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What specific questions should I ask during parent-teacher conferences?
To get the most from a conference, you need to arrive on time or, better, at least five minutes before the scheduled time. If you and the teacher often get sidetracked so you don’t get the information you need, plan to mainly listen without making too many comments. Then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Teachers generally control the agenda of a conference. They will typically give you answers to the following questions.
If they don’t, you will want to ask them.
- What performance level is my child working at in basic content areas?
- Is my child working to his or her full academic potential?
- What do you see as my child’s educational strengths and weaknesses?
- Does my child need special help to succeed in the classroom? Can the school provide this help?
- Do you have any achievement, intelligence, or aptitude test scores for my child?
- Is my child’s behavior in the classroom satisfactory? If not, what needs to be improved?
- What can I do at home to support my child’s learning?
- Do you see any academic or behavior problems we need to discuss further?
You want to walk away knowing how your child is performing in class and if there are any problems that need to be addressed. If there is a need for a more lengthy conference, you should try to schedule one at this time.
You also need to know how the teacher wishes to be contacted when you have any future questions. If there is time in the typical 15- to 20-minute conference, you may also find out about your child’s participation in class discussions, the standardized tests to be given during the school year, and the time that should be spent on homework.
Remember, you will be working with this teacher all year. Be supportive and appreciative of all the hard work each teacher puts in daily and let the teacher know you want to do what is necessary to help your child succeed in school.
How to Respond to Bullying
The teachers at our middle school do not often see children being bullied, but my children do, especially in the hallways and restrooms. How should they respond?
Bring this up at a parent/teacher meeting and suggest having more classroom discussions on how children should respond if they see a classmate being bullied. Here are some suggestions that you can share with your own children:
- Immediately find a teacher or adult to intervene.
- Report the bullying incident to a teacher or principal.
- Refuse to support bullying behavior by laughing or joining in.
- Provide support to the victim after the bullying incident by using kind words.
- Attempt to stop the bullying alone or with friends, if this is realistic.
- Express disapproval of the bullying to the bully. (The more kids who do this, the more effective this approach will be.)
- Prevent future bullying by having friends accompany the child who is being bullied in the hallways and restrooms.
Parents should send questions and comments to email@example.com or ask them on the columnists’ website at dearteacher.com.