Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tips for Successful Conferences

From the Apple

When I think about conferences, I think of them as a teacher but I always try to put myself into my shoes as the parent and give to parents what I wanted from the teachers that my own children had. That helps me stay focused and patient and especially understanding.

Here are my down and dirty tips for a successful conference:

1. Remember that the parent has sent you their most precious gift. It's not like they are keeping all the good kids at home!

2. ALWAYS, open with a positive note. Be sincere. There really is something wonderful about every child!

3. If the parent asked for the conference let them talk. Let them get out whatever brought them to the conference. It won't matter what you say until they deal with whatever is bothering them.

4. Don't get defensive. Listen. Try to make sure you understand what they are saying by saying things like, "I think I hear you saying..."

5. Forget the education jargon. They don't need to be impressed with how smart you are. They need to understand what you are saying.

6. Develop a plan of action. Tell the parents specifically how you are going to address the problem.

7. Don't tell the parent what THEY need to do (unless they ask), but stress collaborating.

8. Let the parent know that you really care about their child. The child's progress is very important to you and you will leave no stone unturned to make sure that their child has the best education possible.

9. As the conference comes to an end, summarize what you and the parent have agreed to do.

10. End of a positive note.

I think you get better at conferences with experience. You begin to look forward to this dialog with parents so that together you can help the child move forward. That nervousness and feeling of dread leaves and is replaced by a very satisfying feeling. Good luck, Star. Your adventure has just begun!

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