5 tips for a better parent-teacher conference
October 18th, 2012
04:20 AM ET

5 tips for a better parent-teacher conference

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - For many parents and teachers, it’s the first opportunity of the school year to sit down face to face and discuss everything from curriculum to issues that arise in the classroom.  Here are some tips from both sides of the desk on how to make the most of a parent-teacher conference.

Do your homework

Talking to your child before the conference to find out if he has any questions or concerns of his own can give you ideas of what to address with the teacher.  A good next step:  having a physical list of questions.

The National PTA says that the “questions you ask during the conference can help you express your hopes for the student’s success in class and for the teacher.”

It’s an idea echoed by Ryan Koczot, an award-winning middle school teacher in North Carolina.  “Parents should come to the conference prepared (note pad, pen, list of questions) - just like teachers should be prepared (information on the child, progress report, questions for the parent).”  This will help get everyone on the same page.

Join forces

Several teachers have told us that the best results follow when parents and teachers work together.  According to Debbie Geiger of Scholastic.com, “The goal of both the teacher and the parent should be the success of the student, but sometimes parents have a hard time discussing tough issues.”

Geiger suggests starting off by complimenting the teacher on something that he or she seems to be doing right - a piece of advice echoed by the National PTA.  This can set a positive tone for the meeting and help foster cooperation later on.

If there’s a problem that has developed between your child and a particular subject or teacher, look for ways to address it together.  “Be a team player,” suggests New Jersey middle school teacher Donna Spoto.  “Let the teacher know that you are on his/her side.”

Open lines of communication

Divorce, remarriage, foreclosure, moving, a new baby:  These are just a few of the personal issues that can affect a student’s behavior and work on campus.

A 7th grade social studies teacher in Tennessee said that one area where parents fall short is letting teachers know of problems in a student’s life outside of school.  “When parents don’t tell us what’s happening, we can’t adjust accordingly.”

Spoto agrees that “stress and emotional issues definitely affect a student’s work.”  By informing the teacher of possible causes, you will help the teacher better understand the child and be more equipped to appropriately instruct him.

Aim for action

Coming up with an action plan to address academic or behavioral concerns can benefit the parent, the teacher and the student long after the conference is over.  The National PTA recommends establishing a series of steps that both you and the teacher agree on.  A couple ideas to consider:  what your short- and long-term plans are, and how you’ll measure progress.

One of first actions you can take after the conference is going over key points and discussion topics with your child.  “Depending on his age and maturity level, he may need help understanding what problems - and solutions - were covered.  Most kids also want to have a clear idea of what’s expected of the teacher, the parent(s), and, most importantly, from [them],” writes Kristin Stanberry of Greatschools.org.

Keep in touch

Once an action plan is in place, try to determine how you’ll follow up with the teacher in the weeks and months ahead.  Will it be through written notes, a phone call, or another conference?  Koczot says that an email or phone contact at school can help the parent “check in on their child weekly or in a couple of weeks to see how they are doing.”

And it’s not a bad idea to inform your child that you’re keeping in touch with her school.  “When a child knows parents and teachers are regularly working together, the child will see that education is a high priority requiring commitment and effort,” according to the National PTA.

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Filed under: At Home • Carl Azuz • Elementary school • Five things • High school • Middle school • Parents • Teachers
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Nicholas

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    October 30, 2012 at 5:43 am |
  2. DiedrichKyrian

    Penny.

    What is infuriating to me is your lack of comprehension about schools and school work. Part of the school process is to also help teach children about assignments and getting the assignments on time. They're not the center of the universe but its obvious where your priorities truly lie. By the time you get the assignment to them, your child is already behind the other class, also how is it fair to the other students as well? Why does YOURS get preferential treatment. And asking the teacher to get something that YOU should get for your child. Part of raising a child is to sometimes have to put aside sometime for their homework. I would say dont have kids but Im pretty sure you already do. I would have some choice words to you but I will leave it as that. God I hope your kids turn out differently than you.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  3. cornerd

    In regards to letting a teacher know what's going on this household – that can be a smart move! A child new to my class was really struggling with reading/writing, despite his obvious intelligence. But he was 8 years old and couldn't write simple words. When we finally got to meet the parent, she explained that up until two years ago, he'd been deaf. He'd had his hearing restored, but since our language is phonetic (based on sounds), he had severe trouble comprehending reading/writing. With this knowledge, we were able to supply him with tools he needed to help catch up. If she hadn't shared that with us, we'd be recommending him for all sorts of unnecessary testing to find out why he was so behind.

