5 Steps for Conducting Successful Parent-Teacher Conferences

Parent-teacher conferences are held both for discussing students’ academic progress, and for building and strengthening parent-teacher partnership to achieve academic goals. Here are 5 steps that teachers can follow to execute smooth and productive parent-teacher conferences, whether in-person or on Zoom:

Communicate with Parents: Ideally, teachers and parents should communicate on an on-going basis. There can also be structured conferences with parents serving as a brainstorming session for finding solutions to improve their student’s academic learning. Here is a  free downloadable template that you might use to help consider and note goals, questions, concerns and plans for the discussion, next steps and follow up. 

Present Evidence: Teachers can create portfolios for each student show casing academic progress, achievements, and areas that could use some further development. At conferences, these portfolios can help parents gain a clearer picture about their child’s academic progress.

Be Purposeful but Flexible: Sometimes, the discussion may move away from the student or fixate on a particular point. Teachers can try to avoid this roadblock by forming an agenda for the conference, listing the points that need to be discussed. A copy of the agenda can be shared with parents either before or during the conference and it can help teachers direct parents’ attention back to the necessary points.

When scheduling conference timing, teachers can also plan additional time for miscellaneous topics, or for parents to ask questions or voice concerns. If needed, teachers can schedule an additional meeting to discuss these issues.

Be Positive: Remember to start and end the conference on a positive note. Highlight achievements and progress before discussing the areas that require improvements. Teachers can collaborate with parents and find suitable solutions to help the students with their problems. End the meeting on a positive note and with next steps planned, as this can give parents an assist in any working they may be doing with their child at home. 

Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Avoid talking about other teachers. If parents have concerns about another teacher, suggest that the parents discuss them with that teacher or staff member.
  • Practice good communication and listening skills such as being attentive, allowing parents to talk without interruptions and maintaining appropriate eye contact.
  • If parents do not speak the same language as the teacher, request a translator so that the meeting can still be held productively.

These steps can help teachers conduct conferences that are both successful and productive for improving student learning.

Learn more about teacher/parent communication in the online PD course: Partnering with Parents.

May 2021 Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

About the Author
Ellen Paxton is a respected expert in education and best known as the Chief Learning Officer of Professional Learning Board. As a two-time National Board Certified Teacher, Ellen has successfully published and customized online professional development courses and Learning Management Systems for 20 years to help teachers meet their state continuing education renewal credit requirements. Through ProfessionalLearningBoard.comRenewaTeachingLicense.com, and ConnectedPD.com, Ellen has established solutions and maintained partnerships with several accredited universities, higher education institutions, teachers’ unions and state Departments of Education while setting strategic direction that makes a difference and overseeing implementation of popular online PD for schools.