When parent-teacher conferences come around, there will be that parent who finds herself sitting outside the classroom, feeling those initial jitters. She can't help wondering if she'll receive some bombshell news about her child: Is he bullying another student? Is he dyslexic? Did he win the state spelling bee and forget to mention it at home?
It may seem ridiculous, but the fear of the unknown is real.
Luckily, parent-teacher conferences were invented in order to dispel that fear.
We asked the pros - our teachers here at PHCS - about what they look forward to about parent-teacher conferences. Listed below are some great insights from the other side of the table. Bottom line: it's about communication, teamwork, and consistency.
Remember: you, as a parent, are not on the hook. The teacher is not out to get you, or your child, in trouble. You can stop looking sideways at them: You both are on the same team in your child's education.
In light of this teamwork, here are some do's and don't about your P/T Conference:
- Arrive on time. It tells them that their time is important, and respected.
- Ask questions. We found a great online resource here for important questions. Our own teachers love getting questions like:
- "What can I do at home to support what you're doing in the classroom?"
- "How can I help my child succeed in school academically, spiritually, and emotionally?"
- "What do you see as his/her strengths and/or weaknesses?"
- Soak in your child's strengths. The teacher is happy to deliver good news. Don't brush them aside to get to the bad news.
- Take notes. Pen and paper, on your smartphone, whatever. Just jot down what you discuss.
- Fill them in about home life. Home always affects school. This was the most important thing to one of our teachers: How is the student doing personally? When a teacher knows more about what's going on at home, they can better address the student's needs at school.
- Take turns listening to each-other's concerns.
- Strategize solutions. This is where a team-mindset really works. Do you need to clear a quiet space at home just for homework? Does your child need a healthier lunch packed, to keep them fueled for the whole school day? How can you help, as the parent?
- Arrive late, or not at all. Nothing could say more clearly to the teacher, "You and your work with my child are not worth my time," than by missing that bi-annual (or tri-annual) meeting.
- Make excuses for why your child isn't doing well. Rather, focus on how to help your child succeed.
- Doubt what the teacher tells you. They are trained professionals. If they have shared something with you, it was for a good reason, and quite often, with supporting evidence. Please take their observations into consideration, for the sake of your child, even if it puts pressure on a sensitive spot for you.
It's hard for your child to function in two disparate worlds of home and school. When both parent and teacher have a good idea of what's going on in the other's camp, they can re-inforce each other's plans, systems, and even language. One parent at our school learned that the principal was teaching the children about good behavior and bad behavior by using language from Proverbs about making wise choices vs. foolish choices. She loved this idea, and now corrects her children at home by talking about making wise choices to glorify God.
As one of our teachers said the other day, "I am 'the parent' during the school day and they are the parent at home. If we work together, these children will have consistency throughout their day to foster their success."