Communication between parents and teachers is essential to student success in the classroom. As part of this communication, teachers should be regularly meeting with parents to discuss what is being taught and how the student is progressing. In addition, conferences may be needed to resolve concerns over a student's specific academic or behavioral issues. Following either type of meeting, the teacher should provide a report that summarizes what was discussed, and copies should be provided for parents, administrators, or other stakeholders. Writing this in a clear, professional manner will finalize the meeting and establish mutually agree-upon action items.
Restate Attendance & Goals
The body of a professional meeting summary should first include the time, date and people in attendance for the meeting. Provide a summary of the purpose of the meeting and note any goals that were the focus of the conference. This section may be short or long depending on the needs of the student and the amount of information that needed to be shared in the meeting. For example, you may state, "We discussed James' progress on the third-grade reading goals for this year and celebrated his achievement in writing" or "School behavior specialist expressed concern over Kelsie's classroom disruptions this fall, which were documented on the following dates". Be sure to include any goals or issues that the parent wanted to address in the conversation.
Following the goals summary, provide a description of what went on in the meeting. This is where you, as an educator, need to be especially positive if there were any stressful moments in the conference. Remember that what you write in the report will be held in writing by the parent and in your own student files, so be certain that everything stated is clear, accurate and professional. A statement like "Mrs. Jacobs expressed concern that Bryan's academic needs were not being adequately met through the current curriculum" allows the parents' voice to be documented without sounding critical. In the event that you and the parent disagreed, it would be wise to have a peer review the report prior to sharing.
Provide Action Steps
Ideally, your parent-teacher meeting will end with action steps. These can be actions that the teacher, parent or the student will be completing. They could include tutoring, remediation in the classroom, referrals to outside support staff, or even celebrations of achievements. Share whether the teacher will be contacting any other professionals to provide additional assistance to the student. Be sure to give a timeline for goals so that all participants have a realistic idea of when they should be accomplished. As the teacher, you need to be accountable for these timelines and follow up with parents or other professionals to be sure action steps have been completed on time.
Communicate With Stakeholders
Clear communication is essential to maintaining a positive parent-teacher-student relationship. Once you know that your report is complete, attach any additional documentation in the form of work samples or documents from the parent, then save copies for your own files. Digital copies on your computer may be easier to maintain, but some teachers like keeping a paper file for each student. Email or send home copies of the report to the parent and any other involved stakeholders and mark your calendar for any follow up that's needed.
With hands-on experience in the traditional classroom, the online setting, and the world of curriculum development, Jessica Smith is a veteran educator who is passionate about learning. Smith earned a M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from Concordia University and is certified in mathematics and exceptional student education.