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NYC Helpline: How To: Manage Your Classroom
View Instructional Videos for Teachers about Classroom Management

Classroom Management (Secondary)

A high school science teacher demonstrates how her structured and routine-based classroom environment is the key to success.

Classroom Management (Elementary)

An elementary school teacher guides us through her daily classroom routines and shows how consistency and structure are essential.

Classroom Management through Cooperative Groups

View two elementary school teachers demonstrate how they engage their students through group work to help them learn.

How to Home
NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Communicating With Parents: Parent Teacher Conferences
Carolyn Hornik

A key in developing effective classroom management is the ability to communicate with parents and family members. Begin the school year with a welcome letter or phone call. Within the first month of school, try to call each parent to inform him or her of the successes their child is having at school. Invite parents to a “Back To School Tea.” At the tea, showcase materials and books that will be used, samples of reports and projects students will be participating in, standardized exam schedule, trips and special events. Establish the homework policy, review supplies needed, and inform parents of your expectations of the students. Survey parent talents, interests, and experiences and involve them as much as possible by inviting them to participate in projects, as speakers, demonstrators, and resource people.

Preparation for Parent – Teacher Conferences
Send a personal invitation to each parent for parent-teacher conferences. You may want to have parents fill out a pre-conference sheet like the one at


This will give you a heads up on what the parents’ concerns are. Follow up with a phone call to those parents who did not respond to your invitation.

Setting Up a Waiting Area
Conferences need to be held with privacy in mind. Set up an area outside of your classroom where parents can sign in and wait for their conference to take place. Gather class books, reading materials indicating how parents can help their children at home, photographs of projects and class events, and New York City Department of Education publications and place them on seats and tables in the waiting area. You might want to set a place for jackets and umbrellas. You might also set out a healthy snack, such as cut up carrots or celery.

Setting Up the Classroom
Try to have at least one piece of each student’s work on display. Keep bulletin boards current and attractive. Have assessment indicators, such as rubrics or checklists readily available, keep comments on each piece of work that relate to the standards, rubrics, and checklists. This will better enable parents and students to know how you are grading their work and that the grading is done in an objective manner.

Have student work folders, test folders, reading, and writing folders accessible for parent review. Prepare an agenda of what you’d like to communicate with each parent. A teacher – conference form can be very useful in organizing your thoughts. You can find a good example of one at:


Be sure to note any academic, speech, counseling, occupational therapy, and physical therapy intervention services each student is receiving. Be prepared with an anecdotal record of the student’s behavior. Parents are more likely to be cooperative when they can concretely see, in black and white, evidence of students’ work and incidences involving behavior issues. Anecdotal records should include the date of an incident, an objective description of what occurred, what the student’s reaction was, and what the teacher’s reaction and response was. Describe steps taken to defuse the situation and prevent a future occurrence. Brainstorm ways in which parents can help in reinforcing appropriate student behavior in school.

The Conference
Begin a conference by warmly greeting parents at the classroom door, introducing yourself, offering parents a comfortable seat, and sitting face to face. You might even offer parents a snack.

Always start off on a positive note. Beginning with positive comments will enable parents to open up and listen to what you have to say. If a parent is immediately faced with negative news, he or she may tune your words out and not even hear what you have to say. Inform the parent of the accomplishments and strengths of the student. You can read examples of positive comments by visiting the following:

Teachers Network – Report Card Comments

Ray’s Learning – Primary and Elementary School Comments



Helping Teachers – Comments For Report Cards

Hackensack High School Comments

Use the following as a check list:

  • Ask parents to voice their concerns and ask questions of you.

  • Listen actively to what each parent has to say and reflect back to them both content and feelings.

  • Describe goals in each subject area that you have for each student. Inform parents via work samples and anecdotal records how their child is actually performing in each curriculum area and in all social areas.

  • Offer the parent materials, resources, and example of how he or she can help her student achieve success in your class.

  • Enlist parental help in seeking solutions to any problems.

  • Incorporate parents’ ideas into a plan of action.

  • Summarize the main points covered in the conference.

  • End on a positive note, possibly setting up another conference in person or by phone to discuss feedback, changes that will take place as a result of today’s conference.

Make sure the parent knows you are on his or her side and on the side of the student. Reiterate that you, the parent, and the student are a team working to afford the best opportunity for success for the student.

Keep a record of what was discussed with the parent and what you will be following up on.

For parents who have limited English proficiency, invite an interpreter. This can be an older sibling or relative of the students. Linda Smith, an ESL specialist, and Sharon Schafer, a reading specialist, developed strategies for easier communication with parents with limited English proficiency. These strategies can be found at:


Keep Up Communications
Follow up a conference with a note or phone call. Thank parents for meeting with you, summarize the major conference points, and provide any additional information that has come up as a result of the conference. Send home notes when students have shown strengths and done well in class. This practice will make parents more likely to respond in a positive manner when it becomes necessary to send home a note or make a call regarding a problem a student is having. Send home a monthly or weekly newsletter, keeping parents posted on class events, topics being covered, projects, and accomplishments students are having in class. Showcase student work.

This process may seem like a lot of work; however, if educators have parents working with them to improve student success in school, it is well worth the effort.

Additional Resources on Conferencing With Parents

How to Handle Parent Teacher Conferences

Countdown To Open School Night

Expert ideas for solving your toughest parent problems.

Many Ways To Reach Parents

Breeze Through Your Conferences With Parents


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