Below is a post from Charlie Margolis, who will share his expertise on the topic of parent-teacher conferences. Read below for PART 1 on having a successful parent-teacher conference.
A member of Toastmasters once asked me, “What is the single most important thing that an effective speaker has to do?” Whether you are talking to several hundred people or holding a parent/teacher conference, it’s about how you make the audience feel. Are you perceived as friendly, accessible and competent or aloof, hostile and inept? For the teacher, it is important to enlist parents as partners in the educational experience. I am a professional educator and interview coach. In this blog, I will share some ideas and insights into about how to have a successful parent-teacher conference.
Put-out the Welcome Mat
Everyone likes to feel appreciated. Welcome parents with a warm greeting. Create a positive expectation by explaining that you have some good news about their child. Some social conversation, prior to the actual conference, can act as an “ice breaker” and make things go more smoothly. Think of parents as friends. How do you treat friends? Start the conference with a story about something that the student has accomplished. Be the bearer of good news.
Have a Conversation
The parent conference should not resemble a political debate. Make it more like a conversation across the kitchen table. Get out from behind your desk. Set chairs comfortably close or chose a round table. Speak in a conversational tone. While you certainly will refer to the student’s performance on tests, grades, etc, try not to appear that you are following a script. Avoid letting time constraints or just plain fatigue give the impression that the parent/teacher conference is just slightly preferable to a root canal. Try to stay focused in the present moment.
Smiling Makes Everyone Feel Good
Did you have a difficult day in the classroom? Try smiling. There is a growing body of research that indicates smiling has a cognitive affect. It can, literally, change your mood. That’s right! I’ve been interviewed on radio and TV many times. Before I go on-air, I make it a point to have a smile on my face. Invariably, my mood is lifted. So, greet your parents with a smile. It will make you and the parents feel good.
Parents Need Validation
As all of us know, being a parent is a daunting task. Parents want to hear that they are doing a good job raising their children. Teachers are quick – sometimes too quick – to praise children for every little thing. Parents need praise, too. They often see their child’s behavior as a reflection of their parenting. So, seize every opportunity to tell parents that they are competence and doing well.
More more tips, read PART 2 of having a successful parent-teacher conference!
Charlie is Executive Director of Interview Image Associates, LLC. The firm specializes in preparing political candidates, pageant contestants, job aspirants and college applicants for interviews, speeches and presentations.