Top 5 Questions to Ask at Parent Teacher Conference

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Many schools are wrapping up the first quarter of the school year. Students have been in school for 9 weeks. There have been homework assignments, tests, quizzes, and projects. For many this is the first opportunity for parents to have a chance to talk to their student’s teacher(s). Parent Teacher Conferences are important because students do better in school when their parents are involved. One of the most critical relationships is that between parent, teacher, and student. It is very important for parents to attend these conferences especially in the beginning of the year. By attending in the beginning of the year they are able to intervene quickly if their student is struggling. While it’s great to meet with your child’s teacher, parents must also be equipped with the right questions to ask.

Here are 5 questions for parents to ask during a parent-teacher conference:

1. Where do you feel my child needs to improve the most? 

This is a great conversation starter for the parent. This sets the tone that you are focused on how your child can improve. Parents need to know that the teacher sees your child differently and they can see things that as a parent you may not see. An important thing to remember is you must be ready for the response, listen, and have an open mind. Do not try and argue the response, but ask what you can do to help with any improvement.

2. Is my student performing at grade level? 

This is a great academic question. Parents should be prepared to discuss and hear observation and feedback from the teacher about their students work. Parents should see this work and immediately ask does this mean their student is on grade level with state standards. Parents must remember this isn’t about comparing their child to other children in the room, but more about how they compare to where they should be.

3. What is my student’s biggest strength?

After asking two question that may or may not be positive it is important to ask a question that will promote a positive conversation about your child. It is good to hear what it is your child is doing to that is impressive to the teacher. This is also a great question for parents to ask to see if their student’s teacher can identify the positive qualities that your student has. It is easy to see where your student is struggling, but it is impressive if they can articulate the positive attributes you student possesses.

4. Can I take a moment to address a concern from my child?

With almost 9 weeks of school, I am sure your student has come home with some complaints or concerns. Through those complaints and concerns, it would be a good time during the parent-teacher conference to address any that you may have wanted more information about. Let the teacher know that you are just trying to get more clarification because your child came home and seemed bothered about this.

5. What can we do to support our student?

This question is about setting the expectation that you are in this to be a partner in your child’s education. Asking this question the teacher can provide you with things to do at home to ensure your child can get all the support they need.

 

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David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.