How to REALLY Use Feedback from Parent Teacher Conferences

As parents, we can gather some great information when we attend parent-teacher conferences, but it’s not always easy to know the best ways to ACTUALLY use it. Most of the information falls into the buckets of… “doing great at this,” “needs improvement in this,” or “definitely need to pay attention to this.”

Our first instinct as parents when something goes awry is to “fix it!” but “it” may just be the sign of an underlying issue. We need to take the time to step back and first figure out what those underlying reasons truly are (large or small) so that we can address the root of the concern and problem solve around this.

What we want to be able to do, in partnership with our child, is to set goals and then create action plans for HOW to achieve these goals (examples: getting over the fear of class participation, improving a grade, staying organized or turning in work consistently, learning how to test better).

This process involves a little digging beneath the surface.

Read on for our take on how to REALLY use the feedback from parent-teacher conferences to impart change.

We’ll share common teacher feedback, as well as some do’s and don’ts for parents.

Most common teacher feedback:

  • Needs to participate more
  • Inconsistent effort
  • Doesn’t perform well on tests/quizzes
  • Needs to ask for help
  • Not paying attention
  • Talking or fidgeting
  • Not doing, remembering or turning in work
  • Not using resources available
  • Seems capable, but not performing to full potential


  • Lecturing or yelling, instructing or directing: “You really should just ____.” or “You need to study more!” (We know. It’s hard.)
  • Helicoptering or Lawnmowing (watching over, saving the day, making excuses, doing things for the student they can do for themselves)
  • Rewarding or punishing based on grades or focusing on /constantly checking grades
  • Making claims you aren’t likely to keep (I’ll be sure you study 30 minutes every night, we’re going to institute a new family plan and meeting schedule)


  • Set expectations and goals (what do you want to see and what does this look like?) Help them to set their own goals.  Use aids such as visuals or prompts when needed, but let them set the goals. It’s great to connect their goals to your goals, but allow them to phrase it in their own way. Talk about what it LOOKS LIKE as a family. What will it look/be like when the goal is reached? How will it feel?
  • Assess what is REALLY going on or getting in the way (sometimes it’s the smallest of things)   Sit down and talk with your child. Write notes as you go. Give multiple choice prompts and cues if needed (honey, do you think it could be _____? Or ______? Or something else?  Sometimes they need ideas and help as they articulate.  Most importantly, resisting that urge to lecture, yell, hover, etc. is critical – and often leads to shut down or self sabotage.  Making empty or impulsive threats also is not helpful. Besides the very real issue most of us have with follow-through, these actions rarely result in behavior change for the long term. Rather, focus (and refocus) on: What are our goals, and what are the roadblocks getting in our way and preventing us from achieving those goals?
  • Brainstorm ideas and figure out WWIT (what will it take) to get there or make change Guided problem solving helps ultimately in improving their confidence in their problem solving skills, their ability to overcome obstacles and achieve goals, and thus improving their overall self-confidence.
  • Determine if accountability or consequences are needed to encourage habit change  We talked about how not to go crazy with consequences (“You are grounded for a year!”) . But that doesn’t mean that your student doesn’t need accountability measures. Work with them, figure out goals, and then ask – What might they need from us to make this happen? This intervention and support can take diverse forms – More structure? Time limits? For you to take their phone?  – and is very individual to each student and their family, depending on a large part on what works best for your student and family. Ask: What motivates them?
  • Create and emphasize the plans or processes needed to achieve goals-focus on the HOW rather, focus on the process and the effort.  Keep the long view, and remember that it’s about them learning how to put in the work and figuring out the effort required, and what that looks like, so they can reach their goals. This also often, ultimately, results in increased ownership and confidence. – the key is consistency, routine, and practice.
  • Enlist Help! We at SFSS do have plenty of blogs, strategies to share and tools to help you with this. A good place to start is the Grade Analysis Tool, but all the tools mentioned below (and more) are available to view and purchase on the Solutions for Student Success website.  Snag your FREE DOWNLOAD of our GRADE ANLYSIS here  (LINK)

WATCH here as we explain our observations and suggestions!



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