Parent-teacher conferences are approaching. What if you just had an IEP team meeting, and you’ve said all you had to say? You should STILL go to the conferences! Don’t miss this opportunity to be face-to-face with your child’s teachers. It’s a much different environment than an IEP team meeting. At parent-teacher conferences, it’s just that teacher and you. You’re typically meeting in the teacher’s comfort zone – her own classroom – and her boss isn’t lurking over your shoulders and running the meeting. It gives you a unique opportunity to be heard, to learn more about this teacher’s personal perspective about your child, to ask specific questions that you might hesitate to ask in the larger, group setting, and to develop a rapport with this teacher that will carry you through the year. It’s also a great time to get a look at the classroom and see where your child sits and how well organized or neat his desk is. Laying eyes on the setup of the room will give you a better idea of how the day runs. Is there a classroom behavior chart? Are assignments listed on the board? Is there a quiet space set up? Are there computers in the room? Take it all in.
If you haven’t had an IEP team meeting with the new teachers yet, the parent-teacher conference is even more important. This is a great time to introduce your child to the teacher – to set the stage and describe your child the way you want him to be seen. Describe his needs. Explain how others have misinterpreted his behaviors. Tell the teacher what works. Explain the well-intentioned methods that have failed in the past. Bring a copy of the IEP and highlight the areas that pertain to this teacher, whether it’s a specific goal or accommodations that often get missed. Yes, the school is supposed to provide this information to the teachers, but sometimes schedules aren’t finalized until the last minute, and things fall through the cracks, or they just don’t have the time to review and prepare everything before the first day. Give them the tools they need. Make it easy for them to be prepared for your child and start off the year on a positive note.
During all of your communications with the teachers, you should remember to emphasize your desire to work together with the teachers, as a team, to help your child succeed. That’s so important! You are the BEST advocate for your child when you master the art of building a good relationship with the school. Productive communication is key, and parent-teacher conferences are a great place to start!