What Not to Do At the Parent-Teacher Conference

parent teacher conferencesIt's that time of year again that strikes dread into the hearts of parents everywhere: the parent-teacher conference.

What should be a friendly meeting to discuss your child's progress and talk about how you can best support their education can get tainted with your own feelings about school and teachers, your child's not always accurate reports of what is going on in the classroom, and any amount of other things both related to education and not.

Here's a little secret: Teachers don't really love parent-teacher conference time either. It's often a 12-hour day for them, and parents sometimes come in with their defenses already all the way up and more ready to fight than learn. Here are some teachers' thoughts on what not to do to make it a more productive meeting.

  • Don't show up in your PJs. Failing to get dressed shows you don't take the chance to hear about your child's learning seriously.
  • Don't ask about what the other kids are doing. The focus is on your child; the other kids are, for the most part, irrelevant.
  • Don't pull a no-show. If you are going to miss the appointment, show respect for the teacher by at least calling to let her know.
  • Don't come in looking for an argument. Conferences should be about getting on the same page and working together for the best interests of the child, not a power struggle between the adults.
  • Don't gloss over what's going on at home. If you don't always read 15 minutes at night or let your kids watch TV, tell the truth. Same goes for the way your child feels about school: You don't need to tell the teacher your child hates her, but suggesting that you have some concerns about how they are getting along is okay.
  • Don't forget that your kid at home might be different than your kid at school. Sometimes the meanest child in class is all sweetness and light at home, despite the bruises, hair pulling, and taunting to the contrary.

Opinions were divided on bringing your kids to the conference: Some teachers say it's fine, others say to avoid it, but the general consensus is that if it's possible for both parents to be there without the kids, that's ideal. If the alternative is leaving one parent home, though, bring them along.

How are your parent-teacher conferences going?


Image via ccarlstead/Flickr

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