Stephens, Pam, School Arts
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.
* 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.
* 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. …