Meeting with parents is always a good opportunity to get the communication lines open. But even good intentions for the outcome of parent teacher conferences can go awry if you're not organized in advance. You can prepare for parent teacher conferences by putting some thought and effort into the meetings ahead of time. Here's how:
Set a date far in advance. If you ask for a parent teacher conference, it's important to give the parents as much advanced warning as possible. As a common courtesy, give at least a few weeks notice so that the parents can schedule any necessary absences from work in order to attend the parent teacher conference. You might also ask the parents which days work best for them, and set a mutually agreeable time for the conference. Call them a few days beforehand to remind them of the meeting and to re-confirm that they'll be able to attend.
Write down what you'd like to discuss. If you call a parent teacher conference, you're expected to lead the meeting. To properly prepare for a parent teacher conference means having an agenda laid out ahead of time. Write down what you'd like to discuss at the meeting, and any goals you'd like to accomplish before the parents leave. It's always a good idea to start off your thoughts about the child by mentioning a few positives first. (Try saying, ‘he has made these improvements, and he has really come a long way with his independent work...'). Parents will be happy to have the meeting start off on a positive note. After that, you can bring up any difficulties you're having with the child.
Bring examples. If there is a specific aspect of a child's work or behavior that you want to discuss at a parent teacher conference, try to bring examples. This is far easier than trying to explain how a child is struggling (or succeeding), and it will take much less time.
Have the principal present. If you are discussing an important issue about a child, it might be a good idea to invite the principal to attend. He can help to mediate during difficult discussions. And having an authority figure on your side is always great when parents are upset or surprised by the topics discussed during a parent teacher conference.
Give the parents some strategies. Student behavior will improve more if there is consistency between the home and school environment. Take advantage of parent teacher conferences by ending them with some ‘next steps'. Give parents some materials to take home. List some suggestions that they can implement with their own child to help bring about the changes you all are hoping to see.
Make sure that you always invite parents to communicate with you. You're both on the same team, hoping for the best for every child. Ensure parents have several different ways to contact and communicate with you, and urge them to get in touch if they have any concerns, small or large. Email, telephone or after-school drop-ins are all great ways to invite parents to continue to communicate with you long after parent teacher conferences have ended.