How to stay positive during parent-teacher conferences

How to be positive during parent-teacher conferences

As I was climbing through the mountains of binders that hold my teaching resources, I came across a binder I haven’t seen in a while. When I looked inside I found a piece of paper that looks like it was given out at a conference in 1961 (Conference Time for Teachers and Parents; NSPRA Publications 1961). I started to smile immediately when I saw it because I used it so much the first year I was teaching to figure out how to communicate to parents in a positive manner about not so positive issues their children were having in class.

I didn’t learn how to have parent-teacher conferences while I was in college. I had only sat in on a few parent-teacher conferences when I was student teaching but they had been team led. I had to do my first one on my own and was unprepared for what I should say.  JoAnn Smith gave me this paper to help me prepare how to say what I needed to say before my first round of parent-teacher conferences. I have held onto it because most of it is still PC and I think it’s a great reference for teachers who would like to keep their parent-teacher conferences positive. I have retyped it below for you and added to it in parenthesis:

How to be Positive during Parent-Teacher Conferences

How to Tell Parents

There are many expressions which we use that may leave a false, or undesirable impression. Here is a list of expressions which may leave a negative impression, with a kindred, more positive, phrase which might be used.



Must Should
Lazy Can do more when he tries
Trouble maker Disturbs class
Uncooperative Should learn to work with others
Cheats Depends on others to do his work
Stupid Can do better work with help
Never does the right thing Can learn to do the right thing
Below average Working at his own level
Truant Absent without permission
Impertinent (rude) Discourteous (is working on showing courtesy to others)
Steal Without permission
Unclean Poor habits (have had to review personal hygiene habits or organizational skills)
Dumbbell Capable of doing better
Help Cooperation (works better with a partner or group)
Calamity Lost opportunity
Disinterested Complacent, not challenged
Expense Investment
Contribute to Invest in
Stubborn Insists on having his own way
Insolent (insulting or rude) Outspoken (enjoys sharing his opinion)
Liar Tendency to stretch the truth
Wastes time Could make better use of time
Sloppy Could do neater work
Incurred failure Did not meet requirements
Mean Difficulty getting along with others
Time and again Usually
Dubious Uncertain (would like to see him more confident with decisions or would like to see him ask questions about directions given for assignments or tasks)
Poor grade of work Below his usual standard (I’ve seen more detail and effort in previous work)
Clumsy Not physically well coordinated (or fine or gross motor skills have not caught up with growth)
Profane (cussing, swearing, bad words) Uses unbecoming language (uses inappropriate language for school)
Selfish Seldom shares with others
Rude Inconsiderate of others (is working on considering the feelings of others)
Bashful Reserved (intrapersonal learner)
Show-off Tries to get attention
Will fail him Has a chance of passing, if…

Keeping parent-teacher conferences positive will help keep the parent-teacher relationship positive. Remember that parents love their children, even when they are not behaving or are not meeting the standards or grade level work. They want to know that teachers care about their children too. Stating things that you are concerned about in a more positive manner during parent-teacher conferences can help ease the blow for parents because many of them will have no idea that there is an issue. It is also a good idea to have a plan for how you will help the students achieve a specific goal for the behavior or expectation that concerns you. You should encourage parents to have a plan as well by reminding them that you are partners when it comes to the child.

If you have any other ideas about how to say things in a more positive manner during parent-teacher conferences, please comment on this article so we can all learn more as teachers.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico


Please share your ideas and opinions with us so that we can grow as teachers!