Teacher Conference Time: Preparation Tips from Teachers, Plus a Bonus Idea

It’s time for teacher conferences and I took the opportunity to ask a few captive teachers on the bus en route to a field trip for some ideas. I got some excellent suggestions and am passing along these insider tips. My favorites are in italics:

*Remember that most teachers offer extended conference schedules in an effort to meet your needs. They are usually provided one school day for teacher conferences and any appointments outside of that are on their own time. Be mindful of the fact that the teacher has had to adjust his or her family’s schedule to arrange the conference, so you can certainly make it a priority to adjust yours.

*Likewise, be prompt and conscientous about using this time. There are probably appointments after yours and running late will get the entire schedule off track.

*If you’re early, don’t go on into the room. The teacher may be wrapping up from a previous meeting or using the time to prepare for your meeting.

*Call if you’re runnig late or can’t make the meeting. Ask the teacher for an alternate number to call since no one will be in the office after school hours to answer a call there.

*The conference is your time to focus on your child’s progress.  Save any inquiries for your conference, not an occasion like parent night or open house when your teacher is hosting others in the classroom and isn’t at liberty to engage in a real discussion.

*Prepare for the meeting by considering not only your child’s acadmic progress but also the social and emotional aspects of his development. While the teacher will review the same basic information with everyone, it helps make the most of your time together if you have your own agenda of questions and concerns ready to review.

*Finally, a teacher shared what she is doing for her own daughter’s teacher at an upcoming conference. As a gesture of gratitude for the teacher’s time, she is bringing a loaf of breakfast bread from Panera for the teacher so she and her family can have a treat at breakfast the following morning. (I love this suggestion. Wouldn’t you be delighted to receive something that helped make your harried evening/morning just a little better?)

Of course, no teacher expects to receive anything at a conference. That’s the beauty of it! If you really want to show your appreciation, it seems more appropriate to do something that reinforces the teacher’s time and effort rather than waiting to offer an obligatory soap basket during the holidays.