    October 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  4. larkwoodgirl

    Both parents and teachers want the same thing. They both want to do with is right for their kids. If everyone keeps that goal in mind then parent-teacher conferences usually work out pretty well and constructive results are usually seen. I think that both parents and teachers need to keep an open mind. I have attended many conferences where the student has just absolutely lied to the parents and the parents show up at the conference, without all the information, ready to jump on me with all fours. These conference usually do not go well, especially for the student.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  5. erin

    The only parents who show up to conferences are those whose kids are doing great in school. The ones that the teachers really NEED to talk to won't come.

    October 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
  6. Mr Muffinopolis

    You should teach your children the importance of using maple syrup as lube. You should also tell them that mating with a bucket of lard should be avoided.

    October 20, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  7. Jason A

    As a teacher and parent I can tell you beyond doubt that the problem with the education system is parents. Some are essentially absent, some don't discipline their kids at all, and others make excuses when their child makes mistakes. I called him about a student cheating on an exam, and the mother complained to me that it was my fault, yes my fault, that her son cheated and because of that her son shouldn't be given a zero on the exam. Sorry, it's not my fault your son mad a bad decision, it's his. When you teach a kid that there aren't consequences to their actions, they will behave that way in school. End of story.

    October 19, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Dave 99

      Sorry, it's not my fault your son mad a bad decision, it's his.

      And you are a teacher? One who can't spell? Glad my son doesn't have you as a teacher. Maybe it is your fault.

      October 20, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
      • Marr W

        A typo makes someone a bad teacher...I think you are the type of person he/she is talking about. LOL. If all you have to make your point is a typo you might as well keep it to yourself because everyone is just rolling their eyes at your post.

        October 20, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
      • stanw

        Dave 99,

        You failed to use quotation marks. Was this a typo?

        October 21, 2012 at 9:28 am |
      • iameducated

        Isn't that the pot calling the kettle black.

        October 22, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
      • mary

        JERK–lighten up. It was a typo.

        October 23, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Ellen

      Surely not all of your parents condone lying and cheating. I do think that many parents are overloaded with their responsibilities, and hope that the school is providing structure that they may not be able to. Or perhaps willing to, I know this can be the case. But the children are at stake, their lives, their futures, and when the home fails to provide what the child needs, the school system is a part of the replacement structure that children need to help them learn to apply themselves, and to become productive citizens and future taxpayers. Think of it as an investment in your own Social Security support, when you help a child turn out right. Or perhaps find another field if you can't find some way to try to understand both the child and the parent in this situation. Before deciding that the kid and the parent are just slackers, it seems there may need to be some research into the kid and his performance issues. Like is it different from last year and the year before (as in, is this a recent change for the worse)? Does the child seem frustrated in a restricted high-stakes test-based learning environment? What made the kid turn into a cheater? Does he struggle with the material and feels pressured to succeed, even though he doesn't have the tools to learn as he may be capable of? Does he need testing to determine if he has learning disabilities? Is this child actually bright, but has some learning difficulty that needs to be addressed? Or is he on the lower end of IQ scales, and needs more generalized support, including tutoring and time management support? Did the child miss a fundamental learning block in the subject, and now is struggling with the next phase of the subject matter (common in math and reading). Do they need access to audio textbooks, did you have their vision checked to make sure they can see the board? Parents are what they are, some outstanding, some substandard, but each child deserves your support.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • LP

        " . . . many parents are overloaded with their responsibilities . . . "

        If you are a parent, your PRIMARY responsibility is to your child and doing all you can toward their success as a human being. That includes constructive communication with your child and your child's teacher, as this article describes.

        Your post implies that teachers should be responsible for researching every possibility as to why a child might be having difficulty, and that is just an impossibility. Teachers today have 30 – 40 kids in a class, and there aren't enough hours in a day to do that. Teachers can be a resource, but they can't do it all. Parents have to do their part and not be excused because they are "busy".

