Parent-Teacher Conference Ideas for International School Teachers

Having completed my Hong Kong school’s annual Parent Teacher conferences, it is time to reflect and celebrate. After twenty-three years of teaching, I find that I still get butterflies. Below are some thoughts about how I approach each individual Parent-Teacher Conference. If you are a new teacher or new to the international school scene, I hope this helps.

My administrator asks each teacher to focus on emotional, social, academic growth. I do this by inquiring what changes they have seen in the child in these areas. Specifically, I ask parents:

  • “Which kids in the classroom does your child consider to be friends?”
  • “How does your kid feel about school this year?”
  • “What changes in study habits have you seen this year?”
  • “What do I need to know about your kid?”
  • “What would you like me to do for your kid?
  • How has your child handled the move to Hong Kong?
  • How has your child adjusted to the classroom?

Few challenge this approach and I find that even fewer parents are hesitant to speak about their kids. This helps gets the conference started in a positive direction. It also, signals to the parents that I consider their partnership to be a priority.

I rarely set any predetermined goals for any of my students. Rather, I set goals with the parents while in the midst of the discussion. This tends to be more authentic and allows the parents to directly impact their child’s education.  I notate all agreements immediately after our talk and act on our shared plans as soon as possible.

I intentionally keep student work nearby but do not let it become a focal point of the discussions. The work is important and should be presented. However, I have found that it is easy to get bogged down on minutia when I rely too much on kid’s work.  Rather, I keep the conversation flowing by talking about the curriculum and the student’s positive reaction from my teaching.

I offer advice but I always ask before doing so. I have no kids of my own so I tend to stay away from trying to give advice to parents. Conversely, I view that it is my duty to support and to affirm their good work.

I give a “temperature check” of the parents’ emotional state as they enter the room. I sit in a comfortable chair and position myself at a slant in order to be as non-confrontational as possible. As parents leave, I bow, shake hands or give a hug depending on the situation. I always say thank you and plea for the parents to keep me updated on any pending changes or transitions that I would need to know.

Finally, below are tips that I have found to be useful:

  • Offer professional books to read.
  • Acknowledge the difficulties of living overseas.
  • Provide evidence of learning.
  • Stay balanced and fresh. No blogging, paying bills, or vacation planning.
  • “It is not about you.”
  • Be punctual.
  • You are an ambassador of your school, you are a professional, be true to your school’s mission.
  • Be quick to forgive.
  • Be reassuring.
  • Do not recommend outside tutoring ever.
  • Be realistic.
  • Brush your teeth after lunch.
  • Have a blast and appreciate the moment.

One thought on “Parent-Teacher Conference Ideas for International School Teachers

  1. When I first started doing parent-teacher conferences, I felt like I needed piles of evidence to show parents.

    The longer I teach, the more I find that conferences should be more about conversation than reporting. I only have 20 minutes with the parents, so I want to make sure the conference highlights student strengths (from both our perspectives) and identifies areas for growth.

    On another train of thought…It’s great to start report cards directly after parent conferences. You can write about the child’s Habits of Mind and Habits of Character while it is still fresh in your mind. Edit as necessary at the end of the semester.

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