Here are a few recommendations:
- Talk to your child before the conference and ask about his or her perceived strengths and weaknesses. If your child is in junior high or high school, ask the teacher if it would be appropriate for your child to attend the conference. Be sure to debrief with your child after the conference in order to set some goals.
- Even in the midst of disappointing news, maintain a calm, positive attitude. Like you, the teacher has your child's best interest in mind and will work with you to solve the problem.
- Tell the teacher about your child's interests, strengths and habits -- you know your child best, and any information about home life is helpful for the teacher.
- Ask what can be done at home to support achievement. Parents are the primary educators of their children, and study habits, daily routines and bedtimes have a huge impact on school performance.
- While many teachers communicate with parents via email, remember that a phone call is a much more personal, direct way to communicate. Tone of voice and demeanor are often misconstrued through email.
- Starting a conversation with "We're really not those kinds of parents, but why is Sally getting an A minusssss?!" Instead, explain that you're happy Sally is doing well in class and you would like to know which skill areas she can improve upon.
- Casually stopping by the classroom unannounced "just to ask a few questions." Teachers need time to prepare for meetings so they can give parents thorough, constructive information.
- Telling the teacher that you're concerned about a classroom issue and you've already contacted the principal about it. It's always best to discuss issues directly and frankly. If a client or coworker of yours needed to discuss an issue related to you, wouldn't you rather they speak directly to you first, instead of your boss?
Teachers, can you add anything to my list of recommendations?