When preparing for a conference with a child’s parents, keep in mind that a well-prepared Montessori environment is as important to parents as it is to children. When parents arrive in your Montessori classroom, they expect to see a clean, well-organized environment. After all, this is where their child spends the better part of his/her day.
For any teacher, it may be a little stressful when opening lines of communication for the first time. NAMC has put together a helpful list for Montessori teachers to better understand their role during a Parent-Teacher conference.
Parent-Teacher Conferences: The Role of the Montessori Teacher
Before the parents arrive for a conference, take the time to carefully prepare. It is important to have a clean table with an adequate number of chairs , as well as have your observations and notes on hand. You may also want to have extra paper and pencils available to offer to the parents should they wish to take notes.
Opening the Conference
Always begin the meeting on a positive note. It’s nice to be able to share anecdotes and stories about their child. Parents need to know that their Montessori teacher knows and cares about their child.
“I’m really glad you were able to meet with me. Before we begin, I wanted to tell you what happened today at recess. One of Kayla’s friends tripped and fell. Kayla went rushing right over and put her arms around her to comfort her. Then, she let her friend play with her favorite blue shovel in an effort to console her.”
This personal story helps put parents at ease and more receptive to what you have to discuss.
The Purpose of the Conference
After the introduction, begin by discussing your concerns. Let the parents know that you’ve personally observed the situation more than once and ask the parents if they have noticed the behavior at home.
“I asked you here today because I’m concerned with Kayla’s vision. I’ve observed on several occasions that she seems to have difficulty reading the materials or books. It’s becoming more apparent as we progress. I’ve observed her getting frustrated, then not wanting to continue working. She’s also started complaining about headaches.”
Active listening is a way of listening to another person that improves mutual understanding. As a Montessori teacher, it is important that you actively attend to parents as they ask questions or voice their concerns. It helps avoid misunderstandings between parents and teachers. Parents feel that they are truly “being heard” and are more apt to share.
These steps must be followed when actively listening:
- Look at the person and suspend other things you might be doing
- Listen, not only to the words, but to the feelings of the speaker
- Be sincerely interested in what the other person is talking about
- Restate what is being said
- Ask for clarification
- Be aware of your own feelings and opinions
- Listen completely before stating your own views
- “I’m listening cues” (“Really?”; “Mm-mmmm”; “Interesting”; “Uh-huh”)
- Validating statements
- Supporting statements
- Mirroring statements
- Good eye contact
- Facial expressions
- Body language
- Touching (when appropriate)
At the end of the conference, be sure to summarize the outcome of the meeting. If necessary, set a date to follow-up. Be sure to thank the parents for coming and let them know you are available to if they have any other questions or concerns.
Related NAMC Blogs:
- Montessori Philosophy - Communicating with Parents
- Parent-Teacher Conferences: The Role of the Montessori Parent
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, September 27, 2007.