        Most people are in the teaching profession because they do care and they do all they can to support their students. Most put in long hours and a fair chunk of their own money to enhance their students' learning experience. I think you are expecting them to be parents, too, and that is not their role.

        October 22, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  8. gonefishin

    No point trying to talk with somebody who is not ready to listen.

    October 19, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  9. jj

    I remember being sent to parent-teacher conferences when I was in high school to talk about my little sister with her teachers. A lot of responsibility to give a big sister!

    October 19, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  10. pghmom

    The goal is to gradually transition the full responsibility for a child's academic success to the child by the time he or she is old enough to accept that responsibility – for some, it will be 6th grade for others several years later. In order to do that, parents will have to back off and allow their children to suffer adverse consequences when they fail to do what is required. I did not attend parent-teacher conferences after the 6th or 7th grade.

    October 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • erin

      It's in middle school when kids fall apart if the parents are suddenly hands-off. They may be bigger, but they're still kids, and they still need you to teach them how to be organized and responsible about school. No, I don't mean doing things for them, but checking for homework completion each night, talking with them about what they're learning in their classes, looking in their bag once in a while and telling themif they need to organize it, etc. Parent support changes when they become teenagers, but it shouldn't stop.

      October 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
      • katherine

        Very well said!! I believe you're right. Just because kids are a bit more grown up doesn't mean their the parent's need to let go of the communication responsibility between them and the teacher. Parents should still be help somewhat accountable for their child's success in school.

        October 21, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • Daniel

      The beginning and first stages of puberty? Really? Wow. That was actually when I needed my folks to be more hands on than say 9-11 years of age. I think it is less about generalizations than just recognizing what YOUR child needs from you as a parent and that is too be as involved as necessary! Not judging... just saying...

      October 20, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • Ellen

      6th grade? Your kids must be amazing. Even high school students need parent support and assistance, help with their time managment, encouragement to get through difficult coursework, help with test preparation, help with planning their future, even getting their act together regarding their relationships with teachers, respect for their schools, help with inadequate teaching – there's plenty of work for parents to do in supporting their kids, all of K-12 years. It just gets different as you transition portions of the responsiblity to the student, but it's not done until they head off to college, and many of them would still likely benefit from your support of their efforts. Again, it does become a different kind of support as they get older and more able to take responsibility, but with high US dropout rates in high school, something tells me these kids still need us. In their academic decisions and work, and in their personal lives. Help them turn out right, you only go around once on this development, helping them to grow into responsible, capable adults.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  11. Former Student

    As a child my parents did not attend a single conference with any of my teachers. I always felt my parents didn't care. Meeting with your child's teacher is an opportunity to talk with the person who spends everyday with your child. This is important for the child, not the teacher, administrator or parent. Adults don't care, but it is the child who feels his/her accomplishments aren't worth taking time to acknowledge. That is the problem with the education system. Everyone thinks it about the adults, when it should be about the child. Get over yourselves, and put your child first. I sure wish I was put first once in awhile as a kid.

    October 19, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  12. Joe from USA

    I NEVER went to a parent teacher conference and neither did my wife. The school was not happy and we were harassed by the principal for not going. My kids always had good grades and I saw no reason to waste my time talking with their teacher. I pay the teacher to do a job and apparently he/she was doing it because my kids were doing great. I only met 2 or 3 of my kids teachers during their entire educational careers. In my opinion, these conferences should only be for parents of kids having issues... BTW, both my kids went on to great colleges (Harvard & Georgetown) and have great careers.

    October 19, 2012 at 7:57 am |
    • Joaquin

      Jim, have no fear. We shall not judge you, for having not gone. Do as you will.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • nat

      Well Joe I am not disputing that it worked out for you. However PT conferences are not just for kids with issues. They are also a chance for the teacher to share good news, to highlight some of the great work kids do, to offer insight both ways, to see how the educational experience might be made even better. No child is perfect. Even with top marks, a good teacher should have some goals for your child to work toward, goals your child and you as a parent should be aware of and work together to achieve. I am sorry that you missed out on that aspect of conferences, and might I add you are your child's first teacher. You are responsible for your child's education- teachers and schools are expert technicians there to help make it happen. Communication with a teacher-for any reason-is never a waste of time.I am sorry to hear a parent view time spent at their child's school-for anything-a waste of time. Sad and disheartened. Your kids have had great success-congrats on that-but you, my friend, missed out on some of it.

