Parent Teacher Conferences…those three words used to make me cringe.
If you’re like me, you don’t look forward to conference time. It’s like this extra dog and pony show that leaves some parents more anxious and overly aggressive than others and you….well exhausted!
After teaching the entire day with 6 and 7 year olds, I really don’t look forward to running my mouth another second. It’s almost as if I need both a mouth and brain break, although that never happens regardless of parent teacher conferences. If it’s not something at school, I’m super busy at home with my 9 –year old, doing homework, cooking dinner, etc. So by the end of the night/week/hour….my brain is beyond fried which is why I’m still trying to figure out how I’m maintaining any sort of a personal life…huh…what personal life?
This most definitely won’t be my last conference sooo the burning question is… How can we approach these dreaded conferences in peace?
That’s why I decided to share a few key points with you that I like to keep in the forefront which helps me stay focused and on task during parent meetings. It also keeps me motivated and less distracted. We all want productive and meaningful parent teacher conferences, right? Hey, I’m a parent, too!
Here are some tips to consider:
- Approach EVERYTHING with Positivity:
Most parents want the best for their children. They want to see them in a nurturing and productive environment that is conducive to their overall academic and socio-emotional growth. However, you may come across those overly anxious parents who demand that their child be better than the rest and who are ultra sensitive when it comes to any form of discussions regarding their babies.
Some even go as far as thinking they know how to run my class. I don’t acknowledge such agendas and kindly dismiss them in stride. In all aspects of the spectrum, be positive and most importantly, professional.
Unfortunately, what I find most daunting in this international community is that parents tend to not trust and respect the likes of black teachers as much as their white counterparts. It has happened both indirectly and directly where I’ll have a parent negate what I’m saying simply because…I’m black.
Again, I always approach with positivity! I always start the meeting with praise and focus towards the child’s strengths and accomplishments.
In some regards, no matter how many flips you turn and smiles you flash, some will never be satisfied and will always find the flaws. The best you can do is to stay on top of your game, shine in your expertise and approach any negativity with confidence, a positive message and a killer smile. You got this!
- Keep it student centered
I know you are already aware of this concept, however, it especially pans out well when you make it all about the kiddies. In my previous experiences, strongly communicating this message during your conferences encourages the parents to trust that you are making every effort to differentiate, extend learning and offer support where needed.
Parents LOVE that and will appreciate you for taking the time to notice their little ol Johnny’s efforts and areas of concern with _______________outcome.
- Parents need some love, too!
Parents want to feel…needed. If you tell them that you need their assistance and that you really want them to pay attention to certain things in the classroom, they will be more inclined to take initiative and hold themselves accountable.
They are just as much of a stakeholder as you. It’s so important to convert some of the academic responsibilities of that child to the parent. Also, I remind them of how well they are doing with their child and that because of this, their child has made significant improvement in some phenomenal way. This tends to ease the tension a bit and make them feel important!
Give them some ownership and make them feel as if they have a meaningful contribution of some sort. This will pay off in the end when you’re vying for classroom volunteers later in the school year.
Now, when I taught back home in the states, I didn’t see this as much. I found that the parents weren’t as hands on. This is something I’d like to change once I go back. Internationally, however, it is a different gamut. I’m looking forward to working with my own as I’d like to say because of the greater need in our communities state side.
- Don’t get offended by a parent who is offended…
Offense comes in all shapes and sizes. I especially see offense when it comes to parents being overly protective because they expect their child to be some sort of circus performer. Once you make a comment regarding an area that needs improvement, they get offended. It’s almost as if they want to keep their child in this safe, well kept box that says “Johnny’s perfect”. Get outta here with all that jazz! Corrective criticism regarding your child shouldn’t put your panties in a bunch, my dear, especially if it is meant to help them succeed.
ME: All I’m saying is…. “_____________needs to work a bit harder in _____________________.”
Parents: “Well, he did just fine before…and yada, yada. Why is there a problem now?”
Keep doing your thing, teachers. Be real, be honest and be transparent.
The truth hurts. Our children are far from perfect…and quite frankly, so are we.
- You better have some proof!
If you want to say that a child is lacking in an area or has made an improvement in the next, back it up! Have some available work to show and make sure that you can use it as a viable speaking point. This has happened to be before.
ME: “_________________ isn’t doing so well in_______________________. Please practice at home, ok”. The parent, rightfully so, would eagerly respond to this account by asking to see….PROOF! Come prepared. If you speak about it, back it up, especially if it deals with improvement.
These are just a few points and I’m totally aware that there are plenty more helpful tidbits.
Are you doing anything different during your conferences?
I’d love to hear from you! Until next time, be blessed and highly favored.