In about a couple of hours, I'll be off to Miro's third quarter Parent Teacher Conference. And I'm armed to the teeth!
Ok, that sounds ridiculous. What I really am is simply prepared.
(God, I'm such a nerd!)
Well, if this is your first time, then let me offer you my personal Preparation PTC rundown.
1. Beforehand, talk to your child. This meeting is all about him anyhow. So ask him if there is something he'd like you to discuss with his teacher. Oh, and don't judge his issues. Kids look at things differently than we do. A mole hill for you could be a mountainous problem for him. Respect that and take it seriously.
2. The PTC doesn't cover academic issues alone. Bring everything up including your child's personal concerns. Is your child being bullied? Has he been eating improperly in school? Has he been hating school for some reason that he won't tell you?
3. Jot down everything you want to put on the table. Don't be embarrassed to bring a notebook and a pen. I, for one, can be horribly forgetful. And it pisses me off when I remember one important thing I should've said when I'm already halfway home.
4. Start the PTC on a positive note. You're not there to wage war. You're there to understand how your child is doing, what's he going through, and to reach a moving forward plan. So be open-minded about it and for the love of God, don't be freakishly defensive.
5. Talk. This is why it's called a PARENT and TEACHER activity. It's an open PARENT and TEACHER discussion. So don't let the teacher just rattle off facts and opinions. You should have yours, too. Take turns, of course.
6. Don't get emotional. It's natural for the teacher to bring up your child's weaknesses other than his strengths. There are things your child can be in school that you never see at home. The PTC can be your eye-opener, your wake-up call.
7. Introduce helpful insights about your child. You know your child's habits and nuances better than anyone else. Bringing them up can help his teacher reach out to him more. And believe me, the teacher will like it better when you throw in suggestions on how to improve her connection with your child.
8. Don't be afraid to give suggestions. Like I said, it's an open discussion.
9. Don't be a jerk and not take suggestions. The teacher will tell you to do things that can help your child's development from home. Be open to that. You are your child's educator when he's not in school. And learning doesn't stop as soon as he's left the school building. It's an ongoing thing.
10. End the PTC with clear-cut solutions and directions. Don't leave without these. There has to be an agreement between you and the teacher on how to move forward in helping your child. You. School. Partners. Period.
11. Again, jot these down. Sure, you'll be given a copy of the teacher's report. But some points in the discussion don't usually make it on paper. Specially the solutions arrived at by you and the teacher. These notes are what you come back to come next quarter so make a checklist of to-dos and expectations, too.
12. When you're done, congratulate your child on a good turn-out as soon as you get home. And don't reprimand him for his shortcomings. Geez! You can mention them casually, like, "Hey, we need to work some more on your math, ok?" --and that doesn't mean that instant either. These are things you work out along the way.
One other crucial point to remember is that YOU can call for PTCs as well. It's not just a school-initiated event. If there's an important topic you need to discuss with the teacher, the program director, the guidance counselor, or even the school director, you CAN call for a meeting yourself and they'll be more than glad to accommodate you. Keep in mind that they're there to help your child succeed in his young life. You have the right to arrive to that general direction as much as they do.
Oh crap, look at the time! I'm off. Catch you later!
(ps. Dont' be late for a PTC)