Let’s Talk Parent-Teacher Conferences

Let’s talk about parent-teacher conferences as a tool to build relationships with students and their families. The research is clear: humans are literally “hard-wired” with the desire and need to connect. We are social beings who thrive on healthy relationships. Therefore, the importance of positive relationships in our roles as educators should never be overlooked.

Building great relationships with each of your students can have a positive effect on the way you engage in meaningful conversations with their parents and family members.  The more you know about individual students’ levels of academic performance and disciplinary difficulties, the more articulate you can be when you work to develop a collaborative plan of support during parent-teacher conferencing conversations.  Over the course of a year, Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering (2003) found that teachers who had developed high-quality relationships with students had 31% fewer discipline and other related difficulties than those who had not. And, as you know… when classroom discipline difficulties are reduced, learning improves!

So, how can we establish these bonds? Here are a few ideas from Nancy Barile, award-winning teacher, and author of The Hey Teach Article, 6 Easy Ways to Build Relationships with Your Students

Look for Something to Comment On. … 

Develop an Interest in Their Interests. … 

Share Your Stories. … 

Have a Sense of Humor. … 

Attend Student Events.

Sharing what you have learned from these great teacher-student relationship-building ideas, can be advantageous to build trust with your students’ families as you share school-related successes and challenges.  . Did you know that research shows that strong family involvement increases student achievement? By having more contact with families, teachers can learn more about students’ needs and home environments.  Having this information enhances the ability to better meet those needs. Family members who are involved tend to have a more positive view of teachers, which results in a collaborative effort to support student success. Effective parent-teacher conferences can increase family involvement in your classroom and assist you, your children, and your school in achieving positive student learning outcomes.  Family members who prioritize these events tend to have a more positive view of teachers.  In February of 2021, Teach.com published an article entitled How to Make the Most of Parent-Teacher ConferencesThe author emphasizes that preparation is the key to successful parent-teacher conferences. To support this idea, a preparation “To-Do List” for teachers is provided and includes the following:  

 Spend 1-On-1 Time with a Student. … 

  1. Set the agenda. Send a list of discussion topics in advance to parents.
  2. Be prepared. Do your homework and know everything you can about the child.
  3. Be welcoming. Sit at a table with parents so that you are meeting as equals.
  4. Maintain the three Ps. Be polite, positive, and professional to set the meeting’s tone.
  5. Identify what is expected. Work together to set common goals for the student.
  6. Listen to the parents. Focus on responses and be ready to follow up. 
  7. Plan regular updates. Schedule regular feedback on the student’s progress.
  8. Set a time limit. Prevent getting stuck in an unproductive cycle of discussion.

Your North Carolina New Teacher Support Coaches are committed to helping you plan, prepare, and reflect upon your first experience with conferencing.  We want each of you to know that you have us in your corner to cheer you along the journey to success.  The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program believes that  “No Significant Learning Occurs Without A Significant Relationship!  –Dr. James Comer


Jami Graham, UNCP

Photo Credit: Old Main STREAM Academy Charter School, Pembroke, NC

Posted in