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A conference provides for two-way communication. By exchanging information, parents and teachers can set the stage for a great school year. Parents with concerns are encouraged to ask for a conference at any time during the year. Parents should expect to spend 15 to 25 minutes at an elementary school conference. For specific needs, parents may call the teacher to schedule a conference or send an email message requesting a conference.
How to Schedule an Elementary School Parent-Teacher Conference
Elementary schools schedule conferences in both the fall and the spring. The teacher will develop a conference schedule and invite parents to sign up for conference times. Some times are during the day and others are after school. An evening date is set for both fall and spring conferences.
The fall conference is required, and spring conferences are strongly recommended for some students.
∑ Parents may also ask for a conference with teachers of other subject areas, such as reading teachers, exceptional education teachers, art, music, ESL, second language or physical education teachers.
∑ Parents should let the teacher know if they wish for their children to participate in the conferences.
Suggestions for a Successful Conference
Talk with Your Child
Before you attend the conference, spend a few minutes talking with your child. Tell him or her that you need help preparing for the conference. You might begin with these steps:
∑ Ask what he /she would like you to talk about with the teacher.
∑ Ask what he /she thinks the teacher will say.
∑ Ask about the things he /she likes and doesnít like, problems and successes.
∑ Let him /her know that after the conference you will discuss what the teacher said.
Think about Questions You Would Like to Ask
Prepare some questions in advance. Here are some suggestions:
∑ What will be covered in this grade or subject this year?
∑ What are your expectations for homework? Has my child missed any assignments?
∑ Has my child been absent, other than the times I contacted the school about?
∑ You should ask the teacher, what you can do at home to help your child become more successful in his or her schoolwork.
What Should the Teacher Know?
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else does. Here is some information that you might want to share with your childís teacher:
∑ favorite subjects;
∑ outside interests and hobbies;
∑ medical or health needs; or
∑ Tell them of other concerns that you think might affect your childís performance.
At the Conference
Keep an open mind. Remember that both you and the teacher want to help your child succeed.
Your goal is to work for cooperation between you and the teacher. Even if the teacher says something you disagree with, try to listen to what he or she has to say. Other suggestions include:
∑ You might want to ask the teacher to show you some samples of the studentís work. Thereís no better way to see how your child is progressing.
∑ Ask the teacher to explain anything you donít understand. Every profession has its own jargon, which can be hard to understand. If you donít understand whatís being said, ask.
∑ Sum up what you think has been said. This re-cap will make sure you both agree on any decisions you have made about your child. If necessary, ask to meet again.
After the Conference
Follow up. Stay in touch with the teacher. If you think of a question you did not ask, write a note or call. Talk with your child. Stress the positive things the teacher said, and talk about suggestions for improvement. Plan with your child how to carry out these suggestions.
Tips for Parents on Parent-Teacher Conferences
∑ Parents should notify the school or teacher several days in advance if they need a translator for the conference.
∑ Parents or teachers may request a third party to join the conference, such as a family member, translator, administrator, advocate or special services staff person. It is helpful to inform conference participants in advance.
∑ If any participant feels that a conference is threatening, an administrator will be asked to join the conference. If an administrator is not available, the parent or teacher will terminate the conference and ask that an administrator contact the parent for a follow-up conference at a later date.
∑ Please call in advance if you cannot make a scheduled conference.
Steps to Resolve Concerns
Board policy sets out a hierarchy of contact. Concerns should be addressed first to the staff member involved and then followed in this order, if needed:
2. School principal or principal's designee
3. Superintendent or superintendent's designee
4. Board of Education
School personnel will ensure prompt and equitable resolution of complaints. Complaints should be resolved within 30 days of their origin and no later than 60 days. When there are extenuating circumstances, which prevent a resolution within this time frame, the parties may mutually agree to an extension of time. In circumstances where danger to persons or property is involved, school personnel should immediately respond to the complaint.