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Ways to ensure productive teacher meetings

That beginning-of-the-year conference can set the stage for a positive parent-teacher learning partnership and help to set your child up for academic success.

We asked Kelly Nalley, an instructional coach at Bell’s Crossing Elementary, for some tips to ensure that you are beginning the year on the right foot.

Make the conference a priority. “Your kids will see that education and school are important,” Nalley said. “The first conference also gives the teacher a chance to share some positive things about your child.”

Let the teacher lead the conference, but be prepared to ask questions.“Ask how you can partner to meet academic goals and expectations,” she said.

Don’t limit the conversation to academics. “Remember that learning occurs in a community,” she said. “Ask how they are adapting to the social culture and how they are getting along with other kids.”

It’s OK if you don’t know the lingo. “We try not to use educational jargon, but it does sometimes happen,” she said. “If you don’t understand an assessment, ask for clarification.”

Give the teacher a clear picture of your child. “If there is an area where your child struggles, or an area where they are particularly gifted, there are things that we can do to meet those needs,” Nalley said. “Sometimes, parents withhold information because they are afraid of stigmatizing the child, but if teachers know where there are issues,we are better able to adjust and monitor.”

Keep the lines of communication open, even after the conference. “Don’t just send an email when there is a problem,” she said. “Send a note when things are going well.”

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