Parents are their kids’ first teachers. As a result, parent-teacher conferences can be extremely important for children’s educational development. Whenever possible, try to work out times when the teacher is available so that you and your child’s teacher can meet in formal or informal meetings. It is important to hear from your child’s teacher first hand about their progress, behaviors, and overall well-being while at school!
The Best Time To Conduct Parent-Teacher Conferences
The best time to schedule parent-teacher conferences is before school. Trying to schedule an appointment during lunch or recess periods are inconvenient options, especially for teachers who have many students. Also, try to avoid scheduling appointments at the end of the day because this can be exhausting for both parents and teachers. Most schools have set days each semester where conferences are conducted. Students may be let out of school early or even have the day off so that parents and teachers can meet that day. Sending out a slip beforehand where parents can select the time they come is also very helpful!
8 Ways Teachers Can Improve Conferences With Parents
Here are eight strategies teachers can use when working on improving parent-teacher conferences.
#1: Keep The Conference Short And Sweet
The longer a conference goes on, the less meaning it has. Parents and teachers should set a maximum time limit so that there is enough time for everyone to voice their concerns and opinions, but not too much time where the meeting goes off-topic! Keeping conferences short also ensures that both parents and teachers can keep focused on the main issues at hand.
#2: Use The Conference As An Opportunity To Improve Your Teaching Skills
Conference time doesn’t have to be all about what the parents need to do. Teachers should use conference time as a way for them to improve their teaching skills! There are many things that teachers can learn from parents, such as tips on how they can encourage better behavior or keep their kids more attentive. Teachers should also take notes so that they can reference them later for future lessons!
#3: Create An Atmosphere Where Parents And Teachers Can Speak Openly
Parents and teachers should create an environment where all parties feel safe speaking their minds. If there are no concerns or problems then the other person will not feel the need to say anything. When everyone is comfortable talking about the issues, then more productive conversations will occur!
#4: Be Self-Reflective And Active Listeners
Teachers need to be reflective of what parents are saying instead of continuously interrupting them or finishing their sentences. This can be difficult because it is hard for anybody to listen actively. Teachers should take notes while they are listening to what parents have to say so that they can address the issues later on without forgetting anything!
#5: Keep Conferences As Informal As Possible
Keeping conferences informal will make them more productive. When everyone is on their best behavior, then both sides will find it easier to have meaningful conversations. Teachers can remind parents that there are no rules or restrictions on how they should talk, being open is always best!
#6: Keep Up-To-Date Records Of Your Students’ Performance
Keeping records of your students is an important part of conferences because it gives parents an insight into what their child is doing in the classroom. Keeping up-to-date grades and test scores will help communicate how well a student is progressing. If there are no records, then parents may think that their issues aren’t being addressed or that the teacher doesn’t care about their concerns.
#7: Establish A Rapport With Parents So That They Feel Welcome To Come By Anytime
Establishing a rapport with parents means that they feel welcome to come by anytime. If the parents and teachers have a good relationship then there is less pressure during conferences because all parties can communicate their issues and concerns freely! The last thing that anybody needs is to spend time on formalities and small talk!
#8: Treat Parents With Respect And Be Honest About Your Concerns
Teachers need to treat parents with respect and be honest about their concerns. If there is something that is bothering the teacher then they can say it in a way where everyone feels comfortable enough to talk about it. Teachers should never hold back information or concerns because that can be seen as a cover-up! If parents feel disrespected by the teacher, then trust will be broken and they may not come back to conferences in the future.
Having mature discussions with your student’s parents is a large part of being a teacher. Be sure to always be respectful and make it the easiest experience possible.
Navigating PT Conferences Online vs In-person
Now, you need to know how to navigate parent-teacher conferences online AND in person. The world is becoming more and more digital, but some parents still prefer to meet in person. Let’s look at the steps to navigate through each type of conference.
Online Parent-Teacher Conferences
Online parent-teacher conferences are becoming more and more common. Here’s the steps to navigate them:
#1: Discussing Your Online Conference Options With Parents
The first thing that teachers should do when scheduling online parent-teacher conferences with parents is to make sure they are aware of all available options. Some parents may not know that you can have an online conference, while others would prefer not to because it feels distant. You need to be open about your availability so that parents can decide what is best for their child.
#2: Using Webcams So Parents Can See You And Their Child
Using webcams allows both the teacher and parents to see each other face-to-face. When using webcams, teachers should make sure everything is lighting properly and that they are wearing something that doesn’t blend into the background. This is important because it allows parents to feel like you are looking at their child instead of just staring at the screen!
#3: Scheduling The Online Conferences And Following Up With Parents
The next step after discussing online options with your students’ parents is to schedule them. You need to make sure that parents can make it to the conference and if they cannot, then find an alternative option. After you’ve scheduled the online conferences, always follow up with parents just in case something happens and they cannot attend!
In-Person Parent-Teacher Conferences
In-person parent-teacher conferences are the traditional way to discuss student progress with parents, but many schools are beginning to opt for online conferences because they are becoming more popular. Here are the steps to navigate in-person parent-teacher conferences:
#1: Reminding Parents Of The Conference Before It Starts
The first step in navigating in-person parent-teacher conferences is to remind parents of the conference. This is important because you need to let parents know that they have an upcoming conference so that they are prepared for it! Make sure to remind parents a few days before the conference so that they have time to mentally prepare for it.
#2: Avoiding Small Talk And Getting To The Point
In-person parent-teacher conferences are great because you get to see parents face-to-face. However, this also means that small talk is a thing! Teachers should avoid it at all costs and get right down to business. Going off on tangents will waste time and distract the parents from what you want to talk about.
#3: Letting Parents Interact With Their Child During Class Time
The last step in navigating in-person parent-teacher conferences is to allow parental interaction during class time. Teachers should take a few minutes at the end of the conference for parents and their child to interact with each other. This is important because it allows parents to bond with their child during the conference and helps them understand what’s going on in class.
Teachers should always be planning ahead and preparing for the next conference, and this includes parent-teacher conferences. Make sure that parents feel respected and comfortable throughout the conference. Be clear about your online options with them so that they can understand what you are doing, then schedule online conferences accordingly. Lastly, remind parents of their upcoming conference before it begins and take a few minutes in the end for parents to interact with their children. With these effective parent-teacher conference strategies, both the teacher and parents will have a stress-free time during parent-teacher conferences!
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