How to inform parents of issues at parent teacher interviews

June 12, 2012

Parent teacher interviews offer a great opportunity to build partnerships with your students’ parents. In particular mid-year interviews allow you opportunity to talk with parents about their child’s school progress and any issues the student is experiencing.

Planning for an interview with parents of a challenging student, or a student with recently discovered difficulties can provoke anxiety for some teachers. To reduce anxiety, and to help effectively communicate concerns about the student’s learning or behaviour, it is best to be prepared for the interview.  

The following are some tips to help teachers to prepare for a parent teacher interview.

  • Make notes for each child. It can be helpful to write notes on a page or index card for each student prior to the interview. This will help you remember the key points you wish to discuss and can enable you to move quickly from one interview to the next. 
  • Begin on a positive note. Thank parents for making the time to come in and tell them something positive about their child. This may help to ease the parent’s nerves too. It is important to remember that some parents have unpleasant memories of school, or may have participated in a number of meetings that focus on their child’s challenging behaviour. Focusing on the positive will help to reassure parents that you care about their child and value their time. 
  • Ensure you talk about more positives than negatives. Ensure negative points are balanced by positive points. If you have issues to raise related to learning or behaviour, limit the discussion to one or two that are of most concern.
  • Be proactive about the concerns. Have work samples, checklists and information sheets with you to illustrate the issue, and suggestions about what can be done to improve the situation. For each issue explain what you will do at school to support the child, and suggest a few strategies parents might like to use at home.
  • Offer parents a second meeting time if necessary. In interviews where concerns are discussed there is a tendency to go over time. Don’t let the meeting run late. If more needs to be said, schedule a second meeting. If you feel others need to be involved in the second meeting such as the Year Level Co-ordinator, Deputy or Assistant Principal, or School Psychologist inform the parents of this in the interview, and explain why.
  • Write notes on things that need to be followed up. Check you and the school have current contact details for the parents if you need to contact them after the interview. 

Want to know more about preparing for parent teacher interviews?  Click here.