I may be among a select few that actually look forward to and enjoy parent-teacher conferences. It’s a time for me to get to know my students’ parents and for me to share what their child is learning in school both academically and socially. One of the main things I always remember going into a conference is that the child I’m going to talk about means the world to the parent sitting in front of me. That right there, my teaching friends never leaves my mind! So, how can you keep your sanity before, during, and after parent-teacher conferences? Stay organized and focused!
1. Conference Sign-UpA few weeks before conferences decide and set up how you want parents to sign up for a conference. Online options include Sign Up Genius, Sign Up Sheets, you can even create a Google Form to send out to parents. Be sure to have parents choose at least their top three choices to prevent overlapping when creating your schedule.
2. Pre-Conference SurveySend a survey home with each child before conferences so that you can get a feel for the upcoming meeting. It will help you to prepare for the unexpected. Send the survey home a couple of weeks before to give parents time to fill it out and get it returned to you in enough time so that you can review it.
3. Conference ReminderAs soon as a parent has signed up for a conference, send a reminder home. Reminders can be email, text, and/or paper. Send an additional reminder home a few days before the scheduled conference.
4. Student Self EvaluationProviding a self-evaluation for students to fill out can be a great tool to share with parents during conferences. More times than not, students are harder on themselves than we are on them! Showing this during conference time is also great for sparking conversations if needed.
5. Create a PortfolioThis portfolio doesn’t have to be anything special. I simply collect all the items that I want to share with parents and place all the items in a manilla folder. Once I have all the items in each students’ folder, I put the folders in order according to the scheduled time for each conference. Here is a suggested list of things that you may want to include: Student self-evaluation, grade card, latest test scores, samples of student’s work (strengths and weaknesses), and ideas for things that can be done at home.
6. Conference NotesBefore conferences, make notes that you can refer to during the conference. These notes are for you only. List students’ strengths, concerns, classroom behavior (good or bad), and work habits. During the conference, make notes about parents’ questions and/or concerns that you need to follow up with.
7. Create an Inviting EnvironmentYou want to try your best to stick to your schedule and time limit, but we all know that sometimes that doesn’t happen. For this reason, outside of your classroom have chairs for parents to sit in while they wait. Also, include a sign-up sheet for parents to sign. Placing a table next to your chairs would be a perfect place! Inside the classroom, be sure to have adult-sized chairs available for parents to sit in. There is nothing more uncomfortable than little chairs! Also, when determining where you want to sit with parents, pick a space that will be comfortable for everyone. Don’t sit behind your desk with parents in front of you. That can be very intimidating.
Additional Tips to Consider
- Be sure to make eye contact when speaking with parents.
- Try to keep each conference as close to the time limit as possible.
- Allow a small amount of time between conferences for a break.
- Follow up with parents after the conference.
- You can find even more tips HERE.