How to Have a Great Parent/Teacher Conference


Tim Elmore offers four practical ways that parents and teachers can engage in effective communication.

Too often, parents and teachers form an adversarial relationship for one reason or another. Either the parent is hovering like a helicopter and no teacher can do quite enough for her child, or the teacher doesn't communicate enough or invest enough in the students to suit the families involved—but I think it’s time to set some ground rules for a great parent / teacher meeting.

These four issues are paramount:

1. Mutual Support

Parents should communicate they support the teacher fully in his/her efforts to teach study skills, discipline and the subject of the class. Teachers should relay that they love the students and are committed to build them into the best version of themselves possible. This means being a “velvet-covered brick.”

2. Expectations

Parents should ask specific questions about what their child is expected to learn, how they will be evaluated and what will not be tolerated in class. Teachers should offer the answers to these questions, plus talk about how much they love kids and how they intend to discover the strengths of each one. This means they should play chess not checkers—getting to know each piece and not treating them alike.

3. Involvement

Parents should offer to be involved as much as the teacher wishes and as much as they are able with their schedules. Teachers should welcome parent involvement but communicate the parameters with which parents can jump in. This means asking them to fall somewhere in between a helicopter parent (hovering) and dry cleaner parent (dropping them off to a professional).

4. Evaluation

Parents should debrief with their child when they return home following the conference with the teacher. They should communicate to their child that they plan to cooperate with the teacher in all the goals that were set. Teachers should relay the same thing to their class. Both will be talking regularly, evaluating and partnering to help the student reach those goals.

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