Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to build a partnership with your child’s teacher. Open and honest conversations can help you and the teacher connect what’s happening at school with what’s happening at home.
You and your child’s teacher may have a lot of topics you want to cover. But time may be limited. Or you may feel unsure about what to bring up — or not bring up — in this meeting.
We asked the Understood Teacher Fellows what they wish parents would ask and share in parent-teacher conferences. Some of these teachers are parents or caregivers of kids who learn and think differently too, so they’ve been in your shoes.
A few themes emerged from their advice: sharing what’s working (and not working) for your child, being open about your child’s likes and dislikes, and asking about ways you can work together.
“I’d like families to share any new insights they’ve gathered about their child from the time spent at home during distance learning. Did they notice their child’s strengths? Did they notice something their child needs more support with?” — Lauren Jewett, third- and fourth-grade special education teacher
“It’s best to provide the teacher with a vision of what life looks like at home, so they can understand the frustrations you may be experiencing as a parent. Teachers may see a very different child in the classroom than you see at home.” — Michelle Capriotti, high school special education teacher
“Come prepared to share what works for you and your child at home. Parents and teachers are partners, and I love to reinforce systems they have at home. I also have parents reinforce systems I use in school. Kids respond well when parents and teachers use the same language, incentives, and organization.” — Pauli Evanson, second-grade special education teacher
“As a teacher, I always want parents to give me honest feedback about the child’s perception of their school experience. It opens the door to have authentic discussions about progress socially, emotionally, and academically.” — Ashlee Upp, third-grade general education teacher
“Remember to share your students’ exciting celebrations. It makes a world of difference when parents share something they notice that is working well for their student and celebrate it along with the teacher.” — Jonathan Juravich, visual arts teacher
“I wish parents asked teachers, ‘What is something that I can do at home to reinforce what my child is learning in class socially and academically?’” — Shaquala Butler, fourth-grade general education teacher
“I wish parents would ask, ‘What can the school do to support my child and the family? Are there intervention programs to support my child? If not, why?’” — Christina Armas, kindergarten and first-grade English as a New Language teacher
“I wish families would ask, ’What can you and I do to strengthen our relationship so that your classroom and our home is a stronger community?’” — Kareem Neal, high school special education teacher
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About the author
The Understood Team is made up of passionate writers and editors. Many of them have kids who learn and think differently.