It’s that time of year – parent-teacher interview time. This can be a demanding time for teachers. By following these quick tips below, you’ll notice how you feel more relaxed and increasingly competent with your next round of parent-teacher conferences.
Follow these tips for what you can do before, during and after your parent teacher interviews to feel effective and to be effective. This week I will share the first 6 tips [Part 1] and next week will be the final 5 tips [Part 2].
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
1. Think about it from the parents’ perspective.
In my experience, I have found that parents are often more nervous about the interview than you are. It can be pretty intimidating for a parent to have a formal face-to-face meeting with their child’s teacher. Remind yourself that they are a person just like you.
2. Anticipate questions parents might ask.
I am surprised at how many teachers do not prepare mentally for a parent-teacher conference. Make the time to think about what a parent might want to know. On my blog check out my post – “Questions To Think About Before Your Next Parent-Teacher Interview” – this will really help you.
3. Plan your physical environment
Think about the layout of the physical space where your interview will be conducted. Where will you sit? Where will the parent/s sit? If you teach a younger grade, please don’t make your parents sit on little chairs! Find some adult size chairs and place them accordingly. I recommend that you do not sit behind your big teacher’s desk to conduct a parent-teacher conference. This makes rapport and connection much harder and limits the communication space.
How your room/space looks is really important. Is it clean and tidy? Are things well organised? What will the parents be looking at over your shoulder whilst the interview is progressing? Remember, everything about you says something about you. The physical layout and ‘feel’ of your room/space/office is crucial in conducting effective parent-teacher conferences.
4. Complete your interview proforma
For every single parent-teaching meeting that I have had, I always take a few moments to prepare – to write down some thoughts and notes that will help me to be most effective during the interview. I’ve developed a very helpful ‘Interview Proforma’ which I have found SO helpful in facilitating effective meetings with parents. It is truly a lifesaver. If you’d like a copy of this, just click the download button below.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
5. Be friendly and welcoming
I am amazed at how many teachers don’t think about the first 60 seconds of their meeting with parents. I am also amazed at how many teachers don’t say a genuine ‘hello’ or ‘how are you’. The first 60 seconds counts. Here’s all you need to do: be friendly and welcoming! Smile! Make the parents feel at home! Ask them how their day has been. Thank them for their time. (Yes, they are giving up their time just as much as you are). Be genuine and authentic, and remember to smile!
6. Use the Feedback Sandwich
Sometimes you may need to raise a tricky issue about the student’s behaviour/work ethic/etc. I always use the ‘Feedback Sandwich’ – using the analogy of a sandwich with 2 pieces of bread and filling in between. Simply put, you start with the bread – something positive and encouraging; then you put in the filling – the student’s behaviour that you need to address; followed by another piece of bread – something positive and encouraging. This is a great little strategy to help you talk through any tricky issues about the student.
>> So there’s the first 6 tips for effective parent-teacher interviews. Stay tuned for the final 5 tips (totalling 11) to have amazing meetings with your students’ parents. I’ll continue with a couple more tips for DURING the interview, followed by what to do AFTER the interview to really have an impact.
Enjoy the journey,
And more importantly,
Enjoy the moments.