Blog post co-written by Lindsay Jipping and Allyson Apsey
Teachers are real people with a heart for students and learning. Parents are real people whose children are their heart. We all sing in our cars, get embarrassed when we make mistakes, and have strengths and areas for improvement. When we keep this in mind during parent/teacher conferences and follow some basic tips, working together can be so much more effective and fun. Here are three simple ABCs of conferences for parents.
A= Assume positive intent
Teachers go into the field of education with a service-oriented heart, hoping to change the world one student at a time. Parents hold their newborn child with dreams of the possibilities life will have to offer him or her. When the partnership of parents and teachers comes together knowing that each wants positive things for students, amazing things can happen.
You may have heard an educator say, “We will believe half of what your children tell us about you, if you believe half of what your children tell you about us.” It makes us laugh to think of it that way, but in reality, if parents and teachers approach questions or concerns in a way that assumes positive intent from one another, it is so much easier to work together. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be careful not to assume you have the whole story.
B= Be prepared
Pay close attention to homework, to what your child is saying about their learning, and read newsletters carefully. Doing your “homework” will make conferences much more meaningful for parents. Teachers would love for you to have a list of questions and they welcome your suggestions. We know that you are an expert on your child.
Teachers not only value you and your input, but they want to know what you think! They expect you to have questions about what, how, and why they are teaching your child in the ways they are. Start right away at the beginning of the year and get involved in what your child shares and brings home.
Don’t let the conference end before you ask the teacher what you can do to support your child over the next few months of the school year. Taking a keen interest in your child’s learning and doing what you can to support what is happening in school will help your child have a successful school year. Teachers view you as an important partner in the education of your child.
Follow up with the teacher after conferences on goals/areas of concerns that were shared at conferences. Conferences are not the only time to talk about this, it should be a conversation throughout the year. Children will sense when their parents and teachers are working together. They will feel more positive about the situation and school.
It really does take a village to raise a child, and following the ABCs will help parent/teacher conferences go well. Additionally, you will role-model ways to form positive relationships and partner together for a shared goal–an exceptional education for your child!
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