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Jan
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2021
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Dr. Kara A. Loftin
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Parent-teacher Conferences

The most effective school-home partnerships are bi-directional and use child-focused approaches wherein families and educators cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate to enhance opportunities for success for students across social, emotional, behavioral, and academic domains. What we know from a vast body of research over the past four decades is that home-school partnerships steeped in open and honest communication, along with responsibility-taking for working together as a team and shared common goals, resulting in mutual child-centered decision-making focused on positive student outcomes. It is within this relationship of families and professionals that every child’s education takes place. As parents and schools learn the value of collaboration, communication, and creating meaningful partnerships, together we create an educational environment that supports the abilities of all children to succeed.

The following provides a guide to navigate through the Parent-Teacher Conference process:

A Parent’s Guide to Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Before the Conference

  • Review any school materials and correspondence you have already been given (work samples, homework, teacher notes, goals and objectives, reports, assessment information, etc.).
  • Talk with your student. Ask questions about what subjects your child likes the least or the most and why, who the child connects the most with at school, and if there is a teacher they want to make sure you connect with, for example.
  • Prepare a list of notes and questions for the conference. What pressing needs would you like to discuss with your child’s teachers? Are there things that your child’s teachers should know about major changes in your family or living situation? Is there anything worrying your child?
  • If the conference is virtual, practice using the interface platform before the conference. For the Lower/Middle School, Google Meet will be used. To reduce stress, familiarize yourself with it beforehand. Check your internet connection and plan now how to reduce distractions during the conference.

During the Conference

  • A universal experience at schools is that parent-teacher conferences are short and every minute counts! Be on time.
  • Be yourself and stay calm. There may be times when you may need further clarification. Ask for explanations of anything you don’t understand.
  • Cover your most important questions and concerns first. Conference time goes quickly. You can ask for a follow-up meeting with a teacher to discuss things you did not get to.
  • Make a plan for follow-up.

After the Conference

  • Talk to your child. What can you share that was positive? Was an action plan developed? If so, explain it to them and let them know that you and their teacher created this plan to help them.
  • Start working on the action plan and stay in touch with your child’s teachers.

 

A Teacher’s Guide to Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Before the Conference

  • If the parent and teacher have not been in contact before parent-teacher conferences, take time to do that now. You can reach out with a positive story to share or even to pre-plan the discussion by asking if there are any specific questions or topics the parent would like to discuss at the conference.
  • No surprises. It is important that parents are not surprised during the conference. If there are challenges to discuss, pre-plan your approach, and inform the parents ahead of time.
  • Gather all of the data for that student so that the information you need is quickly accessible. With virtual parent-teacher conferences, have tabs open on your computer and be ready to screen-share as necessary.

During the Conference

  • Start on time and end on time. Practice your pacing.
  • To build successful home-school partnerships, there needs to be space and mutual respect for each voice at the table. Ask open-ended questions and check for understanding. You could ask, What questions do you have for me? What goals do you have for your child this year?
  • Take notes, set goals together, and mention plans for follow-through.
  • End by thanking the parent for their partnership.

After the Conference

  • Take a deep breath! Conferences can be stressful for parents and teachers alike. Acknowledge what went well.
  • Reach out to the parents with follow-up information, action plans, or other relevant information.

Dr. Kara A. Loftin

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