Parent-teacher meetings can be stressful and sometimes make even the coolest of parents a little sweaty and weak in the knees.
Let’s face it–we all want to hear great things about our child’s progress in school. We want to hear that our daughter is mastering every concept, she’s quiet during class, sits patiently, and treats every single student with kindness and respect. We hope that our son is earning top-of-the-class grades and that he’s the most sought-after playmate of his peers. We hope to hear that the teacher adores having our child in her class and that she’s convinced our kid will be the next President of the United States.
But that’s not always the case. Often as the day of teacher conferences approaches, the buzz of parents on the playground intensifies and talk moves toward conferences and report cards. Parents compare progress and the anxiety of report card grades magnifies. Some of us are rattled at the thought of sitting down with a teacher, and others have been waiting since September to finally give that teacher a piece of her mind.
Want to make sure you ace your next meeting with your kid’s teacher? Here are five insider tips to ensure your success:
1. Be ready to listen. Seriously. Go into the meeting, greet the teacher–or teachers–present, and listen to what they have to say. Before you say a word, just sit and listen.
2. Be prepared. If there’s something specific you want to cover, know the details and do your research.
Don’t say Remember that one math assignment–the one with the shapes? Why’d Isabella get points off at the end? Do say: Can we talk for a second about this assignment here? (Show the worksheet in your hand.) Can you explain what you were looking for on number five?
3. Stay focused on your child’s progress, on your child’s social piece, and on your child’s goals. Leave questions about the other students at the door, and don’t even think about talking about your own school experience or that of your other child’s. This is a short conference about your child and no one else.
4. Be prepared to hear some junk. Get your mind ready to hear that your daughter isn’t really perfect and that she has a wicked bratty side that emerges during partner work or group projects. Get ready to hear that she may hand in incomplete assignments or keep a messy desk. Just take a deep breath when you hear it (inhale, exhale. . . ) and ask what you can do at home to move her in a different direction.
5. Be respectful. Teachers’ jobs are extremely difficult. Even if you don’t agree with what he’s saying, smile and nod and maintain your composure rather than scream out But I know she did that assignment because I helped her with it!! Did you even look in her backpack, you idiot? Be thankful for the work the teacher is doing to support your child’s learning, and be sure to tell him you are grateful for his time, effort, and energy.
If there’s something that you still feel uneasy about after the conference, consider emailing or phoning to further discuss the issue. Because when that fifteen minutes is up, it’s another parent’s turn in the hot seat.
Once a high school English teacher and now a literacy consultant and Reading Specialist, you can find Amy over at teach mama, where she shares the ways she sneaks in a little bit of learning into her children’s day.