      October 19, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • Oakspar

      You were harassed by the principal, because he wanted to have high percentages of parental engagement (it is part of his review model). Thus, getting you there helps him keep and justify his job at review time – much like your children's test scores do for the teacher.

      The teacher didn't care that you didn't show up. The parents that teachers need to see are those of struggling students. Those parents seldom attend because they are either (1) inferior parents, (2) are sick of hearing bad news about their struggling child, or (3) both. The parents teachers most often see are parents of high achievers who love to have their ego stoked with stories of how awesome their children are.

      October 19, 2012 at 11:28 am |
    • lydron

      I am a parent who wanted to hear of any problems my children may be having in at school. but was also very reassured and relieved to hear the positive comments about my children. It validated that what my husband and I were doing was working, not only when it came to grades but also when it came to character. As a teacher, I am always amazed at the number of parents who do not attend parent-teacher conferences. I wondered if the no-shows simply do not value education, or do not care about their child's development. When you state that teacher conferences are a "waste of time", may I ask what you did with that time that could have been more important?

      October 19, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
      • Sandy

        You might consider that some parents work nights and some parents do not have cars, so might face a large bill for a taxi, given that evening routes for buses are far more limited than daytime routes. Also worth a thought is that the parent might not have anyone to watch small children while they are at the conference, and sitters are hard to find and expensive. The parents also could have health concerns that interfere with their attendance. You are assuming these parents can get to school as easily as you can, and your conclusion is they don't care about their kids. You could be way off the mark, so allow these families the benefit of the doubt.

        October 20, 2012 at 4:12 am |
      • Daniel

        @Sandy – Birth control is basically free. If you cannot afford to make sure your children; which should be your highest priority after keeping yourself alive, do not get a good education then you should not have them. Excuses. Yes, parents have it tough and parents on the lowest income ladder have it toughest. Excuses. Kids come first. FIND a baby sitter, or guess what I'm SURE the local church would be happy to watch your kids so you can get to a parent/teacher conference. or a trusted friend, etc. I'm also VERY sure any teacher worth his or her 'certificate' would be willing to meet with you during a lunch break briefly, etc. Excuses. If you have kids and you don't do everything in your power to help them be a success in life how do you call yourself a parent?

        October 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
      • Jess

        Sitters? I always just bring my children and they play in the corner. An older child could wait for you outside in the hallway. The lack of a sitter should not keep you from attending a meeting with the teacher. I'm sure most teachers don't care, they would rather have parents attend than not at all.

        October 22, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Mike Johnson

      Do you realize that you are coming across as arrogant? Sure, your kids did well in school academically, but you don't think that over the course of 12 years that the teachers might have had some insight about your children? Maybe they were rude once in a while, maybe they could have used a suggestion about social behavior, maybe they picked their nose. I cannot imagine that using some suggestions from your children's teachers would not have benefitted them in some way. Grades and academic achievement are not everything. I know darn well they are not perfect like Dad.

      October 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
      • Busydaddy

        IIf it ain't broke, why fix it? The only reason a parent of a great student would get harassed for not attending is because poor parent attendance may reflect poorly on the principal's performance appraisal. Public Education never puts our kids first. It's about an easy money grab first. Education is secondary... Look at the falling SAT scores, ever since Lyndon Johnson federalized "Public Education." We spend the most on education and have some of the worst test scores on the planet... Blame the parent for not attending a teacher conference? Who are you kidding? We should privatize education and treat it like any business. We don't. Instead, we bail them out like GM, 365 days a year, year after year with our taxes and let the unions dictate the rules. When was the last time you put a fox in charge of your chicken coup? Is it any surprise that Public Education fails to take responsibility and resorts to blaming parents... for not attending meetings?

        October 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Matt W

      I know parents who have totally neglected/abused their kids and they turned out great. Does that mean we should all do it that way? No, you abdicated your responsiblity to your children AND their teacher...you should not be proud of that.

