Parent Teacher Conference Tips

In preparation for the twice-yearly parent-teacher conferences, you may find it helpful to review the following information and tips.

Why Go to a Parent-Teacher Conference?

  • To show teachers you care and are involved in your student’s education
  • To get new or more information about your student’s abilities and challenges.
  • To see your student through his or her teachers’ eyes.
  • To get a better read on how your student is doing since conferences come after the ambiguous “U”, “S”, “E” grades.
  • To show your student that you are truly invested in their education, that you’re investing your own time because it means that much to you.
  • To engage with your student and to know the teacher(s) your student is talking about
  • If your student has complaints about a teacher, meeting the teacher allows you to make your own assessment so you can support and/or advocate for your student if necessary.

What to Expect

  • Teachers will be assigned to particular rooms. A room list will be available online and will be distributed at the event as well.
  • Arista students and Big Sibs will be stationed at each room with a sign-up sheet.
  • Parents will need to sign up for a time slot at each room for the teachers they wish to see—usually the student volunteers will be able to let you know how many sign-ups are ahead of you.
  • The event will be very crowded and halls filled with parents rushing to sign up—be ready for this.
  • Chinese translators are available. College and graduate students volunteer to walk around the building with parents who need help communicating with teachers.
  • Students are sometimes welcome. Some teachers seem to prefer them coming, others don’t, so it’s definitely optional
  • Your goal will be to sign up for the teachers in an order that will allow you to able to meet with as many as possible.
  • Various student organizations will be selling baked goods and treats to raise money for their groups. Bring some cash to support these hardworking students!

Advice and Recommendations

Set Realistic Expectations:

  • Remember, you will have 3 minutes with each teacher. You will see them, hear them speak, and get a general impression of how they feel your student is doing in class. Sometimes this only takes one minute!
  • If you have specific questions for any of your student’s teachers, come prepared with questions.
  • If you have a bigger issue to discuss, this is not the time or place to do it, use your three minutes to schedule a time to meet with them for 15 minutes on another day.
  • Please don’t expect or ask teachers to take more than three minutes with you! It’s unfair to the teachers and it’s unfair to all the other parents who are waiting

Practical Tips:

  • Print out the room assignments ahead of time and identify which teachers you’re going to meet with.
  • Prioritize! Start with those classes where you really need to communicate with the teacher—if your student is doing very well in a class, consider skipping that teacher.
  • Starting from the bottom up or top down, move quickly to your first choice rooms and begin signing up. You may want to start on the highest floor so you can move down to lower floors quickly.
  • Put your name down on more than one different list and note which is coming up soonest. Sometimes you’re able to meet with the first teacher or two right away if you get there right at the beginning.
  • Keep checking back with classes and signing up for more classes.
  • You will be crossed off the list if you miss your turn and you will have to put your name down on the bottom of the list again. Or, it may be that you sign up for a slot and are trying to fit other visits in, you might be bumped from a slot if other parent sign-ups do not show up, and you will have to sign up again. Please be patient while navigating these challenges. The teachers and student volunteers are doing their best, they will try to keep to the correct schedule but these things do happen.
  • Be sure to bring a copy of your student’s schedule with you. It may also be helpful to bring a photo of your student with you. Assisting the teacher to immediately recognize your student will save time for more important conversations. If you print out your student’s schedule from Parent Tools, you can use the photo that is featured on that page.
  • Don’t count on the elevators, use the stairs and escalators. Wear comfortable shoes and expect to get some exercise.
  • If possible, divide your visits between the two days or have more than one parent attend. That can take some pressure off.