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The first nine weeks of school have passed, and in our district, this marks the time when parents sit down at the Parent-Teacher Conference to talk about their child and progress in school. Other similar meetings can be had throughout the year on an as-needed basis.

I’ve had several parents talk to me about what they heard from the teacher. In most cases, I’m almost sure that the teacher had a different intended meaning, but I thought it was interesting to hear what the parents took away. Names are pseudonyms.

Teacher: Kate is always so quiet and never a problem in class. I wish I had twenty more just like her!
Parent: Because my child is quiet and somewhat shy, she fades into the woodwork of the classroom. Would the teacher know if Kate was having a problem?

Teacher: I’m sure you sit here every year and hear how great your child is.
Parent: I feel like I’m being put on the defensive about my child! You’re right, he is a great kid! Now tell me how you’re going to challenge him academically this year.

Teacher: If I sit right there with Adam, he gets it right. If I don’t, forget it!
Parent: Wow! It feels like you’re mad at him for needing the extra help. What are you really trying to tell me?

(This last scenario led to a long discussion between the parent and me about whether Adam might have ADHD, something this parent has wondered about in the past. After our talk, I directed this Dad to a section of our sister site, LDOnline’s ADHD Basics (opens in a new window).)

If you haven’t had your Parent-Teacher conference yet, or are planning to follow up with another meeting, here are some resources that might help:

For Parents
The Parent-Teacher Conference

Surviving the Difficult Parent-Teacher Conference

Parent-Teacher Communication Plan (opens in a new window)

For Teachers:
From TeacherVision, a wealth of Parent-Teacher Conference Resources (opens in a new window)

Building Parent-Teacher Relationships

Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences with Bilingual Families

Strong communication between home and school is an important piece of a child’s success in school. Subtle word choices or body language from either party can really change the intended message. I’d love to hear from some teachers: What did you hear parents say?

About the Author

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Publication Date
November 4, 2010