Advice for New Teachers: The First Parent-Teacher Conferences

With Parents’ Weekend looming, Jacob came to me today, seeking guidance. To prepare for these short, ten-minute conferences, the most fundamental requirement is first to center yourself and overcome your fears. The vast majority of parents take the time to attend these conferences because they want to meet you, learn about their child, and support you in your efforts to educate him or her. They do not come to attack and criticize. So the first principle is to relax and to have confidence in yourself and what you are doing.

Begin the short conference with your grade book closed. Make direct eye contact with them and state calmly and positively some of the more salient characteristics of their child that you have observed. Be sure to state any critical comments in a positive manner. Project an image of genuine caring for their child.

Only after you have shared some general observations about their child should you then open your grade and talk numbers. Be sure to have their child’s latest average and perhaps their last graded requirement on hand. Identify any trends you see. Showing them a sample of their child’s work can help to reinforce your more general comments on him or her.

Inform them of the times you are available for extra help, if their child needs it.

Finally, try to offer a few recommendations on how the student may improve. Again, try to end on a positive note.

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