Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Parent-Teacher Interview-Tips for Teachers

The parent–teacher conference is an opportunity for parents to learn about their children’s progress in school and for teachers to gain insights into their students’ home and community lives. Parent perspectives on student strengths and needs, learning styles, and nonschool learning opportunities can help teachers shape their instructional methods.
  • Renew our intentions at the beginning/end of each parent interview: Start with dua and end with dua.
  • Take a BALANCED approach: The tone of parent–teacher conferences should be balanced so that all involved understand what the student is doing well and what he or she can improve upon. Use, what I call, the SANDWICH APPROACH: Start with positives (strengths, acknowledging student/parent efforts, etc.) then move towards areas of improvement (weaknesses in the student, challenges the student is facing at school that are impeding his/her learning, etc.) and then end with positives again (mutually agreed future interventions, thanking the parent for their efforts and time, etc.). We all need praise and constructive criticism to grow. All parents are proud of their children and need to hear about their strengths as well as their challenges from you. This helps show parents that you value the unique strengths of their children and have high expectations for their ability to succeed in school and in life.
  • The focus and emphasis of all your discussion should be on LEARNING: Teachers should be prepared to discuss the academic progress of their students by using examples of student work and assessments during conferences.
  • A two-way conversation. The parent-teacher conference is not only an opportunity for parents to learn from you, but for you to learn from them. Nobody knows your students better than their families. Their insights into their child’s strengths and needs, learning styles, and nonschool learning opportunities can help you improve your instructional methods. Your efforts to better understand their aspirations and perspectives make parents feel respected and build trust with them.
  • Prepare thoughts and materials. Create an agenda or list of key issues you want to discuss about each student’s progress and growth. Also consider creating a portfolio of student work to walk through with families during the conferences.
  • Seek solutions collaboratively. Avoid judgments about what “they” should do and instead emphasize how “we” can work together to resolve any problems.
  • Make an action plan. Spend the last few minutes discussing how you and the family will support the student. Be specific about the kinds of things you will do, for how long you will do them, and how you will check in with one another about progress.
  • Establish lines of communication. Describe how you will communicate with families (i.e., through notes home, phone calls, email etc.) and how they can contact you. Schedule a way to follow up on your conference in the next few months.


Harvard Family Research Project. (2009). Parent Teacher Conference Tip Sheets for Principals, 
        Teachers, and Parents. President and Fellows of Harvard College: Cambridge, MA.

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