Parent-Teacher Conference Tips for Parents
It's that time of year - parent-teacher conference time.
For the parent of a disabled child with an IEP, the parent-teacher conference offers an excellent opportunity to gather information on your child. The parent-teacher conference is not an IEP meeting and should not be treated as such. You should not expect to review the nuts and bolts of your child's IEP at a parent-teacher conference, and no changes can be made to an IEP at the conference (if you want an IEP meeting - request one). Instead, think of the parent-teacher conference as an information gathering mission. You can then use this information to assess your child's progress towards their IEP goals and to help determine whether your child's educational program is meeting their needs.
Prepare for the conference. Prior to the conference, review the goals and measurements in your child's IEP. Write down questions targeted at gathering data relevant to your chlid's goals. It can also be helpful to contact the teacher prior to the conference to ask if they could provide specific information at the conference. For instance, you may want to see spelling quizzes if you know your child has trouble with spelling. Many schools and teachers also track student progress using electronic applications such as Edmodo or Classroom Dojo. You should review these prior to the conference to identify areas where your child may be struggling.
Gather data. Data such as the child's test scores, paper grades, behavior reports, and other anecdotal information reflect on the student's progress towards their goals. If possible, obtain copies of this information and keep for your child's file. Alternatively, take notes and craft a summary email to the child's teacher when you get home. This same information is important if your child has not yet been determined eligible for special education services. Information gathered at a parent-teacher conference can be used in the initial evaluation phase of the special education process or during the child's IEP meeting.
Listen. Ask for a frank assessment of your student's progress. The teacher has unique insights into your child's strengths, weaknesses, and needs. The teacher may recommend services that could be added to your child's IEP or, if your child has not been evaluated for a diability, may suggest that the child be evaluated. If a teacher expresses concerns with the student or indicates that the child may need special education support, you may want to set a separate time to meet with the teacher to review their concerns thoroughly.
Keep lines of communication open. Don't forget to thank the teacher and ask how best to communicate with them going forward. It is important to keep an open-line of communication with your child's teachers throughout the special education process.