Four Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Four Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences
Four Tips for Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

School Heads//

October 2, 2018

Parent-teacher conferences occur a few times each year at most schools. These meetings give parents and teachers an important opportunity to talk about each student’s progress, while discussing issues and setting a course for future success.

While these meetings fall into the purview of your faculty, division heads, and possibly department chairs, the School Head also has an important role to play during parent-teacher conferences. It’s vital that you express excitement for these critical, relationship-establishing encounters, and help facilitate them.

Here are a few tips for helping parent-teacher conferences run smoothly this year and beyond.

Set goals with families and faculty. Communicate with both groups on what they might get out of a quality parent-teacher conference. Teachers should understand what outcome they want to reach with each family, whether that’s to provide an update, express an issue, or set a plan for the future. Families should understand what they want to learn during a meeting, and know what kinds of questions to ask so they are fully updated about their child’s progress.

Provide mentorship opportunities for new teachers. If this is a teacher’s first experience with parent conferences, consider pairing him or her up with another teacher who has a strong track record with building relationships with families. This can help the teacher feel more comfortable, which can, in turn, make parents feel more at ease. Create an environment where new teachers feel comfortable reaching out for guidance and mentoring, and parents feel their childrens’ teachers are confident and prepared.

Make yourself available. You should be available during conference time. Be there for teachers who want or need support and for families who want to meet with you and ask questions. Visibility is also important. Walk through the hallways on conference nights, or if your school sets up a central area for networking, be present and open to discussing individual family needs. Communicate your appreciation to families who have taken the time to attend. And, if your school has parent volunteers who help out with conferences, thank each one individually.

Ask for feedback. These conferences are about open communication and building stronger relationships with your schools’ families. Ask parents for suggestions about school improvements, and share these critiques with your faculty and staff as needed. Also, ask your employees for feedback and then communicate these ideas with your families, if relevant. Use this information to improve conference planning and professional faculty development in the future.

Would you add any recommendations to our list? Let us know in a comment below.

Additional ISM Resources:
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 15 No. 9 Are Student-Led Conferences Right for Your School?
The Source for Academic Leadership Vol. 15 No. 8 Keep Your Professional Development Initiatives Fresh This Summer
The Source for Advancement Vol. 16 No. 3 The Three C’s of Parent Communication

Additional Resources for ISM Members:
I&P Vol. 31 No. 6 Your Parent Education Plan: Predictability and Support


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