Before the conference:
Plan ahead; schedule a time that is convenient for both of you and have the conference in a location where you will not be distracted.
Limit concerns; decide to discuss only two or three areas.
Clarify who will be present; let everyone know who will be at the conference and why (e.g., perhaps the principal, or special education teacher, or student should be involved).
During the conference:
Be polite, personable, and positive-remembering the three P's may help everyone relax and adjust to the other person's communication style.
Avoid lecturing-keeping comments brief will give everyone present an opportunity to share information.
Give examples-providing specific examples or anecdotes of the child's work or behavior helps everyone to understand the concern.
Develop common goals-acknowledge what each person can do to support the child in the areas of concern.
After the conference:
Follow-up-following up with either a written or oral communication or "thank-you" is important for an ongoing supportive relationship.
Schedule another conference-if anyone present feels that there is need for more discussion or evaluation of the common goals that were established, then another conference should be scheduled soon.
As parents and teachers grow in their ability to work together, respecting their mutual roles as equal partners on the child's educational team, then conferencing and communication will become easier.
For more information on parent conferences, see:
Parent/Teacher Conference http://www.hsv.k12.al.us/parent.html [Editor's note: this link is no longer available 4-17-2000]
TIPS-Conference cues [Editor's Note 6/30/00: http://www.parentpower.org/confcue.html is no longer available]
Robinson, Sandra L. (1997). Parent conference tips. Teaching Pre K-8, 28(1), 78.
Prepared for Parent News by Anne S. Robertson.