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Learn how to prepare for parent teacher conferences.

How to Nail Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences offer the opportunity for you to connect with parents and discuss ways to help their child overcome obstacles and progress academically. While these meetings can be intimidating for even the most experienced teacher, they help you gain insight into your students’ lives, allow you to gain the support of parents, and give you an opportunity to address any pressing issues you have been facing with specific students.

With proper planning and preparation, conferences don’t need to be dreaded by either teachers or parents. While teachers can’t control how parents react or the attitude they bring to a meeting, they can prepare themselves and work to keep the focus on the students’ success. By highlighting a child’s strengths, sharing information about their child’s development, and discussing academic or social concerns, teachers can give parents the opportunity to make themselves allies and partners in their child’s education.


Be prepared

To conduct a productive conference have notes, test results, and work samples ready to present and discuss. These concrete examples, rather than vague references, will help foster a productive conversation and will highlight your talking points.

Ask questions and listen

While teachers may feel that they are in the hot seat during conferences, make sure to have your own set of questions for your students’ parents. Ask them about their child’s past school years’ performances, what interests their child has outside of school, and what kind of learner they believe their child is. Listen carefully so that they feel heard and you gain a deeper understanding of them and your student.

Work to recruit the parents

Conferences are a great way to express to parents that you are all on the same team and that together you can offer more to their child’s academic success. Suggest ways that they can help by monitoring homework, signing weekly reports and reading logs, and being communicative throughout the year.

Start and end with positive remarks

There will always be parents you dread to meet with and issues that you are hesitant to address. Maybe you have to dig really deep to say something positive about a student but starting and ending on a positive note breaks down walls and opens the possibility for parents to cooperate and understand the challenges that are present.

Don’t get defensive

Parents may come in with their walls up, and if you are addressing any problems you have been experiencing with their child, they may start to place the blame on your teaching methods or classroom environment. Stay positive, stay calm, and stay focused on the goal of addressing any problems you are facing. Monitor your language and demeanor to take the focus back to working together to implement a plan for their child’s growth and progress.

Address one or two problems

Listing too many problems in one sitting will only discourage parents and leave them feeling defeated. Focus on one or two pressing issues, and if there are more, mention that you would like to discuss those later. The goal is to help the student move forward one step at a time, not to fix them or place blame on their parents. Remind parents that you are team and balance out the bad with the good.

Keep the emphasis on learning

While discussing any behavioral or relational issues, make sure to link everything back to learning. With the importance on the student’s academic success all other points can be addressed, but make sure to keep the focus on providing them with everything they need so their child is academically growing.

Make an action plan

Spend the last few minutes discussing how you will work together to support their child. Be specific about what you will do and what the parents can do at home. Outline a schedule for when you will check in with them to discuss progress or any further issues. Let parents know you are available to talk with them throughout the year. Take the conference as an opportunity to open the door of communication and provide them with ways to get in touch with you.

Follow up

Make sure you follow up with all the parents that took the time to attend. Thank them for meeting and ask if they have any further questions or concerns or if there are any materials you can provide them with to help support learning at home. Also, contact parents who didn’t attend to offer alternative ways for them to communicate with you about their child.


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