Is it time for the annual parent-teacher conference? You may not know it, but teachers are nervous too! So how should you, as a caring, concerned, and involved parent approach the big meeting?
It may seem like the curriculum is too easy or too hard for your child, or that the classroom setup is less than ideal with so many kids shoved into a room. But more often than not, the teacher probably isn’t pleased about the situation either. Teachers are required to follow district, state, and national curriculum and may not have much (if any) say about what is being taught. (And teachers rarely have a voice in class size limits.) Instead, focus on what issues are within the teacher’s radius of control and how your own child is performing. Save your tertiary concerns for those who can actually institute large-scale changes, like the principal or elected school board members.
Pool your information
You know your child better than anybody, but teachers also spend a large part of their day with your child. While you know your child’s interests, home situation, and experiences, the teacher can speak to abilities, performance, and interaction with others. Use the information to develop a big picture that can help you help your child succeed.
Share what you know
You are the teacher’s best resource! If your child is disinterested in a subject, help the teacher find ways to engage him. Sometimes knowing “my child likes dinosaurs” is all it takes for a teacher to find materials to make learning exciting.
It’s not just about grades
Look beyond the grades. Good grades on a report card may overshadow a low score on an assessment that could signal potential problems ahead. Work ethic, interaction with others, motivation, and acceptance of responsibility are just as important as grades.
Above all, teachers want to work with parents to help children succeed. Being involved in a child’s schooling by attending parent-teacher conferences sends a strong message to both kids and teachers about your commitment to teamwork and longterm learning.