Tips for Successful Teacher Conferences

Imagine receiving your daughter’s midterm report complete with impeccable grades, only to realize that there’s a note attached to the bottom from her teacher telling you that your always well-behaved, rule-following, never-been-in-trouble child is suddenly talking too much in class (not that she’s that well-behaved or out of trouble at home or anything…). Suddenly, your worst fears are realized. Your smart, sweet, well-behaved child is a menace (at least that’s what you think). Perhaps you jump to conclusions like my husband and I did when our kindergartener brought this home earlier in the week.

Is she spending time with bad influences? Have you done something wrong? Is she upset about something at home and taking it out on her behavior at school? You fail to realize that she’s not actually performing poorly or behaving horribly, she’s suddenly just talking too much in class and the teacher is letting you know. You schedule a conference. However, there are a few things you need to do if you want your conference to go well.

Don’t Make Assumptions

My assumption was naturally to assume that my bed rest in the last few weeks of my twin pregnancy is to blame. She’s not getting enough attention at home and she’s acting out at school. Either that or someone is bullying her or she’s going through some sort of horrible phase or, I know, it’s her new seating arrangement. She’s sitting next to talkers and they’re corrupting our sweet little girl. It’s easy to make assumptions; but you’re probably wrong.

Ask Your Child What’s Going On

Believe it or not, your child can tell you exactly what’s going on and it makes things far easier to understand. Once I’d calmed down and stopped blaming myself for something horrible that wasn’t actually to blame, I asked my daughter why she’s suddenly talking in class. Her response? She’s bored. She reads and writes well above the kindergarten level (chapter books…says this proud, book-loving mommy). The bulk of her class, however, doesn’t. She’s bored reading and writing sentences such as, “Sam sees the cat,”. It doesn’t challenge her and she’s bored. So she talks to her friends.

Listen to the Teacher

Finally, listen to your child’s teacher. When you go in for your conference, take an open mind and listen. You might think you know what’s going on, but you need to hear her teacher first and foremost. She’s the one in the room with your child day in a day out and she might have a different perspective. Or, she might just validate your suspicions and provide you with an opportunity to work together to figure out how to solve the problem.

Teachers have a tough job, and parents make that job tougher by making assumptions, not listening and going into conferences and discussions with a defensive attitude. Your child might not always be wrong, but she might not always be right, either. Just keep that in mind.

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