Many parents feel uncomfortable when talking to teachers. Hey, guess what? Many teachers also feel nervous talking to you too! Here are some ways to help improve parent – teacher meetings so everyone is more comfortable! 1. Start the Year Right Take the initiative and make an appointment for a little “meet and greet” with your child’s new teacher at the start of the year. This short, five minute meeting sets the tone and helps build a good relationship. Your child will know you care about their life at school, and teachers will know you are an engaged and supportive parent. Teachers – send a little personal note home. Even an email is better than nothing. Let’s start connecting! 2. Make Your Own Appointment To Talk The ten minute time slot on interview nights are simply too short and rushed. It’s a cattle call, a report card puppy mill. Why not just set up your own appointment to meet on another evening? Every teacher I have ever know has been amendable to meeting with parents whenever the parents request. Don’t feel you have to only meet on interview night. Frankly, that is the WORST meeting format if there really is something to talk about seriously. 3. Don’t Talk At The Door Don’t think you can just steal a moment with the teacher during drop off or pick up. Teachers are busy and will likely feel hijacked and unprepared to listen and respond effectively. If the nature of the meeting is urgent, you can request a time to talk after dismissal. This assures people’s full attention and more privacy. 4. Set an agenda. Okay, maybe you don’t have to be that formal, but the idea is that you want both parties to know what the talk is about so everyone can be prepared. If one party is not informed, it’s more likely to turn sour. 5. Bring the pupil Students should attend parent-teacher meetings. They need to be apprized of how things are going, and without their attendance they are apt to feel its two against one and people are plotting behind their backs. I suggest older students establish the agenda and chair the meeting. The more children feel a sense of ownership over their learning the better they will do! 6. Sample Meeting Agenda a. Start with identifying and appreciating positives and strength. What’s working? What’s been good? Everyone needs to be encouraged. You can only build on strengths. Learn to look for them. b. Discuss areas that need improvement / clarification / problem solving or strategies. Keep it solution focused. Don’t re-hash the past to find fault. Focus on how to do things better in the future. c. Use consensus to decide on a specific plan of action for everyone to try for a period of time (week / month). Schedule a follow up meeting so all parties know you’ll be following up and doing a progress report of change. 7. If things don’t improve, increase the frequency the of the meetings so you can keep tweaking strategies until you discover a winner. Working together and seeing issues as problems in need of a solution will keep you on track for a great school year!