From the article Make The Most of Your Teacher Conference from Scholastic:
Before the Teacher Conference
- Start preparing early. Don’t wait until the night before to get organized. Create a folder at the beginning of the year in which you store test scores, big homework assignments, and your notes (about things your child has told you or any other topics you want to address).
- Talk to your child. Ask how she’s doing in class, what’s going on during lunchtime, recess, and when she goes to special classes like music or gym. “You want to find out both the positive and negative,” says Rozea. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, investigate. Talk to other parents to see if their children are expressing similar concerns. “You need to find out whether your child is perceiving everything accurately or if she’s misunderstanding a situation,” she says.
During the Teacher Conference
- Arrive early. With only a few precious minutes to spend, you don’t want to be late. It will shorten your time with your child’s teacher and affect her day’s entire schedule.
- Enter with the right attitude. The goal of both the teacher and the parent should be the success of the student, but sometimes parents have a hard time discussing tough issues. Rather than put the teacher on the defensive, arrive with a compliment to start the conference off on the right foot. (“My son is really enjoying the unit on space” or “We had a great time on the field trip.”) Then address any concerns in a respectful way.
- Find out the communication protocol. Don’t let this be the only time you talk to your child’s teacher. Ask how she likes to communicate, suggests Sagarese, whether it’s by e-mail, notes passed through a folder, or phone calls. “Reinforce that you are there if she wants to talk to you,” she says. “Let the teacher know you want to be that kind of partner.”
After the Teacher Conference
- Follow up. If the teacher brings something to your attention that needs to be addressed with your child, take steps to put the plan in motion, whether it’s helping with organizational skills, getting extra help, or addressing a social issue.
- Update your child. Start with the positive things her teacher had to say, then fill her in on any concerns you and the teacher discussed. Explain how you can all work together to ensure your child has a successful year.