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Educating Parents, Teachers, and Children

Prepare for Conferences

9 min read
Parents are the key to a student being successful. Meet with the teacher as soon as possible to have time to discuss your expectations and theirs. Do not bring your child to this conference so you can feel comfortable talking bluntly.
Preparing for Teacher/Parent Conferencing
Be positive
You and the teacher want the same thing
You are on the same team
Do not forget that.

(In this article there are journal ideas. These will help you prepare for parent-teacher conferences. Some people are taking this as part of a course and will need to keep their journal.)

Journal: Do you remember any of the conferences between your parents and the school? What were the topics being discussed.
How did you feel during and after the conference?
Write a journal entry to yourself about how you could better communicate during a teacher conference regarding your children.
Most of us have had an unpleasant conference with a school regarding our children’s academic or social behavior. What examples could you think of and how might you have improved the communication?
     Parent Teacher Conferences usually come around during report card distribution at the end of a grading period. If your school sends home a form for you to choose your conference time, and you have multiple children in multiple classrooms, please fill it out right away and get conferences scheduled for the same day and back to back times.
     As a parent you might schedule a fifteen minute break between conferences just in case a teacher is running a little late. If your school does not coordinate the conference time you need to ask the principal to do it.
     Some schools have an open conference evening in a multipurpose room or library. At open conference time all the teachers set up at tables in one room. The parents wander over and sit down (some have to wait a bit) and have the conference. It is convenient for parents who work long hours and need evening conference times. You sacrifice a little privacy doing it this way.

At a group conference time you can grab multiple teachers and talk about your child’s progress together. It is a great way to have a conference because children usually behave the same in all classes and a parent only needs to hear it once. The other strength of this approach is that a child might be doing great in all classes but one. You can explore as a group what is happening differently in the class he is struggling in. A group solution is less threatening. Your child will feel more support if his more successful classroom teachers are encouraging him to do better in the class that is harder for him.

          Most principals and teachers recommend you bring your child to the parent-teacher conference. The reason is that your child is being judged and should know what the final judgement is.
          After conferencing both with and without students present I see strengths in both ideas.
          See another article on Student-Led Conferences.
          I recommend you do your first conference with the teacher without your child present. That might happen much sooner than the report card time.
          The sooner you have a conference with the teacher, the sooner you will understand how your child is doing.
          You need to know if your child is paying attention (or able to pay attention). Are they playing around, visiting and disrupting class? Are they a great reader and working above expectations? What books can you recommend that would be longer yet content appropriate for your child?
          Ask about each academic subject.
         Ask about homework and the amount of time it is taking your child to accomplish.
          Explain your after school situation and ask for advice on handling homework on days when you have multiple kids, multiple activities after school. Maybe there is a homework club. If there is no homework club at school maybe you can approach the principal and ask for one?
          Ask about socialization.
          Inquire about any bullying on campus – involving your child as victim or as the bully.
          Ask what you can do to help your child succeed.
         What about your expectations at home for their writing.
          Handwriting and the content of the writing.
          What is a sentence? How should they approach essay questions?
         Tell the teacher about your child’s background. We need to know about trauma, sleep patterns, hours on video games, any dietary problems, who they live with and if there is a divorce and visitation changes. Who can we talk to about your child – is there a step-parent and can they be told anything?
         Does your child have any educational needs? Special education? Did they have speech problems that they are now graduated from but should they show up again you want to be told?
Think about the emotional health of your child. The more a teacher understands about your child the better they can work with them.
         Take a list of things to discuss. Think about the amount of time you might need. If you need more than twenty minutes tell the teacher you might take thirty minutes or break the conference into two times. If you can, bring the other parent along. Both parents and step-parents should be there so everyone knows the plan.
         Always have a goal – a plan in mind. Always remember that the teacher is not a professional counselor. We are not trained on how to talk to parents. I thought I was pretty good. I thought I understood a lot about what I asked of my students. Then I became a parent myself – it all changed. If you are unlucky enough to have a teacher who is not themselves a parent – trust me they need you to explain and be patient because they simply do not get it.
         I won’t be popular after that statement – but I want to put it all out there for you so you know what to expect.
         Please remember that in school students are all expected to follow rules for the good of the class. In the United States of America – no, Make that – In the entire world – students are expected to come to school, sit quietly, listen, participate, do work and learn.
         Nowhere is it okay to be rude, disrespectful or disruptive.
         Last year I was observing a teacher. I saw one student stand up, walk around the room, move his arms and body and mumble to himself. It disrupted about five other kids who were now watching him not the lesson. I asked the teacher about it later, “Oh, he is so much better. He used to walk around, in front of the room and sing. Now he seems to be paying a little attention while he marches back and forth in the back of the room.”
         This teacher kept the struggling students in the front of the class. Most teachers put them in the back. He was on top of the situation and at times he removed the boy from the classroom but that was not ideal either.
         Is it fair for your child to disrupt others?
         Many parents think only of their child and make excuses for them.
         Some parents blame the teacher.
         Some parents say the child is totally obedient at home. (haha)
         Controlling a class of 28 seven year olds and teaching math is harder than it looks. If your child is in trouble a lot please meet without him/her and make plans with the teacher that are reasonable.
         Please give the teacher the respect of having a conference with you before you call a principal to complain. Think about a principal…hundreds of students. I would not meet with a parent about anything unless they had a meeting with the teacher first. I had to hold a line because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to do the rest of my job.
Be positive
You and the teacher want the same thing
You are on the same team
Do not forget that.
Find other articles about discipline when a child is sent home from school.

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