We at Project Motherhood KNOW you need a Mama Peptalk for your Parent-Teacher Conference!
You would think that WE were the kids sometimes. Like when we feel that bit of trepidation before meeting up with a teacher to hear a report about our darling offspring!
A Parent-Teacher Conference can push our Mommy buttons because we think we might feel judged as to how good a job we are doing with raising our children.
And, honestly, after attending every single Parent-Teacher Conference throughout the years for both of my children, I understand that sometimes there IS a reason to be concerned, since not all teachers are created equal. (Just like the rest of the world, just saying!)
Sometimes at my children’s Parent-Teacher Conference, I was greeted by a teacher who would say, “What are YOU doing here?! Your child is doing terrifically.” And then I learned, eventually, to smile and explain, “I attend every conference for my children. I want make sure he/she is working to the best of his or her own abilities.” This way, I knew the teacher would realize that my child had support and guidance going on at home.
Other times, I was surprised to hear about deficiencies or critiques of my child’s behavior that caused my protective cheeks to burn. And then I knew I had to sit on my own ego, and listen hard and ask some really direct questions. The key then, for me, was to think on my feet, even though I was sitting, LOL. And to remind myself that this feedback was helpful to me in raising my child.
So based on years of both positive and negative experiences, this is a list I came up with that might help you Mamas as you face, not dread, your upcoming Parent-Teach Conferences.
How To Get Through Your Parent-Teacher Conferences
- Use the conference to help your child. This is your only purpose for being there, so keep it in the front of your mind!
- Get Specific. Ask for examples. Ask to see samples of your child’s work. Ask about the grade rubric, whether there are any missed assignments, etc. Inquire about upcoming projects that you may not know about. Be engaged!
- Don’t be afraid to ask to see the gradebook. It is your right to see, especially if your child is complaining or struggling. And don’t hesitate to ask for a correction if you note an error, since this is part of your child’s Permanent Record, and it needs to be correct.
- Ask if you can volunteer. Even if you only have time to help with a single event, this is one of the best ways to see both your child and the teacher in action.
- Present yourself as an ally to the teacher. He or she will be more determined to help your child if they see you as someone who is supportive and working towards the same goals.
- Simultaneously, be an advocate for your child. You hold the power in this situation. You are an authority on your own child. The teacher is, in effect, your employee. (Remember those School Taxes you pay?)
- Discuss, don’t debate. Nuff said. But, if you cannot establish a reasonable communication despite your best efforts, don’t be afraid to suggest a meet-up with the teacher’s supervisor. And follow through, if necessary.
- Most importantly, discuss the conference with your child, both before and after. Beforehand, ask them if they have any concerns, and promise them you will address them. Make sure your child knows you are on their team. Afterwards, give them the feedback that will help them improve or continue their good work. Pass on any criticism, constructively. And don’t forget the compliments, however large or small.
I think we all can agree that each child deserves to be compared only with themselves. And our job as a parent is to see to it that they have every opportunity available to them in school, based on their own unique abilities, whether your child is gifted, average, special needs, or um, “behaviorally challenged”!
I recommend accepting the feedback you receive at the Parent-Teacher Conference as a gift. So embrace this year’s upcoming Parent-Teacher Conference, hold your Mama head high, and get out there and represent for your child’s team!
Do you have any stories about Parent-Teacher Conferences that you want to share?