Section 3: Parent Conference Tips
You are a professional–do not allow a parent to treat or tell you otherwise. — Jeff Johnson
Conferences provide an opportunity for listening and for sharing
information. This is an excellent time to build rapport with parents.
- Invite both parents. But, be sure to find out first if a student comes from a singleparent home and if both parents should be invited; or if the appropriate guardian is someone other than a parent.
- Prepare in advance to answer specific questions parents may have about their child’s ability, skill levels, and achievements.
- Get organized before the conference. Assemble your grade book, test scores, or conference folder with student work samples and attendance records. Greet parents at the door. Also, you’ll help parents feel welcome and relieve their anxiety if you greet them by name. Check records in advance to make sure you have parents’ (or step parents’ or guardians’) names correct. Also, check with your mentor for their ideas on what makes a productive conference.
- Open on a positive note. Begin conferences on a warm, positive note to relax everyone. Start with a positive statement about the child’s abilities, schoolwork or interests. Show some of the child’s work, and familiarize parents with class expectations.
- Allow enough time in the conference. If you are scheduling back-to-back conferences, give yourself a short breather in between, if possible.
- Encourage students to attend the conference. Have the student lead the conference and share his or her accomplishments.
- Establish priorities. Pick one or two areas for growth and improvement so parents are not overwhelmed. Summarize what you have discussed. Be clear if there are concrete steps for follow-up. Keep brief notes about the conference and follow through on the actions.
- Resolve differences. Focus on problem solving. It will make it easier for everyone to discuss problems, resolve differences, agree on a mutually acceptable plan of action, and have a more pleasant time while doing so.
- If a parent becomes hostile or negative, offer the opportunity to reschedule the conference and have a teacher, administrator, or counselor present.