Saturday, November 22, 2008

Teacher Conferences – What Parents Need to Know – A Useful Opinion

As a teacher, I can soundly say that the parent-teacher conference can be one of the most valuable experiences, or the most useless. What makes or breaks the teacher conference is the attitude of the parent(s) coming in. Now, for argument sake, forget about the “bad” teachers and let’s talk mainstream. Your child’s teacher wants him or her to succeed. Despite all the discussion in the education world about strategies to motivate, engage, and better manage a classroom, the number one factor effecting your child’s education is your positive involvement. The following list will help you prepare for your parent-teacher conference in a way that will yield the best results for your child:

  1. Be on time: Oh my goodness, there is nothing that annoys a teacher more than a parent who shows up late. This is mainly due to the fact the teacher has up to thirty conferences and your lateness will set them behind for all the remaining conferences. This then aggravates parents who are on-time. It’s a big downward spiral.

  2. Be prepared to hear that your child is not an angel: Because he or she is NOT. Your son or daughter is a child; they behave like it all the time.

  3. Do not blame the teacher: Your child’s behavior problems are not the teacher’s fault. Your child’s poor grades are not your teacher’s fault. The second you start looking to place blame on a teacher instead of working with him or her on solutions is the second the conference fails to be useful. The teacher should have a plan already developed to help with either situation. They won’t blame you (to your face), so don’t blame them (to their face).

  4. Know what your child is learning and expected to do: Know your child’s schedule and the objectives they are working on. This allows you to go home and support the learning. Know the homework expectations. There is no excuse for parents not knowing what the daily homework assignments are.

  5. Ask questions: Your child’s teacher is a trained professional. Parents are fond of telling those with no children that they just don’t understand. We’ll, until you are responsible for the education, safety, and well being of thirty kids for 180 days with no spanking rights, then YOU don’t understand. If you have a question, ask the teacher. Don’t leave a conference confused.

  6. You are not a professional: Do not go into a conference with the attitude that you know how to best educate children. I once had a parent basically explain to me that I sucked as a teacher. He based his wealth of knowledge on the fact that he coaches eleven ten year old boys for one hour, once a week. Because I know what was best for his child in that situation, I said nothing.

  7. Your child lies too: Children bend the truth or outright lie to improve their situation. The teacher is an adult; they have no reason to lie about your child’s behavior. Accept what your child tells you, but verify.

  8. Understand that teachers have little to no time: I know you have little to no time too, but parents love to come in with special requests. For example, my favorite line is, “Why didn’t you call and tell me Johnny had a book report?” Because I am not your child’s secretary. If your child is not bringing graded work home, YOU need to call the teacher. If your child constantly says they have no homework, YOU need to call your child’s teacher.

Clearly, this list is from a teacher’s perspective. I feel much better that this rant is out. I guess I can go to bed now. Let’s make this fun, add your list from a parent’s perspective. Bring it on!


Breezie said...

Some very useful information there.

So many parents are just completely clueless to what they will encounter in a Parent/Teacher Conference, and its a shame, but some could not care less either.

Bryan Johnson said...

You know it!