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Back to School Night is Approaching! Here Are 10 Key Questions to Ask At a Parent Teacher Conference

School is in session for some and will be in session soon for others.  While most parents are preparing their children for the new school year, many teachers and administrators are preparing for Back to School night.  Back to School night, is generally a time to get to meet your child's teacher(s) and get an overview of their class(es).  While Back to School
 night is not the time to sit down and talk for hours with your child's teacher, it is a time to think of some good questions you will want to discuss when you have a parent teacher conference.  Most schools have a scheduled time for parent teacher conferences, however they can also be scheduled any time of the year at the discretion of the teacher and parent. 

Whether your child attends a public or private school, parental involvement in education is key. Parent teacher conferences are a vital tool for understanding how and what your child is learning, but if you don't ask the right questions, it can be a wasted opportunity. Here are 10 key questions to ask during a parent teacher conference.

1. Ask to see samples of your child’s work and discuss it with the teacher. Did it meet or exceed the standards? What can be done to make it better?

2. Have the teacher give you a copy of a rubric they use to grade student work. Teachers may have a different rubric for each assignment, but it is a good idea to get a copy of at least one so you can see how they determine the student grade.

3. Find out the areas your child is strong in and where he/she excels. Often teachers save good comments for “good kids” and bad comments for kids that annoy them. But it is important for teachers to be able to speak praise of all students and look for areas of improvement for even their favorite students. Sometimes it takes a parent's inquiry to bring this to the table.

4. Find out the areas your child needs to improve in. If they are struggling in math or language arts, ask about any supplemental services that may be offered at the school.

5. Ask for recommendations on how you can help your child with schoolwork at home. Find out what you can do at home to best support the teacher's lessons in the classroom. Your child will learn best when you and the teacher are doing your best to support each others vision for your child.

6. Find out if your child is performing on grade level. Is the curriculum taught in the classroom below, at or above the grade level standards? Unfortunately not every teacher grades the same way, sometimes students may receive high marks, because they mastered the material in class, but if the material in class was not grade level material they may still be behind.

7. Ask how your child is assessed and how often assessments are given. Are there more multiple choice exams, are they expected to write, give oral presentations, do research? For years I taught high school and I always required my students to give an oral presentation. I was disappointed at the amount of students who informed me that my class was the first that required them to get in front of the class and speak. So many teachers are inundated with standardized exams that the focus gets clouded.

8. Ask about the social behaviors of your child. Although academics are the primary reason for classroom time, social behavior is also very important. Is your child distracted during lessons, using a cell phone during class, do they get along well with their peers, etc.

9. Share any information you want the teacher to know about your child, so they can better serve his or her needs. Remember that the teacher does not know any background information regarding your family. Sometimes providing information helps the teacher understand your child’s unique needs.

10. Find out the best way to communicate with the teacher. Does the teacher prefer to be e-mailed, called on the phone, do they use social media? 

Do you feel your parent teacher conferences go well? Are there concerns you have with your child's teacher that go unanswered? What questions would you add to the list?  

Originally posted on Baby & Blog 

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