Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences

Article excerpt

An essential part of teaching is clear communication between stakeholders. Three of the most important stakeholders are the student, the student's parents, and the teacher. The student-parent-teacher conference, therefore, is of utmost importance and should be approached with the greatest of care. The following are some pointers for conducting effective conferences:

Before the Conference

* Send home a note or make a call. Have in mind several different dates or times that you are available to meet with parents.

* Develop a partnership with parents. Assure them that your goal is the academic success of their child.

The Setting

* Provide a private and comfortable environment where parents are free to discuss their child's progress and behavior.

* Supply a notepad and pencils or pens.

* Be prepared with notes, examples of student work, or other documentation.

* Include the student.

* Ask another teacher or an administrator to attend the conference.

Professional Behavior

* Arrive on time.

* Have a specific agenda outlined and stick to it. Discuss only relevant information.

* Set aside plenty of time for a constructive conference, but do not allow the conference to ramble.

* Select the most important points to discuss so that parents are not given information overload.

* Be specific and descriptive about academic progress and classroom behavior.

* Do not contrast and compare one student to another.

* Learn something personal about the student. Does she read science fiction? Does he collect stamps? Parents are more willing to work with a teacher who expresses a personal interest in their child.

* If a serious problem exists, try the "sandwich" technique. Make a positive statement before and after introducing the problem.

* Give parents an opportunity to speak about their child. …