothly, consider some of
these tips listed below.


Consider Having the Student Present.
Traditionally most teachers like to make
teacher-parent conferences exclusively for the teacher and parents; however it
might be a better idea to include the principle person who is up for discussion—the
student.  This way, the student is aware
of what exactly is going on and is able to defend him or herself if the
opportunity arises. This also makes it harder for the student to put the blame
entirely on you (a frequent go-to defensive mechanism) when parents confront
their children about the matters discussed in the conference at home.  The student will be more obligated to speak
truthfully with you and his or her
parents in the same room.


Give Video Chatting/ Phone Call an Option.
Most teacher-parent conferences
are conducted in person, but sometimes parents are extremely busy with work and
cannot attend (or have a very odd schedule); others have transportation
difficulties and cannot drive to the school. If this is the case and parents try
to avoid/ can’t attend a teacher-parent conference, offer to do it online— with
modern technological advancements like Skype and other video-chatting software,
these conferences  don’t need to be done
in person anymore. If parents don’t have internet, the phone can suffice too.


Lead with Positive Attributes.
Lastly, parents already know when a teacher-parent conference is
requested that something isn’t quite right, but don’t just immediately spurt
out a long list of their child’s weakness —some parents will immediately get on
the defense and will stop listening to what you have to say. Highlight some
positive attributes and discuss the student’s strengthens instead before diving
into the weaknesses. Once you do start talking about the weaknesses however you
want to make sure that you have tons of material that will support your claims
(such as graded tests and specific situations) that will help the parents
understand what’s going on. This is the perfect opportunity to investigate
whether something may be occurring at home that may reflect why the student is
doing poorly, but try not to sound accusatory. Innocently ask if the parents
have any ideas or thoughts of why their child might be struggling. This is also
the perfect opportunity to provide your own suggestions of steps the student
needs to make in improving their efforts.

This guest post is contributed by Katheryn Rivas, who writes on the topics of online universities
advice
.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: katherynrivas87@gmail.com.

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