Whether you are a parent with some questions about your child’s achievement in school or an educator who wants to promote more academic help at home, parent-teacher conferences can be a slippery slope to navigate. Even under the best of circumstances, conferences can either go very pleasantly or be a source of extreme frustration.
With this school year being quite different from anything that most have encountered in the past because of COVID restrictions, most parent-teacher conferences are happening through video conferencing apps. It is an exciting time we live in. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your video conference.
Approach It with a Plan
As an educator with more than a decade of experience, I have encountered all types of situations in conferences. Any conference can get derailed if not adequately prepared. The key is to have an itinerary for the conference regardless if you are a parent or a teacher. Present it just like a regular meeting that you may have at work in a professional setting with an outline of what is to be covered. Having the itinerary to be discussed on a piece of paper can guide the conference along on time.
Have a Time Limit in Place
Teachers are to have a conference with all parents of their students. Parents are to have a dialogue with all of the teachers that work with their kids. This can be very time-consuming. For the benefit of all, a time limit should be put in place for the video conference. This way, once an item is addressed, move to the next point on the itinerary. Ten minutes should be long enough for any conference. If it lasts longer than that, then someone is getting a bit long-winded and needs to take some time management classes.
As an example, I once worked with a teacher that would schedule each conference for ten minutes, and all of them ended up lasting 30 minutes or more because she didn’t have any summarization skills herself and loved the sound of her voice. At the end of the day, a more extended conference does not equal a better discussion.
Remove Any Distractions
Video conferences can present a myriad of distractions. Try to eliminate all of the ones you can before the meeting begins. For instance, take the conference call in a quiet room, not in the kitchen as kids and spouses go back and forth in the background. Have proper lighting as talking to a dark screen can be a bit awkward. Finally, make sure your internet is up to the task. If that requires nobody else using the internet in the household for 15 minutes, then so be it.
Mix in the Positives and the Negatives
Nobody wants to hear only the negatives about themselves or their kids. It is essential for communication purposes to include positive comments as well. If there are only negative comments, people will tune you out rather quickly.
Keep an Open Mind
Do not disregard opinions or viewpoints as the student may act differently around others. After all, adults aren’t the same person around everyone either. If a parent or educator brings up a concern, then listen to it.
It would be best if you remembered that parents and teachers both have the common goal of assisting them in being productive members of society both academically and behaviorally. If a child is well-rounded and can be responsible for grades and social interaction, they can go far in life.
Discuss Social and Emotional Learning
In a world where social and emotional learning is in dire need at the moment, this should be a focus both at home and at school. Ask one another how this goal of educating students about proper behavior, managing emotions, establishing positive relationships, and having empathy and sympathy for others is being met.
Do not just present a problem at a conference without also delivering some solution. For instance, if a student is having trouble with organization and time management, iAchieve offers Academic Coaching for kids. If they struggle with basic math skills, find a few apps that they can use during their free moments to strengthen their math ability. Brainstorm with one another during the conference. Don’t look at one another as an obstacle, but rather a partner trying to find an answer.
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