Parent-Teacher Conferences An Opportunity For Teachers To Learn By Robert Bacal

Normally, we think of parent-teacher conferences as a chance for teachers to inform parents about how their children are progressing, and any issues that need addressing. That's ONE critical component of the parent-teacher meeting. In researching my book, Building Bridges Between Home And School, and talking to parents, one area parents highlighted as problematic was being "talked down" to, or lectured by teachers, and that there was a tendency for teachers to talk TO parents, rather than talk WITH parents. It's understandable for teachers, who may meet with many parents in a short time, to become "information givers".

Listening And Learning Also Important

Beyond the issue of parent dissatisfaction with being talked to, teachers may be missing out on important opportunities to gather information about each child, and his or her home life, and it's that information that can be essential to improve and customize the educational experience for each child. If you think of teaching as a kind of problem-solving, it's clear that in order to solve educational problems for a child, it's essential for a teacher to have as much information as possible, but even more importantly, that information needs to come from different sources.

It's not that parents know "more" about their children than do teachers, though they often will, but they know DIFFERENT things about their children than do their teachers. It's quite a different perspective, and a source for mining gold about how children can be best taught, and the learning better managed. Children tend to show different sides of their personalities, and their learning abilities in different environments, and while teachers spend a lot of time with children, they only see the child within one context. Parents bring a different experience from observing their kids in multiple non-school settings.

But You Have To Listen Intentionally

Parents will provide more information about their children, the more they talk, so it's essential that teachers try to balance off who does the talking in parent-teacher conferences. If you go in with the idea of telling parents, rather than listening, you can miss out on a lot of information about the child's home life, his or her study habits, interests, and a lot more. While it's always good to ask specific questions you feel you need answered, the real gold may lie in what you pick up in casual conversation, and comments the parents offer.

Remember that it's no the teacher that knows everything, and it's not the parent either, and it's not about who is right or wrong. It's about combining the collective knowledge of both to provide a clearer and more complete picture about how each child can best be taught.

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Techniques, methods to improve the prime touchpoint for communication between home and school, the parent-teacher conference. For teachers.

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