10 things parents must know before parent-teacher conferences

This blog post lists the top 10 things your child's teacher wishes you knew before coming to parent/teacher conferences.  Click here to read these 10 important tips from a teacher who has sat through many, many conferences!

Parents, if you have conferences coming up with your child's teacher, here are some things you should know from the perspective of a secondary teacher.

1.  If you have an appointment, show up.

It takes teachers a lot of time to plan appointments, and when you don't show up, it is just rude.  You have taken a spot that someone else probably wanted, so not coming is just not okay.  If you do not show up, please do not email the next week wanting an appointment before school.

2.  Conference days are not meant to be long weekends for family vacations.

If you have no concerns about your child and the teacher has not requested to meet you, then conferences are probably not necessary.  However, you should check before planning to go skiing.  If the teacher wants to see you and you choose to take vacation, you should not expect a conference the following week during a time that is convenient for you.  

3.  Be on time.  

We often have many parents to see, and if you have an appointment, it really throws off the entire day if you show up late.

4.  Stay only for the allotted time.  

If you have a 15 or 30 minute conference, you need to understand that there will be another conference just after yours. Please be respectful of the other families who also have a right to a conference.

5.  Come prepared to discuss things with your teacher.

Teaching and parenting is a partnership to help the child reach his/her full potential.  Please don't interrupt the teacher or make accusations.  Listen to suggestions about how you can help at home.  Teachers are trained professionals, and we do deserve respect.  Most people wouldn't dare talk to doctors like they talk to their child's teacher, yet many of us have gone to college for just as long.

6.  Realize that your child probably spends approximately 50 minutes per day with his/her teacher.   He/she could possibly be in a block scheduled class where they spend longer times with the teachers, but classes may only meet twice a week.

You cannot expect a teacher to solve all of the problems when he/she is with your student for such a short time.  Doing homework, bringing school supplies, learning manners, treating others with respect...these are all behaviors that should be taught at home and reinforced by a teacher.  If your child arrives without a pencil, of course I have one to lend, but making sure a child is prepared for school the next day is the family's job.  I can't come to your house and check your child's agenda to see if he has homework, then sit by and see that he does it.  That is your job.  Please do it.

7.  Respect the confidentiality of other students.

Please do not come to me to discuss another child.  Teachers cannot discuss other students, and even if it was not against the law, it is not respectful to speak of others.  You can also rest assured that should someone ask about your child, I would not speak of him/her.

8.  Be present!

Turn your cell phone off for the conference.

9.  Be prepared for the rush hour.

If your school has open conferences, please remember that your child's teacher could be teaching many kids.  My maximum one year was 160!  If everyone wanted to see me in that last hour when everyone got off work, it would never have happened.  If you can come during lunch or during a quieter time, please do.  If you can only come after work, please don't yell at the teacher when you finally get a conference.  It is not our fault that budgets have been cut and cut so that we are teaching many, many children.  We are doing our best, and these are long days.  Be kind.  If we have been at work since 6:30 that morning, please be understanding when we are still there at 7:30 that night and don't take your anger out on us.

10.  Come even if your child is doing well.

It is often a bright spot in the day to see the families of our students who are thriving.  We love to show what we are doing, and sometimes we never meet parents whose children aren't struggling.  You're doing a great job, and we want to tell you that!

We want to share our classrooms, our work, and our successes with you.  If your child is struggling, we want to help.  If your child is shy and has questions we can discuss privately, we want to talk.
We want this to be the most effective time it can be, so please take a minute to consider the teacher's perspective.

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