Your teacher wants your child to succeed academically and enjoy learning.

The Ethical Guidelines for a Parent-Teacher Conference

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

The phone rings and it's your child's teacher calling to request a parent-teacher conference. You don't want to assume your child is in trouble, but it can be hard to stop that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. Assume the teacher is calling to help your child succeed and that a little advance planning on your part will maximize the goals of the meeting. Stick to ethical guidelines that will benefit everyone.


Your attitude at a parent-teacher conference can set the conference up for success or failure. Believe that you and the teacher both want to see your child succeed and that you are building a collaborative relationship that can help that happen. Treat the teacher with respect for her time and experience by arriving a few minutes early so you can get started on time, and expect she will have useful information and advice for you.

Effective Communication

Effective communication is a must to accomplish anything in a parent-teacher conversation, according to the Harvard Family Research Project “Parent-Teacher Conference Tip Sheets.” Listen and ask questions about what you don’t understand. Talk to your child about the conference before you go in to get your child’s input on the teacher and academics, suggests Gracemarie Rozea, a New York state region director for the Parent Teacher Association. Take a list of questions you’ve prepared based on your child’s input and those you have about your child’s progress. Take notes during the conference so you can remember what was said, and consider steps you can take at home and things you want to chat about with your child, suggests.


The teacher needs your help to understand your child more fully, according to Rozea. Be honest with the teacher about what is going on at home, problems you know your child has and what you have tried in the past. The teacher should honestly talk to you about what’s going on in the classroom, any concerns about your child’s academic progress and behavior and ideas about how best to help your child.


The main purpose of a parent-teach conference is to build a partnership that helps your child make the most of the academic year. Ask your child’s teacher for suggestions you can use to help your child, suggests TeacherVision. Keep an open mind and consider trying various things to improve your child’s academic experience. Provide the teacher with various ways to contact you and ask how she would prefer contact if you need to chat with her. You can provide feedback to her in a few weeks on the suggestions she gave you, and be sure to express your appreciation for her time and for any suggestions you’ve found helpful.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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