Before the Conference

  • Review school policies about conferences. 
  • Try to determine the responsible adults in your student’s life, and check student records for information about court orders or family arrangements. 
  • Invite both parents or guardians to attend conferences when possible. Misunderstandings are less common if all responsible adults are present. If your school requires or encourages student participation in parent conferences, encourage parents to bring their child.
  • Provide translators if parents or students are not comfortable with English.
  • Plan ahead. Have in mind a general, but flexible, outline of what you’re going to say, including an explanation of the purpose of conferences, a record of student progress, a review of strengths and needs, and a proposed plan of action. If your school requires or encourages students to present their work, begin with the presentation. Have all materials organized.
  • Make sure you are calm, collected, and prepared before any type of parent contact. Consider practicing your message with a colleague, especially if you anticipate some potential conflict in the situation. Focus on what you want to come out of this conference. You may wish to consult with the guidance counselors for help and advice. 
  • Schedule plenty of time for the meeting if you can. If you’re scheduling back-to-back conferences try to allow enough time between them so that you can make notes on the previous conference and prepare for the upcoming one.
  • Be ready for questions such as:
    • What is my child’s ability level?
    • Is my child working up to his or her ability level?
    • How is my child doing in specific subjects?
  • Avoid physical barriers. Arrange conference-style seating, if possible, so that you’ll all feel equal. If a parent or student has disabilities, make accommodations by moving to a more accessible location or providing interpreters.