Parent-teacher conferences are an important time for parents and teachers to come together and discuss a child’s progress, strengths, and areas of improvement. However, traditional conferences where the teacher talks and parents listen are becoming less and less effective. Interactive parent-teacher conferences, where both parties actively participate, are essential to parent engagement.
Benefits of Interactive Parent-Teacher Conferences
Interactive parent-teacher conferences help students, families, and teachers. When both parents and teachers actively participate in the conference, it builds trust. Parents feel heard, and teachers can understand their concerns and perspectives. When both parties participate, it creates a dialogue where parents and teachers can share their thoughts and ideas, learn from one another, and engage in planning and problem-solving collaboratively. When parents feel heard and understood, they are more likely to be involved in their child’s learning and development.
When parents and teachers work together, it enhances student learning. Parents can share their knowledge about their child, and teachers can provide feedback and suggestions to help the child succeed. Engaged parents are often more willing and better equipped to support their child’s learning at home and in the community. School leaders can support teachers in making these conferences more interactive by providing guidance, resources, and training.
Provide guidance to teachers on how to structure the conferences to make them more interactive. Encourage teachers to create an agenda that allows for discussion and collaboration. Suggest that they prepare open-ended questions to ask parents to prompt them to share their thoughts and ideas. Encourage teachers to seek feedback from parents on how they can improve the conferences.
Offer Training and Resources
Provide training to teachers on how to conduct interactive conferences. The training can include role-playing activities where teachers practice how to ask open-ended questions, listen actively, and encourage parents to participate in the conversation. As part of this training, offer teachers resources such as articles, videos, or books that provide guidance on how to conduct interactive conferences to help them understand the benefits of interactive conferences and provide strategies to make them successful.
Conferences can be stressful for teachers, and they may need time to plan and prepare. Provide time for teachers to prepare for parent-teacher conferences. This could include time previously scheduled for other meetings, teacher planning days, or even having someone cover a class for a short while to allow a teacher to reflect on an individual student and prepare to meet with the parent.
Interactive parent-teacher conferences can improve communication and build strong relationships between parents and teachers. By providing guidance, resources, training, time, and encouraging feedback, principals can support their teachers in making these conferences more interactive, improving outcomes for students, families, and teachers.