These guidelines can be applied to almost any scheduled conference with a family, but are specifically intended for use during the planned conference during the first quarter.
- Schedule each conference for 20 minutes. Let the parent(s) know this at the beginning of the conference so they, as well as you, are mindful of the time. If it looks like more time will be needed, schedule another conference when you both will have adequate time.
- If at all possible, have both parents at the conference. Parents see things differently and frequently are a good balance for each other.
- Be prepared for the conference. Know what you intend to cover and allow time for some questions. Have a record of the student’s materials to use for illustration of your points.
- Open each conference with a brief prayer.
- Be positive, especially in the case of a difficult situation. Enlist the parents’ help and ideas on ways to improve the situation.
- Be direct. If you have a concern or question, state it plainly but tactfully. Too much time may be wasted on vague references, and frequently the point is lost or misunderstood. Sit with the parents, as opposed to behind your desk. It helps open up communication if you are all “equally” sharing. Talk to both parents.
- Stay focused without being rude, and limit time used on pleasantries. Lead and direct the conference but do not do all the talking.
- Listen carefully to the parents. Ask open-ended questions as appropriate.
- Record any concerns, actions needed, or objectives for the immediate future. At the end of the conference, remind the parents of any specific actions or objectives.
- Follow up on any concerns or questions. Communicate with the respective administrator regarding challenging issues or situations. Concerns regarding retention, special testing, or placement should be brought to an administrator’s attention prior to conferencing.
- Never discuss another student during a conference, even if the comments are positive. Parents talk to each other; it is very easy to cause unintentional offense through second-hand conversations.
- Be cordial and polite and thank parents for coming.
Teacher should document all parent conferences and indicate concerns, plans for progress, and date for follow-up conference. Teachers should also document telephone conversations with parents.