When parent-teacher conference time rolls around, that appointment can feel either intimidating or unnecessary at times for parents.
I started wondering what it is like to sit on the other side of the table. So I asked a veteran teacher what her perspective on parent-teacher conferences was. Her answers surprised (enlightened/encouraged me, and I think they will “surprise” you.
Here are her reflections.
What Your Teacher Wants You To Know Going Into Parent Teacher Conferences:
- First, I want you to know that I genuinely care about your child’s success just like you do. While I certainly do not love your son or daughter in the same way, I definitely have a unique connection with these kids that I see almost every day for months.Even when I think about those who sat in my classes years ago, I still think of them as “my kids.” Because of this bond, my students’ achievements have always mattered greatly to me.
- Second, I really do want to sit across the table from you. Perhaps all teachers do not feel this way. But for me, getting to meet you personally makes such a difference. Since I hear about you, and you hear about me, being able to experience the reality of each other is helpful. (Especially if your student might not quite be conveying the right information back and forth!)Since the saying goes that teachers should only believe half of what they hear about home and vice versa, this helps us both to get our stories right.
18 Questions to Ask at a Parent Teacher Conference
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- Third, if the answer that you often hear about what is happening at school is “nothing,” a conversation can change that. Believe me, there is plenty going on at school, and I would love to tell you all about it.Most teachers actually have plotted out the year far in advance. They can tell you about upcoming projects and field trips. By seeing the schedule and even the classroom, suddenly when you talk to your student, there is the potential for actual answers. Well, at least you will know what other questions to ask.
- A conference is a crucial way to keep open lines of communication between parents and teachers. Maybe we didn’t get off to the best start. Maybe there have already been misunderstandings. A face to face conversation is such a better way to relate to each other.At this conference, you can also find out the best way to keep in touch. As for me, because I have rarely managed to keep my desk free from piles, a note might not quite make it to me. Sometimes e-mails can get lost in the shuffle. But texting seems to work well for this teacher. At this visit, you can determine the best way for you both to keep in touch. By keeping in contact in an effective way, minor issues can avoid becoming major ones.
- Parent-teacher conferences help us to become a team. Once we meet in person, getting together again is not as awkward. This means that if I have a concern, I can contact you without feeling quite as nervous. (Yes, even teachers can feel a bit of apprehension about reaching out!)Then by seeing my smiling face at conferences, I become an approachable person for you in the future as well. When parents and teachers work together, students cannot help but become successful because they know that trusted adults are cheering them as they travel their path toward success.
P.S. One last important note: Thank you for entrusting your child to me for this school year. I do not take the privilege of being a teacher lightly. I appreciate all that you do to help your child succeed at school!
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