      October 20, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • katherine

      WOW! Think what they could have accomplished if you had gone to their parent teacher conferences! By the way PTC are not only to discuss grades, they are to discuss any personal or social needs the child may have. It's for the good of the teacher as well.

      October 21, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  13. The_Mick

    The KEY thing is keeping in touch with the teacher and staying on top of your kid's homework and behavior. In general, the teacher is trained to look for a way to create and atmosphere where your kid likes coming to class, so it's unprofessional if the teacher is not suggesting constructive ways for your kid to improve. If the teacher doesn't seem to be doing that (everyone has bad days), steer the conversation in that direction.

    October 19, 2012 at 2:20 am |
  14. mrswright

    as the mother of a 30 year old son, i've always let his teachers know that we are a team and that i will reinnforce what's taught in the classroom at home. i am currently the mother of a 15 month old son and we will be ready for school when that time comes.

    October 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Mr Muffinopolis

      Close your legs, woman... If you already have a kid that's 30, you're done.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:52 am |
      • donnadbd

        This is concerning Mr Muffinopis's comments. I don't know what your problem is or if you're just here to stir things up when you post, but comments like yours are pretty worthless. I'm just disappointed there isn't a button or link to recommend that someone's banned from a blog or posting.

        Either Mr Muffinopis had problems with teachers or the education system overall since his comments really are offensive and hardly pertain to the subject of this blog. I'm not against free speech, just inappropriate remarks that don't add any value to the topic here.

        Tell me what the ____ "You should teach your children the importance of using maple syrup as lube. You should also tell them that mating with a bucket of lard should be avoided." or "Close your legs, woman... If you already have a kid that's 30, you're done" has to do with anything regarding education.

        Sounds like Mr Muffinopolis could use a refresher and either see s psychiatrist or go back and try doing school all over.

        October 22, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  15. Penny

    The core misunderstanding from which everything else stems is summed up Ms. Geiger's comment about complimenting the teacher on something he/she did right to set the tone to foster cooperation later on. This suggests that it's on the parent to foster that cooperation. I think that wrong, because it's the teacher, and not the parent and not the student, who is responsible for fostering cooperation. Why? Many reasons, starting with the fact that the parent pays the taxes that support the school system, which means that the school system (teachers, principals, other personnel), should be thinking and operating in ways that meet the parents needs (after the students' needs, of course). I work in a non-profit. Does my boss have to set the tone for a good relationship with me? No. He pays my salary, and thus it's my job to figure out what makes him tick and I have to set the tone for a relationship with him. This may be trivial, but how the people involved understand their relationship dictate what they expect from each other, and who must adjust to whom. So if I, as the parent, tell the principal that I am a single, working mother and thus would appreciate it he tells his teachers not to assign work to the students due during that same work week, that involve the parent having to get a spply outside the home for the student to complete the assignment, that request should be immeidately granted with no backtalk and no funny looks about why I think getting the assignment on Monday to get a shoebox for diorama on Thursday is unreasonable. After working a full day, I then go out after dinner and comb the maill for shoe box form a shoe store which may not be available, which means I have to go store to store when I am exhausted from a full day. The schools should know better, but if they don't a parent says something, their job is to shut up and listen. I pay the bills. I say jump, the school's only answer, in my opinion, is how high.

    October 18, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • DiedrichKyrian

      When I see the last line like that I just think of a line "You think that gives you power over me?"

      Teachers arent just in it for a paycheck, they're here to help your kid. They also have their OWN guidleines they have to follow from the state and perhaps they dont really have a choice in givign your kid homework.

      But the whole "This way or highway" what the frak happened with compromise. IF we can NOT compromise as a culture than the devil take us because we're going to eat each other alive.

      October 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Dondover

      Penny missed a few things in growing up, like growing itself. She seems of one simple mind and full of arrogance. First, she doesn't pay the bill, most of her direct property taxes are lower than 40%, or lower than 30%. And we all pay the bill. But what's really important is treating people with respect, and if you lack that, there's the common sense approach of "you'll catch more fliers with honey". And I pity her in her job, if she's there to be a lackey. I've worked for many corporations and they are enlightened about proper respectful relationships. They've learned that that kes for a more productive environment. I think I did hear someday say "teamwork".

