Four Steps to a Successful Parent-Teacher Conference

Melissa Mullane
Parent-Teacher Conference season is upon us. At school, teachers have been working over the quarter collecting samples of your child's work, observing classroom and playground behaviors, and gathering data regarding reading and math progress, along with other anecdotal observations. Preparation by the teacher requires a great deal of time and careful planning in order to make the most of the time spent at the conference. 

This meeting is an opportunity to work together with your child's teacher to support a positive relationship between your family and the teacher. Whether this is your first time meeting your child's teacher or you have met several times before, establishing a meaningful relationship in your child's best interest is the key to a positive school experience. If your child sees you and the teachers working together as a team, everyone benefits.

Here are four tips to make the most of your conferences.
  1. Be there on time — To ensure each family gets the maximum amount of time with the teacher, please arrive promptly at your designated conference time for lower school and during your assigned time block for middle school.
  1. Come prepared  — Please print out the report card from the school portal and review it before meeting with the teacher. Talk to your children before the conference and ask if there is anything they would like you to talk about with their teachers. It is important to get a sense from your child about how they think school is going outside of what their grades might tell you. They likely have a strong understanding of what aspects of school are most challenging for them, and their input can serve as an additional way to discuss strengths and weaknesses with their teacher. Additionally, it is important for children to understand the purpose of these meetings, as they are an opportunity for their parents and teachers to find ways of helping them with academics and are not punitive.
  1. Listen and be open-minded — Your child's teacher has spent the past months daily with your child in an environment that is very different from home. You will hear positive areas of feedback about your child's progress and areas for growth. A challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn.
  1. Ask questions — Be ready to ask questions about ways you and the teacher can help your child with some of his or her challenges. Making a list of questions beforehand can be helpful in targeting areas of concern or curiosity around your child's academics.
Consistent communication and parent involvement are important ingredients in your child's educational growth. While conferences are a great opportunity to learn more about your child's progress, there may also be other times throughout the year when it is helpful to reach out to teachers about further questions or concerns about how your child is doing. When avenues of communication are well developed with teachers early on, it is easier to problem-solve and address concerns as they emerge during the school year. Following these steps can help you create partnerships and ensure that your child is equipped to succeed.

Melissa Mullane has worked at Harbor Day School since 2001. Mrs. Mullane received her bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a teaching credential from the University of San Francisco, and a master’s degree and credential in reading and literacy from San Francisco State University. A Bay Area native, Mrs. Mullane taught kindergarten and second grade in the public schools before making a move to New York City with her husband. In New York, she joined the faculty at an all-girls independent school as a fourth grade teacher. Moving to Newport Beach after an amazing few years teaching and experiencing all that New York City had to offer, Mrs. Mullane knew that she had found the right fit when she came to Harbor Day. 

At Harbor Day, Mrs. Mullane’s journey to the position of Lower School Director came after many years as a classroom teacher, advisor, and learning specialist. Mrs. Mullane taught fourth and fifth grade before transitioning to the position of Learning Specialist. She held that role for over 10 years and transitioned into the Lower School Director in 2018.

Harbor Day School

3443 Pacific View Drive
Corona del Mar, CA 92625 Phone<title><script type="mce-text/javascript"> (function(a,e,c,f,g,h,b,d){var k={ak:"984895077",cl:"EfBCCP-Fv3UQ5ZzR1QM"};a[c]=a[c]||function(){(a[c].q=a[c].q||[]).push(arguments)};a[g]||(a[g]=k.ak);b=e.createElement(h);b.async=1;b.src="//";d=e.getElementsByTagName(h)[0];d.parentNode.insertBefore(b,d);a[f]=function(b,d,e){a[c](2,b,k,d,null,new Date,e)};a[f]()})(window,document,"_googWcmImpl","_googWcmGet","_googWcmAk","script"); </script><head><body>1-949-640-1410<html></html></body></head><br><br><br>
Harbor Day School is a co-educational private independent K-8 school established in 1952.