Part IV: During the Conference
Here are some tips to consider while the conference is in session:
- Greet the parents at the door to welcome them into “your turf.” Remember that it is very important to make them feel welcome and comfortable.
- Watch your body language. Research has shown that body language sometimes speaks louder than words. The non-verbal cues that you emit will often set the mood of the conference. You want the parent to realize that you are interested in their child and what they have to say about their child.
- Be specific in what you want to say to the parent. Do not flounder.
- Do not use educational jargon that the parent may not understand. Talk in layman’s terms. You want to ensure that they completely understand all that you say.
- Focus on the strengths of the student first. Parents want to hear good things about their child. Later, you may feel more comfortable addressing any areas where the student is having difficulty or creating problems. Check out this list of appropriate euphemisms to use to address any negative behaviors the student is having. Remember that it is always wise to focus on a solution to any problem rather than focusing on the problem itself. Discuss the problem. Ask the parents to give suggestions as to how the problem would be best served. You want to work together with the parents in the remediation of any problem.
- Help parents feel free to ask questions. Be prepared for possible questions the parents might ask such as “How is my child doing in school?”, “What are his or her grades?”, “How can I help him or her do better?” “Have you had any problems with his or her behavior? If so, what will you do to solve the problem and how can I help support you in this?”, or “What are your discipline procedures?”