Surviving Parent-Teacher Interviews (for Teachers)

“Will they ever stop talking? I’m already 10 minutes behind and other parents are waiting!” ¬†There are many common issues with parent teacher interviews, so here’s a few tips to help make them great!

  1. Provide snacks (Timbits if you’re Canadian!) – it’s just a nice thing to do.
  2. Use a timer. Set your timer to go 2 minutes before the end of each interview. When the timer goes, wrap it up and if there is more to say, use the time to schedule another meeting.
  3. If the person does not stop talking, simply get up and let the next parents into the classroom.
  4. It is important to be on time as parents have interviews with other teachers. We need to respect their time. We need to take charge to make sure we are in control of the interview timing. It’s not being rude to interrupt a long-winded parent – it’s polite to all the other parents and teachers, and to yourself.
  5. Always start and end with things the student does well. It is much easier to get parents’ help with difficult issues with the student if they feel the interview went well.
  6. Ask the principal or another teacher to join you if you feel an interview will not go well.
  7. If the student has a behavioural or academic issue, state what it is without accusing the parents, state what strategies you have tried and what strategies you are going to try, clearly state what you would like the parents to do e.g. use the same strategies at home as you are using at school or talk to their child, assure the parents that you are sure that things will improve as you work together with them and the child on the issue.
  8. If the parents are getting too angry, suggest setting up another appointment to talk about it more. If they won’t leave or are very aggressive, call the principal or go and get the principal.
  9. Be sure to write a note or an email or speak to parents before the interview if there are any major problems. It’s not good to blindside them and then the interview can be more productive.
  10. Have fun! Crack jokes, smile, tell funny stories – school life is better when the parents are on your side!

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