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First Grade Teacher from Kingman, Arizona

Being a teacher for six

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Being a teacher for six years, I have been to a few parent-teacher conferences. Parents are enthusiastic and/or worried as they come to school to discuss their child's progress with their teacher, especially if they did not do well in school themselves. As an ice breaker to ensure the rest of the conference can go well, I pull out all of the great work that their child has completed this year. Even if it is not a lot, it is a great starting point.

Now, when the conferences get to the uncomfortable point because the teacher has to describe their concerns for that student. This is where it gets tricky. During this period of the conference I explain the concerns I have to the parents, hopefully without any interruptions. Then, I go into great detail on what I am doing within school hours to help the student improve, and how I can see the parents assisting with their students education at home. Again, they could get defensive because they do not want anyone looking at the child or themselves poorly.

Next, I ask the parents if they have questions, comments, or concerns. I listen to them and answer all the questions. Finally, I reiterate the good points from the beginning and how we can work together to ensure the education and growth of their child. By this time the parent is excited about the plan WE created to help their child succeed that they thank me and head out on their way.

My advice is to enter the conferences with confidence and a plan for their child. If you let the parents feel like they are a part of the process, usually they take the information better than if you are just telling them what to do. Parents are the best ally you can have for that child's education. You do not want to make enemies with the parents because the only person you are hurting is the child because they will not take your class seriously if the parents are not taking you seriously.

High School math teacher from Colorado

Important information!

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I completely agree with all of the information that you have presented here. I just wish that I had been exposed to these ideas before I started teaching. My knowledge of parent/teacher relationships comes from experience in the field and it has not always been positive. After a lot of failure. I have learned to compromise with parents in a way that is respectful of their values and mine. In my college days, I didn't give much thought to parents being a difficult part of teaching. I wish every degree program across the country would incorporate this type of class into their requirements. Thanks for sharing.

Building Confidence in Students, One Child at a Time

Thanks a lot for sharing this

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Thanks a lot for sharing this interesting post! I believe it is very important for teachers and parents to work together for the betterment of the children. Parents and teachers should actively participate and help their children with learning.

Teacher and Educational Journalist

Response to Carrie-Anne

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Thanks Carrie-Anne.

I think your point about parents liking to learn is an important one.

I also think that teachers who use a public school classroom as a bully pulpit for their political and social values should be challenged. The trick is to be able to be authentic in sharing one's views on political and social issues while also rewarding students who share very different points of view. And as a history teacher you have an absolute obligation to explore alternative interpretations.

Again, thanks for engaging in dialogue about this column.


Social Media Lead at

Great article. I think a lot

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Great article. I think a lot of teachers underestimate the importance of involving parents when it comes to education. When parents are active in their children's education it really encourages learning as well as new forms of understanding. Parents like to learn too, and being open to new and different viewpoints in a safe and respectful atmosphere is great for students to allow them to develop and form their own opinions as well.

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