      October 18, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • Oh my

      1) here is a perfect example of wanting to put the parenting off on the school system
      2) Because you are a single, working mom- like MANY- your child should not be held to the same standards as others? Everyone is exhaused- it's called being a parent.

      October 19, 2012 at 8:44 am |
      • Penny

        Did not mean to imply that children of single working parents should be treated differently than children from two parent families. I think it is the acme of self-centeredness for teachers to assign homework to students on a Monday which involves obtaining a product outside the home - and whether a single working parent has to run around the mall on a weekday night to get it after working all, or a stay at home parent has to do it, I think it reflects the endemic self-centeredness of the school systems - they think they are the center of the universe and when they request something (from the child, or from the parent), it's non-negotiable. Who do they think they are? They are not the center of my universe. My universe involves taking care of my bills, seeing doctors, taking care of my business responsibilities, taking care of my house, and of course, taking care of my child. The school is also list, but not always at the top. They need to wait their turn. They need to encourage parents to say to them, when they have a request of the parent (or child): "Well, Mr. Jones, I will be happy to get that shoebox for the school project, but it can't happen this week because I am tied up. I would be happy to get it next weekend, or I can give you a check for you to get the shoebox. But I cannot get it this week." But schools don't do this. They snap their fingers, and you are supposed to jump. Again, I don't know who they think they are, but they are NOT the center of the universe. This is just infuriating to me.

        October 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • Oakspar

      Teachers do not work for parents, they work for the state. Parents do not pay teachers – parents (and nonparents, including the teachers themselves) are taxed and that money is used to hire and employ teachers for the good of society (not for the good of parents).

      If you want teachers who work for you, you will have to go to a private school so that you can be the one paying for them. You will still be paying just as much tax, because your tax money wasn't to educate YOUR child – it is to educate all children for the good of society. You would be charged the same tax even if you never had a child – because it is not about you.

      If you tell a teacher to shut up and listen, the teach should ask you to leave. If you refuse, they should call the police to have you removed for tresspassing. If you threaten them, well, in most states threatening a state employee is a crime (above the crime that threatening is by itself in many states).

      A teacher's duty is not to the parent, nor even the child, but to society – to produce law-abiding citizens who work, pay taxes, and support society. That means a focus on helping children aquire the skills that will keep them employed, out of prison, off of welfare, and earning as much as possible to increase tax revenue.

      I believe many teachers would see an embarassing lesson in humility from being dressed down by a teacher in front of your child would be a valuable object lesson for your child's benefit (and some much needed albeit delayed education for yourself from your public school system).

      October 19, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Concerned

      Talking to the principal is the problem. Since it seems like the only concern you have is when a student's assignment requires you to get something let the teacher know this week one. It is likely that the thought did not occur to them that parents would prefer the weekend to do this. If you talk to the teacher I am sure it would be just as easy for them to assign the acquiring of the materials on the Friday before the week they are planning to have the child use them. Now if you have other demands about how your child's teachers do their jobs then all the years your student is in public education are going to be very frustrating. There is no way that a teacher can accommodate what every child needs, every parent wants, and every state demands. And as your child gets older the number of students each teacher has to care for increases. So by the time you student is in High school each teacher can have up 180 students to work with and so they will not be able to manage 180 different policy requests from all the parents. Just remember there are no enemies or sides to be on. Everyone is on the child’s side even if a student is receiving consequences for their actions the teacher is still on their side the point is to learn and grow and having clear boundaries that children know not to cross. This helps them to be successful. So parents and teachers should not be pitted against each other. If the students know this is happening they will use it to their advantage to take the heat of themselves and have the adults distrusting each other.

