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Crossing the Great Divide: The Parent/Teacher Conference

Opportunities exist throughout the entire year for teachers and parents to confer. Phone calls, e-mails, and the occasional note all represent communication between the two places where children spend most of their time, school and home. Every so often, teachers and parents have the opportunity to engage in a face-to-face meeting: the Parent/Teacher conference.

The simple mention of the day or evening conference can elicit a variety of responses from both parents and teachers. In truth, the day can be quite exhausting, but I have come to enjoy the time spent with the parent or parents of my students. It presents the opportunity to share personalized information about their child. Some of my best insights come from the discussions during conferences, as the picture of the whole child comes into focus. I eagerly await the parents of the students who are succeeding, and those in need of assistance.

Personally, I like to start with areas of success, and then move to comments relating to effort, creativity, class participation, evidence of understanding, group participation, homework, and enthusiasm. I save the specifics relating to quiz/test scores until the end. In this way I am able to present a variety of information, rather than summing a whole child up with a numbered average. I assure you the parents will be grateful!

Parent/Teacher conferences are all different, and every teacher, the students they teach, and the parent or parents who attend differ as well. At the core, whether pre-k or grade 12, parent/teacher conferences present a chance to cross the divide between school and home.

I offer the following resources for you to explore:

Arlene DeVries’ 1996 Parenting for High Potential article, "How to Make Parent/Teacher Conferences Worthwhile and Productive,"  is a “must read” for any educator AND parent.

Duke University’s Talent Identification Program offers tips for successful Parent/Teacher Conferences on their website.

Dr. James Delisle offers tips for you as well.