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    13 Educators Share Suggestions for Better Parent-Teacher Conferences

    by Ellen Ullman, on Mar 12, 2024 10:07:44 AM

    Parent-teacher conferences give both parties the chance to evaluate a student’s progress and develop a plan for future success. Too often, however, these quick sessions don’t go deep enough and everyone feels disappointed. Whether your district holds conferences in the fall, the spring, or both, here are some teacher-approved ideas to get the most out of these discussions.

    1. “My students loved when their parents would write a letter or note and leave it in their desks. It was a quick and easy thing they could do after the conference.”
    Suzy Brooks, director of instructional technology, Mashpee (MA) Public Schools

     2. “Have a funny anecdote to share. It puts everyone at ease.”
    Korey Barkley, Spanish teacher, Peabody (MA) Public Schools

    3. “I like to have a nice table outside the door with a tablecloth and flowers—maybe a bowl of mints or candies—and a few articles for the parents to read while they wait.”
    —Christine Sargeant, teacher, Fraser Woods Montessori School, CT

    4. “At the start of the conference, ask the parents if they have any concerns they would like to address or if they would like you to start. Most want the teacher to begin, but some parents want to talk first.” 
    —Irene Farmer, teacher, Burlington (MA) Public Schools

    5. “I make sure I always have data and work to show parents. I keep in frequent contact with families throughout the year so there are no surprises at conference time. This helps the conferences run smoothly.”
    —Stacey Dart, teacher, Southside Academy Charter School, NY

    6. “After the conferences, let parents know about the great ideas you heard or feedback you received. This is easy to do with a communications platform and a fantastic way to show parents you’re listening and respect their expertise.”
    —Suzy Brooks 

    7. “Start with positives, no matter how small.”
    —Mike Gaskell, principal, East Brunswick (NJ) Public Schools

    8. “I recently did a parent conference for a student who has an external mental health team. With Bloomz, I'm able to invite outside agencies into our group review. We use the platform to communicate easily and securely." 
    —Stacey Krumsick, principal, Central Kitsap (WA) School District

    9. “Always have support, whether from colleagues or administrators, if you know it is going to be a difficult situation.” 
    —Carol Bolton Kappel, teacher, Newton (MA) Public Schools

    10. “My students are young, so I focus on who they are as people and share anecdotes. Are they kind, creative, observant, proactive, independent, a leader, etc?” 
    —Christine Sargeant

    11. “Having students explain their work and set goals is extremely effective and empowering for everyone. If possible, have a traditional parent-teacher conference in the fall and a student-led one in the spring. It’s the best of both worlds.”
    —Suzy Brooks

    12. “Parents need a chance to be heard. Show them that courtesy and repeat back that you’ve heard what they are saying. Emphasize that you are their partner in helping their child thrive and that you want what’s best for their child.”
    —Irene Farmer

    13. “Allow for virtual conferences. Many parents work and some do not like being at school as it does not hold good memories for them.”
    —Jeri Kemble, ClassLink National Academic Advisor