Prepare for the conference in advance. Give the parent some idea of the topics to be discussed. If the parent(s) requests the conference, do not assume what their concerns are–ask. Allow enough time for the conference. Be sure the building administration knows the conference is being held. Avoid becoming defensive when parents question your judgment. Answer questions and offer suggestions for improvement. When talking to parents, stay calm, speak slowly, and do not become defensive or angry. Convey to the parent(s) that both you and the parents want the same thing–how to best help the child. Listen to everything the parents are saying. Avoid overwhelming them with irrelevant materials or by using jargon. Try not to overwhelm them with the presence of other school personnel unless they are needed. Avoid physical barriers. Do not sit behind a desk. Address the parent(s) by name and maintain eye contact. State the problem in specific terms, ask for their help, and let them know the consequences. For example, “If Johnny does not do his homework, he will fail. He and I need your help to ensure that this does not happen.” Offer the parents ideas on how they might help. Summarize the conversation at the end and reiterate what you and the parent have agreed to do. If possible, end the conversation on a positive note. Follow up the conversation with a note.

If The Conference Becomes Hostile

If threatened, ask for an end to the meeting. If the principal is not present, ask that the meeting be moved to his or her office. Remember, you can always ask for a break if one is needed–you might even need to go to the restroom. Remember: stay calm; speak slowly; keep it short; do not become defensive or angry. If the parent makes complaints, ask him/her to write them down. State that you will respond also in writing.    Do not get up and walk out of the conference unless you have been given permission by the principal.