There are some tips educators can take to make each conference productive and pleasant.
If the conference is called due to a student’s negative behavior or bad grades, remain positive. Always begin and end on an encouraging note. For instance, instead of telling parents that their child is rambunctious and loud, tell them that the child is energetic and passionate. If grades are the issue, make it clear that there are challenges ahead for everyone, including you, the teacher, and then state all that you are willing to do to help the student improve. Also ask the parents and the child (if he or she is present) what they are willing to do bring up the grade and for any suggestions they may have.
Do not make parents wait. Be on time for the conference. This lets the parents know that
you value their time.
Have grades, standardized test scores, behavior charts, and anything else you might need ready and waiting when parents arrive. This will not only expedite the conference, but it will reinforce to the parents that you are a professional who has the organizational skills necessary to educate their child.
There will be times when no matter what you do, parents will be unhappy. It is vitally important to remain professional. Always respond in a respectful manner, even if that manner is not returned to you. This does not mean you should ever allow anyone to abuse you. If a parent becomes hostile or too rude, end the conference. Tell them that they can return at another time to discuss the matter with you and your supervisor.
In this day and age of lawsuits, one can never be too careful. It is a good idea to have a colleague or supervisor present at parent-teacher conferences. If this is not possible, record the major points of the conference and have the parents sign off on it before they leave. Be sure to offer them a copy and retain one for your records. If there is ever a question of what was decided and discussed at the conference, this will provide all parties with some protection and information.
Conferences are necessary and essential to establishing a healthy learning environment for students. When parents and teachers communicate effectively, students will always benefit. If educators are prepared, professional, and positive, most parents will respond accordingly and strong parent-teacher-student relationships will be the result.