Before the Conference: Plan Ahead
Agree to a meeting time that’s convenient so you won’t feel rushed or distracted.
Ask your child if there’s anything he/she wants you to discuss with the teacher or anything you need to know beforehand. This will help you focus your questions and reduce the possibility of any unpleasant surprises. Plus, you can communicate to the teacher anything that’s on your child’s mind. Emphasize the positive focus of the meeting so your child doesn’t become overly worried about it.
Write down key questions that you have beforehand and bring them to the meeting.
Establish a rapport with the teacher
The first parent/teacher conference is a chance to get to know the teacher. If you’re both on the same page from the start, your child will get more out of his/her year in this teacher’s classroom. If you can make a connection early in the year, it will be easier to talk to the teacher in the future about any questions or concerns.
At the Conference: Key Questions to Ask
Most parent/teacher conferences last about 20 minutes. Don’t use this time to ask questions about basic school policies. That kind of information can usually be found in the school’s handbook, on the website or by calling the school during business hours. This is your chance to ask key questions and get feedback from your child’s teacher.
qWhat information and skills will my child learn this year and what are the academic standards he’ll/she’ll need to meet?
How do you handle different learning abilities and styles?
What seem to be my child’s favorite subjects? What are his/her strengths and weaknesses?
Does he/she participate in class?
How are classes structured? Is he/she assigned to a group? How are groups determined?
Are evaluations and grades based on tests, attendance, homework, portfolios, discussion, or other means? If my child falls behind or springs ahead of the class, how will you handle it?
How does my child get along with other students in the classroom? Does he/she always hang out with the same kids?
What kind of support should I be giving my child at home? How can I learn about homework and project assignments?
Have you noticed any unusual behavior with my child?
If there’s a problem, what, when, where is it happening and how can it be fixed?
Leave with an action plan
Before you say goodbye, find out the best way to follow-up with the teacher. Can you call him/her? Does he/she have an e-mail you can use? As you end the conference review any decisions that were made together and, if necessary request a follow-up meeting.