I have the pleasure of observing the parent-teacher dynamic both as a parent AND as an educator with over two decades of experience. In my opinion, the first mistake that many parents make is communicating as if they were feeling defensive or under scrutiny.
The less we look at the parent/teacher relationship as one automatically destined to be antagonistic, the more we open ourselves up to developing a relationship that is collaborative and one of mutual respect. As parents, we can help to set the tone for how a parent/teacher conference goes by following a few basic steps.
Step 1. Take the Initiative!
Send your child to school with a brief note for your child’s teacher BEFORE report cards. Introduce yourself, provide several modes of contact, and reassure the teacher that you want to support them as a partner in your child’s educational journey.
Step 2. Ask the teacher for their suggestions in terms of extending your child’s learning, whether it is to support a struggling student or challenge a thriving one. Seek out the opinion of the ones you entrust your child’s academic growth and emotional happiness to for 25% of their day.
Step 3. Ask the teacher if THEY have any questions that they would like to ask YOU. Sometimes, teachers make observations about their students that you could shed light on and TOGETHER could lead to some pretty important breakthroughs for your child. For example, if the teacher sees a student nodding in class, they may think tat the child is not getting enough sleep due to parental disregard. Upon asking, they find out that the student is going through a change of medical prescription and it is impacting them with drowsiness until the student’s body adjusted to the dosage. The teacher might not EVER know this if the question were not asked.
Here’s to a wonderful conference!
Connie Grier, a North Philadelphia native is the author of “The ABC’s of Mentoring: A BiWeekly Road Map to Uplift Youth,” in 2012, as an ode to parents based on her experience navigating the Philadelphia school system. Grier continues to service families in several school districts through her 501c3 non-profit organization, The RESPECT Alliance www.therespectalliance.org, an organization devoted to bringing the “respect” back to interactions between home and school and increasing parental advocacy, through CKG Consulting, LLC, her educational consulting firm.