Monday, October 1, 2012

"Miss Manners" Guide to Parent Teacher Conferences

Photo by google images and

Welcome October! Parents and teachers around the nation will soon be scheduling the all important communication about the success of each student into 15 to 20 minute increments.  Often while sitting in very tiny chairs they will  talk about very big topics like academic, social, and emotional development. In this high stress environment it is always good to stick with the basics therefore I have composed a 5 point "Miss Manners" guide to increase the effectiveness of Parent Teacher Conferences:

  1. Be Prepared.  Attend the Open House and make notes so you are familiar with the teacher. Have a special folder that you keep on hand to put your child's noteworthy (strength and weakness) papers. Speak to your child about their school experience. Consult with other adults in your child's life (tutor, counselor, sitter) to collect observations about your child in different settings. Reflect on last year's challenges and triumphs.  Gather all of this input and consider the most salient points to share with the teacher. 
  2.  Be Punctual.  Remember when you were taught you only have one chance to make a first impression?  Teachers run a tight schedule and punctuality is one way that you will show respect.  Dress appropriately for the meeting and arrive early.  Bring your folder with you so you can review your questions and input before it is your turn. 
  3. Be Friendly, Stay Calm.  Smile at the teacher and shake hands.  Have a compliment ready to start the conference on a positive note.  Expect that the teacher will have constructive as well as positive feedback about your child.  Refrain from defensiveness, you are collecting information and have limited time.  Take notes so you can remember the feedback so you can revisit it again in a more neutral setting at your leisure. 
  4. Be Open-Minded.  If you or the teacher have identified a problem area, you will need to develop a short term action plan.  Be proactive in asking the teacher what you can do at home to support the issue in the classroom. Breathe! Take suggestions with grace, you will have another opportunity to revisit suggestions in a follow up meeting.  Determine the best way to contact the teacher later to evaluate progress regarding the problem area.
  5. Be Grateful. Take the time to write a thank you note.  Teachers appreciate this far more than apple shaped mugs or gift cards.  Summarize the points that were helpful to you in the meeting and express your interest in working together to help your child succeed this year. Share the highlights with your child and communicate a positive message about school and the teacher.

Make the world a better place-Represent your most "mannerly" (emotionally intelligent) self in your teamwork with school.  The teacher AND your child will notice!


  1. Wonderful post! This should be handed out at all PTA meetings.

  2. Thanks Brandi- wanting all families to have a good experience at school!