Preparing for Parent Teacher Conferences
by Brianna Richard, on Oct 6, 2021 1:24:47 PM
October is here. The leaves are changing colors, temperatures are dropping and pumpkin spice is hitting the shelves of supermarket stores. The change of seasons brings much to look forward to but also a bit of an obstacle into classrooms across the country- parent-teacher conferences.
Parent-teacher conferences can be a stressful week for students, parents, and teachers. But it doesn’t have to be! Need a little help framing parent-teacher conferences in a positive light? Here are some reasons why they are important.
- A positive parent-teacher conference can increase parent involvement and help your students to be their best with the support of all the adults around them.
- It is an opportunity to learn all about your students from the parent’s point of view which in turn gives the teacher valuable insight into student needs and strengths.
- It is an opportunity to address enrichment, intervention, and issues that can support student growth.
- Sometimes it is the only time you will see a child’s parent or guardian all year!
Hopefully you are won over and truly understand the value in parent teacher conference week. Here are a few tips to help you get motivated and prepared so the week is successful.
1. Have a flexible schedule
A flexible conference week schedule is essential for both parents and teachers. My first year teaching I only offered conferences after school. Some days I would have over 10 conferences back to back and it would last well after the sun went down. Not all parents are able to take off work and meet after school. Offering conferences first thing in the morning or even during lunch makes it so all parents can attend. It also breaks up the amount of conferences teachers have in a row to prevent burn out.
2. Be prepared
Preparing for conferences can be a lot of work but it is well worth it and important to not show up empty handed! I always like to have recent test scores, class assessments, and a collection of student work. If you have a student who is a fantastic artist, make sure to have some of their art present! If you have a student that needs to work on organizing their writing, have a writing sample ready. Having tangible examples of both the positives and the negatives will make the entire conference run smoothly.
3. Come up with a goal
The purpose of the conference is to help promote student learning. Having a clear goal that parents and guardians are aware of is the best way to make this happen. If you have a student who is struggling with reading, agree with the parents on an amount of time they can read outloud each week. If you have a student who has already mastered multiplication facts, come up with an agreed upon goal to master division. Goals are great for students who need enrichment and review. I like to write the goal down for both parents and myself so we can refer back to it at report card time
4. Keep it Positive
This one can be tricky but is essential. Try to keep the conference as positive as possible. We all have students who are a grade level or more behind. We all have students who have purposely flooded the bathroom and pushed a fellow classmate. These are the students whose parents need to hear what their child is succeeding at and the kids need to hear it too.
Occasionally, no matter how prepared and positive you are, the parent or guardian can come off as hostile. Try as best you can not to take it personally. Conferences can be stressful for both parents and teachers. When I have encountered hostile parents, I just try to remind them we are all on the same team and move the conversation back into the right direction.
So take a deep breath, get those student work samples ready, and remember just how important this week is.