I started reflecting the day after I completed sixteen parent/teacher conferences within the span of a few short hours. I heard a number of other people talking about their conferences the following day. I heard negative stories, stress, and conflict. Parent meetings should never sound this way. I know there are times when it is simply unavoidable, but there was just not the positivity that I was hoping to see.
While conference nights are long, tiring, and seriously rushed, they are also (for me) a lot of fun. I get to spend the night talking about how great kids are in the class. Always take that perspective.
It isn’t that I have a class full of perfect kids, in fact they are all wonderfully imperfect. (A perfect kid would be boring to teach!). Instead I choose to focus on the positive. I don’t skip the struggles, but I talk about them as opportunity, about how I see the potential for growth if we build on x, y, or z. I talk to them about the positive attributes I see in their child. I focus on it with intensity.
When this happens, those parents that come in saying, “Oh god what is my kid doing in here” leave laughing or smiling. They feel good about their child and about school. They are informed about their child’s education, but they don’t have a feeling of dread or conflict.
How do you want the parents in your classroom to feel when they leave? Treat conferences as a chance to build upon the positive school experience that you are trying to build for their kids. When your focus is positive, parents bring that positive attitude home with them and it transfers to kids!