Parent teacher conferences can be a big headache, especially for new teachers. It takes time to learn how to deal with certain parents, especially the difficult ones. I can assure you that you will definitely come across some during your teaching career. Here are some tips to make your experience a little easier.
First of all, you need to be prepared. There are a few ways that you can do this. You can either write things down on a piece of paper or index cards. Or you can use a conference sheet which includes the child’s name, his/her strengths and weakness, and things that he/she can improve on. Being prepared takes away a lot of stress and anxiety and you will be less nervous when you meet with the parents.
Always start your conferences on a positive note, even if it is only one good thing that you say about their child. Even if it is a difficult child and he/she has behavior and academic issues, try to find even one good thing to say. Then get into their strengths and weaknesses. By starting off this way, it makes parents feel good about their child and they do not feel like you are saying all negative things about him/her. Let’s face it, no one wants to hear how horrible their child is doing in school or how their behavior is so terrible.
Parents like to see their children’s work. Any samples would be good like Reading and Math assessments that do not get sent home. In the younger grades, handwriting is a big deal, so definitely show them how their child writes their letters and words. Show them their child’s Math book and show them their strengths and weaknesses. The same applies with their Reading workbook, Social Studies and Science. The more you show, the better off you are. This is particularly good if you do not have much to say about a certain child. There have been times when I have gotten into awkward situations of just starring at the parents and vice versa. I find that I do not have much to say about certain students who are academically bright and have no behavioral issues. Showing work samples will fill up your 15 -20 minute scheduled time.
Parent teacher conferences do not have to be a bad experience for even new teachers. Try some of the tips above and see what works best for you.