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How to Have an Effective Parent/Teacher Conference

backschool-sliderYou’re sitting in a lobby, your palms are sweating, your anxious and reviewing your mental checklist on what you want to say. Sound familiar? Below are a few ways to make that Parent/Teacher Conference (or IEP meeting) effective and a mutually beneficial time.

A good teacher is one who recognizes that it is extremely important to have a good working relationship with the parents of their students. A parent is really the child’s first teacher and critical to a student’s success is the involvement of the parent. I always encourage “my” parents that the goals for the child are indeed shared goals, not home based goals and school based goals. We “teacher folk” know that parents of struggling students are already overwhelmed and often have unpleasant experiences with the initial parent/teacher conferences. Below are a few ways to make those pesky conferences not only flow smoothly, but become productive for both parties.

I always give “my” parents plenty of notice about upcoming conferences. It is your right as a parent to expect the same. It is also your right as a parent to ask for a conference at any given time but please remember the golden rule, Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you etc. Please give your teachers like notice as we like to be prepared for a conference so as to be able to answer or address any concerns you might have.

I like to provide “my” parents with an agenda in preparation for a conference so that we can be efficient in our discussions. Feel free to suggest this to your child’s teacher and add anything you would like to discuss to the agenda.

I ALWAYS start any conference with a positive note a “brag on the student” type of comment. I suggest that you share with the teacher some positive things your child is doing at home or in private therapy, it always starts the meeting reminding all members that the child can do things well even if you are their to discuss interventions for behavioral issues or otherwise.

I like to share articles or techniques with “my” parents that I find helpful in reference to their child. If you have anything similar that may help the teacher understand the nature of your child’s difficulty, be prepared to share it with the teacher. Remember a good teacher knows that your goals are shared, you both wants what’s best for your child.

I like to conclude the meeting by formulating an action plan, a time frame for a follow up visit or telephone call. If your child’s teacher doesn’t suggest this, speak up! A good teacher will readily agree to one and will welcome the gentle reminder that keeping in touch with the parent is the best way to continue successful interventions.

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