You’re sitting out in the hallway, on a hard third-grader sized chair, waiting. Crossing and uncrossing your legs, scrolling through Facebook, waiting. A million questions are running through your brain.
How are grades?
What about behavior?
Finally, it’s your turn to talk to the teacher for 10 to 20 minutes.
And your mind is blank. Nothing. You have no clue what to say.
The second you walk away, you know all your questions and concerns will come flooding back. But you’re out of time.
This year, plan ahead for parent-teacher conferences and skip the tongue-tie!
1. Write Everything Down
At home, before the parent-teacher conference, make a list of everything that you are concerned about at school. Make your questions and concerns super specific. You can even narrow down to specific skills, like multiplication, or topics, like comprehending nonfiction text.
These are really just your bullet point ideas to bring up.
2. Get Specific
If you know that you get nervous or emotional when you talk to teachers, make a script. Write down exactly what you want to say.
Then practice your script with your spouse or a friend. You’ll be working on tone and phrasing.
Practicing saying your questions and concerns can help you feel confident.
3. Bring Examples
This requires a little more planning because you’ll need to save work samples. As you receive graded work, like tests, or observe homework time, keep copies. Scan and save PDFs or paper copies of their homework. Save those graded assignments, too.
Keep everything in chronological order and filed by subject. All math papers should be in order from oldest to most recent. Ditto for language arts, science, and social studies, too.
Bring your examples with you to the meeting and work them into your script. It’s a powerful way to make a point or find clarity! Being able to point to something makes it easier to be on the same page.
4. Be Willing to Collaborate
Yes, you are asking the teacher to do XYZ in the classroom, but you should also be willing to put in some work at home. During the meeting, ask for specific recommendations about how you can offer support after school.
Many teachers keep a list of preferred resources and websites. Every school should have a list of teachers who tutor, too. Or reach out to your friendly virtual tutor for assistance!
5. Plan to Revisit Major Concerns
If you or the teacher bring up serious issues, like grades or behavior, plan to touch base about these same topics in 4-6 weeks.
This will be a way to check in on the new strategies and supports you’ve agreed to use in school and at home. You’ll be able to see what is working and what might need some tweaking.
Either way, you and the teacher will be on the same page.
When you walk into a parent-teacher conference with a solid plan, you’re sure to walk out feeling a whole lot better about what’s happening at school. You’ll feel confident and empowered when you know exactly what you want to say, do, and ask.
About the Author: Meg Flanagan founded MilKids Ed in 2010 as a military family-focused tutoring business. MilKids Ed has since grown into a flourishing education blog. Since 2015, MilKids Ed has been a reputable source of education tips, advice, and support for families around the world.In 2017, MilKids Ed launched comprehensive education advocacy and coaching services tailored to meet the needs of families on the go