Martine Guerrier is not your average mom. She's the New York City Department of Education's Chief Family Engagement Officer, aka "Chief Mom," and her job is to act as a liaison between schools and parents in the nation's largest school district. We asked her to share her expertise for a positive parent-teacher conference, and a successful parent-teacher relationship. Here's her advice.
Do your homework.
Of course parents love to talk about their kids. Teachers do, too. But because you won't have unlimited time during your scheduled conference, it's crucial to make the most of the minutes you have. Jot down a few key questions before the meeting to help you stay on track. Some topics to consider:
- What are your expectations for the class and specifically for my child?
- What is your assessment of my child's social and emotional development? Does she talk a lot? Does he socialize with his classmates? Does my child often play in a group or on his own?
- What are the grade-level milestones and specific skills that my son or daughter should have mastered already? What will he or she be expected to master over the course of the school year?
- What can I do at home to support your work in class?
Be patient (within reason).
If your child has a specific academic or behavioral problem, understand that the teacher will not necessarily be able to provide a resolution immediately. Teachers often work in a cross-disciplinary or collaborative way, and therefore must consult with colleagues before finalizing a plan of action. That said, if a reasonable amount of time passes and no improvements are being made, request a meeting with the principal.
Stay in touch.
After the conference, keep communicating with your child's teacher. You can build a strong and positive relationship when you have an open and honest discussion about the challenges of being a parent or teacher of a young learner. Share your observations, and give feedback about the ways you see your child progressing. If you have time, volunteer to help chaperone class trips or school events. I really recommend this! The extra opportunity for interaction will help you catch up on how your child is doing in school.