      October 20, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Daniel

      Really? So based upon the grade level a teacher has at LEAST 25 kids many of whom have 'two sets' of parents to deal with and it is YOUR kids you are talking about here and you expect THEM to be the ones to "foster cooperation"? Wow. Umm... so... you expect the teacher to care more about your kids success than you do? I guess my view is and always will be my childrens' teachers are partners with me in my childrens' education. Partners... not 'sole providers'. I expect my kids to learn at LEAST as much from me as from their teachers on the same subjects. I not only make sure my kids do their homework but I actively look for ways to reinforce the subject matter in everyday life to help bolster them. I'm not judging anyone because that isn't my right, but I am trying to point out what should be obvious. These are YOUR kids you are talking about here. Not the teacher's. Their success or failure is not anyone's fault but theirs and yours as their parents.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
    • Samantha

      ::facepalm::

      I don't even know what to say to this post. Seriously.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:40 am |
  16. sybaris

    DON'T take your kid!

    It's a PARENT – TEACHER conference, not PARENT-CHILD-TEACHER conference.

    Taking your kid detracts from serious discussion.

    October 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Oakspar

      This depends on the age of your child. Elementary? All having a child there does is illustrate to the teacher your ability or lack therof to control your child, and while it might explain a lot to the teacher if your child is a perfect angel or a wild animal – it doesn't really help.

      By the high school years, however, having the child there is important. By the teen years, it is becoming the child's responsisbility to oversee their education as they transition towards independence. Having a child there also removes one of the great annoyances of high school education: being the go-between for parents and students who do not communicate with one another. By the time a child is old enough to be legally trusted driving a ton of steel at 70 MPH, it is shameful that a parent would ask or that a teacher would consider going behind that child's back to discuss grades, performance, or strategies to improve.

      October 19, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
      • Daniel

        I"m with you on this one. At some point the 'young adult' needs to be involved with their own education. At that point I wish it wasn't a 'parent/teacher' conference, but rather a 'John's education planning session' with John, his folks, and his teacher discussing successes, challenges, and plans to help leverage his strengths and work on his weaknesses. This means EVERYONE is on the same page. Nobody can 'cop out' and say they didn't know what was going on. K-8th grade? Yeah, leave the kids with the folks, a sitter, whatever but at that point the kids are basically just a distraction and won't really add much value to any planning conversations around education challenges and needs. The kids do need to know the conversation is going to happen and should be encouraged to participate with the parents in the writing of questions, concerns, likes/dislikes on subject material, teaching methodology, etc., but don't come to the meeting itself. Just my two cents on the matter of course.

        October 20, 2012 at 11:10 pm |
    • ScienceMom28

      I am a 4th grade teacher, and I prefer to have students at conferences. I like them to hear what we have to say about them. I also like them to contribute to the conversation – talk about what they like, don't like, why they think they might be struggling if they are struggling in a subject. Some schools do fully student-led conferences, even in the lower grades. IIt is the student's education, after all.

      October 21, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  17. Ali

    i like food

    October 18, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  18. Ali

    I think its a great idea to let the kids do a lot of talking so if the parent or the teacher have any questions the kid can just easily explain or answer the question

    October 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  19. Hakan

    - The most important thing you can teach your kid is "How to be happy"
    – Kids imitate their parents with right and wrong doings. Try to see what wrong doing your kid picked up from father and mother to try to fix those.

    Hakan

    http://dominor.com

    October 18, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
  20. Kirk

    Any questions? ask ann romney, she is simpply the greatest mother since teresa. ........ concerned democrat

    October 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
  21. Kirk

    1.show up. 2. dont show up drunk. 3. stop making excuses for your child and get informed. 4. dontassume your smarter than the teacher, they see your child without your influence. 5. shut up and listen.

    October 18, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • Daniel

      1.) Given 2.) Should be a given 3.) Agreed excuses don't solve issues or help children overcome challenges. 4.) Meow... sounds a bit defensive to me. A teacher shouldn't also assume they are smarter than the parents either or make snap judgements about them just based on 'little Margaret's' behavior. 5.) NO NO NO. I will NOT just shut up and listen this my child we're talking about here. I agree you have to let the teacher have their 'honest say' about things without immediate defensive behavior, excuse making, and certainly don't get angry at the teacher for it, but I WILL have my say about things if I think more attention needs to be paid to specific things for my child's success that ARE out of my hands. If my child is a 'whiz' in math but the teacher insists that she has to 'follow along' with the class when she is already a month ahead in the curriculum I WILL say something about coming up with more challenging subject material.

      October 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm |