First, it is important to know that a lack of involvement does not necessarily mean they do not care; several other factors may be the cause. But two key ways to change this is by 1. creating an objective, where teachers, students, and parents work together to form a plan of action for improvement, and 2. changing the timing of the conferences. Set up meetings in the beginning of the year to set students up for success rather than waiting until they fall behind.
Put yourself in a parent's shoes for a moment, and realize all of the things that may be going through a parent's mind before a conference, including insecurities about their parenting style and their child's success. Do not blame the parent; work with him/her to assist their child. These tips for parents will help us as educators gear meetings to benefit the needs of children and help parents to feel at ease. Create a partnership, and stay positive.
Many resources are available here in order to help prepare both educators and parents for upcoming parent-teacher conferences. These resources will help teachers to focus on strengths of students rather than weaknesses, as well as understand any worries or questions parents may have when meeting with them.
Though we hope that all conferences run smoothly, that is unfortunately not always the case. Sometimes, parents will become defensive about their children, or taking criticism personally as if it reflects their parenting skills. It is important to be prepared for cases like this, and other issues that may arise. Resources for such instances can be found here.
Page 5 is a tip sheet for teachers on parent-teacher conferences, providing many ideas to utilize before conferences including preparing thoughts and materials, creating a welcoming environment, and sending out reminders. Once there, be sure to hold a two way conversation, listening to what he/she has to say, encourage a focus on learning, and providing both challenges and strengths that their children face and not only the issues they are having. Parents can also find useful tips here.
1. Teachers should have one goal in mind: to help students who are struggling in some way. 2. Establish a partnership from the first day of school, encouraging parents to come in and speak to you. Give out your email address, or send a note home, encouraging an open door policy. 3. Keep accurate records of a child's progress, to provide examples about the issues. It is your duty to voice any concerns prior to the end of a semester/marking period. No surprises should be left for the report card.