This post was originally published January 25, 2018 and edited November 9, 2018.
Get the most out of parent-teacher conferences.
The relationship between you – the parent – and your child’s teacher is a partnership; at least that’s how it should be treated.
Treating your child’s teacher like the only authority or grown-up in parent-teacher conferences is not an effective basis for communication. It’s not a good way to ensure the needs of your child are met.
Establish Goals for Your Parent-Teacher Conference
Counter the tendency to revert to childhood by making a list of your communication goals for the conference. Take personal responsibility for making sure those goals are met.
Your goals can be getting questions answered, such as:
Is my child meeting behavioral expectations at school?
How well is my child navigating the social landscape of school?
How are my child’s academic skills progressing?
You may have more specific questions as well, perhaps regarding issues that developed the previous year or over the summer.
Do not assume the teacher knows everything about your child’s history.
Not only is it impossible for a teacher to read the entire cumulative file for every one of the 30-plus students in the classroom, but many choose not to read up on students for fear of taking on preconceived ideas about the kids.
Share Information that Could Be Useful
If there is anything new happening in your child’s life, such as a new sibling, a new daycare situation, or a recent family crisis of any kind, make sure to let the teacher know.
Children react to stress in a variety of ways. Unusual or unruly behavior is more easily explainable and addressable if the teacher knows the cause.
Be a Team Player
Once you have asked all your questions and provided all the information you wish to share, you and the teacher can brainstorm solutions to any problems that you have identified.
You and the teacher are partners for this year in the care and education of your child. Developing a cooperative working relationship is a big part of making this a positive year for everyone—and going into the parent-teacher conference well-prepared and feeling like an adult is a good way to start.
Extending understanding for the teacher (who is, after all, only human) will help, too.