Going Deeper: Collaboration: Parent-Teacher Conferences

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Estimated time: 15 minutes

Audience: parents & families, educators, administrators


A parent–teacher conference is a time when important people in a student's life can talk about how that student is doing in school. It's a chance for parents to ask questions about the class or their child's progress. It is also a time for the parent and the teacher to work together as a team to discuss ways they both can help the child.  Whether the child is in elementary, middle, or secondary school, parent-teacher conferences are important. Together, parents and teachers can help the child have a great school year by incorporating collaborative skills into the conference experience.


This activity has a short article to read that reviews how to prepare for parent-teacher conferences, and what to do during and following the conference. Following the article are two videos for participants to view.  One video is from the sitcom Third Rock from the Sun and the other from Roseanne. Both show examples of a parent-teacher conference with a humorous twist to it.  

Link to RtI Concepts and/or Research-based practices

Epstein’s Six Types of Family-School-Community Partnerships: Communication, Parenting

Wisconsin RtI Framework essential element: Collaboration


  1. Read the article:  “Making Parent Teacher Conferences Work for Your Child” and watch the two videos. You may want to view the video clips twice before addressing the questions below.
    For Reflection: 
    1. Based on the five characteristics of collaboration listed in “What is Collaboration?” (voluntary, based on parity, requires shared goal, shared responsibility, and share accountability for outcomes), what is missing from each video clip? 
    2. Use information from the previous question and “Making Parent Teacher Conferences Work for Your Child” to determine how the parent teacher conference in each clip might be improved upon.  What could the teacher have done differently?  What could the parent have done differently?
    3. What strategies or activities could be done before or after the conference to help the parent and teacher partnership?
  2. Review the article “The Parent Teacher Conference – The Five Must Ask Questions” in the resource section and consider using this resource at your next parent teacher conference.


Third Rock from the Sun example: (2:16 minutes)

“Making Parent Teacher Conferences Work for Your Child,” National PTA.
“What is Collaboration?”
“The  Parent Teacher Conference – The Five Must Ask Questions"


Group Activity

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Activity Directions for Groups [pdf]

Additional Handouts:

  • None