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Conference with a Purpose: Establish Clear Expectations and Objectives By Latasha Schraeder

October is a pivotal month in the academic year. Typically, this is the time when the first parent-teacher conference is scheduled. Be sure to use this time wisely. This meeting is an opportunity for you to maintain open communication with teachers, discuss any concerns you may have about how the school year is progressing, and set common academic and behavioral expectations between yourself and your student’s teachers. Do not squander this opportunity to reexamine expectations set in August, check progress on academic and behavior goals set at the start of the year. Most importantly, don’t leave the conference with uncertainty. Be certain everyone: student, parent, and teachers are working toward the same goals. Setting clear expectations will permit all stakeholders to collaborate meaningfully with clear objectives to work toward.

I recommend you attend parent-teacher conferences prepared. Arrive with questions and concerns noted in an organized manner to use the short time you have with teachers as efficiently as possible. In fact, you can e-mail your concerns and questions in advance to allow for more time to discuss any issues during the conference. Also, be ready to share suggestions and strategies with teachers about how he or she can best make connections with your child during the school day.

The first report card, often shared during the conference, is a tool that can be used to assess if academic and behavioral expectations are being met. If academic expectations are being met, celebrate! Now is a good time to discuss how the curriculum can be enriched. If academic expectations are not being met, talk about what additional supports are available and which are appropriate for your child. If behavior expectations are being met, applaud your child’s efforts. If behavior expectations are not being met, try to identify what it is that is causing misbehavior? Is the academic rigor too difficult? Is the misbehavior due to attention seeking? Whatever the cause, now is the time to put supports in place to increase the chance for both academic and social growth.

Be your child’s fiercest advocate.