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Parent Teacher Conference Tips

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Parent-teacher conferences are a busy and stressful time of year. Conference days/nights are long and the meetings run into each other, but I am here to help you make the best of your parent meetings. Here are 5 parent-teacher conference tips to help make things run smoothly.

Tip #1: Conference Sign Ups

When I taught we had two formal conferences during the school year. There were fall and spring conferences. Fall conferences were scheduled for all parents by the office and spring conferences were drop in. However, even in the spring, I would schedule conferences because I do not like surprises. I like to be prepared and know what to expect. An easy way to create a conference schedule was through SignUpGenius. You can create a free sign-up. Parents will sign-up during the time slot they would like for their conference and SignUpGenius even sends reminders! They really made it easy.

Tip #2: Flexible Conference Schedule

My school was decompartmentalized from third grade up. That meant I had my own fourth-grade homeroom and two other fourth-grade science classes. This could mean anywhere up to almost 90 students. My largest year was 87. I would always have parents from the other homerooms who wished to meet with me about their child’s scientific progress. Which I was, of course, happy to do, but that meant I needed to be very flexible with my conference schedule.

We were given two formal time slots. The first was a half day and the second was an evening from 5-8 (ish). I would let parents know I was happy to meet them before or after school hours on other days. This was helpful for those parents who were unable to attend conferences during the formal schedule but still wanted to meet. It was also helpful for me to lighten my load on those scheduled conference meetings.

Tip #3: Be Prepared

Image shows parent pre-conference survey set up within student folder

Now that you have your conferences scheduled it is time to think about what you will be meeting individually about. A good way to gauge each family is to send home a preconference survey for the parents to fill out and send back. Likewise, you can have students fill out a self-survey. I found students to be very forthcoming and open in these surveys which led to great starting points with the parents.

Image shows student data sheet with important information.  Paper reads: areas of strength, areas to improve, parent comments, student goals/areas to work on and below are two tables for student data.

I created a folder for each student at the beginning of the year, kept important documents within the folders, and brought these to conferences with me. A quick sheet for data at a glance is a really helpful tool when meeting with parents. The image above shows what I used for my students. I would fill out this paper for each student folder and I had what I needed right at my fingertips.

Tip #4: Glows & Grows or a Compliment Sandwich

Image shows a pencil box in the top corner.  A student is holding a clipboard.  On the clipboard is a paper.  The paper says Glows and Grows at the top.  There are three boxes.  The top box says Glows.  The middle box says Grow and the bottom box says how you can help at home.

Conferences can be a challenge especially when you have to address concerns about a student. It is important to remember that parents are worried and want the best for their children. When approaching a tough topic it can be helpful to use glows and grows or a compliment sandwich. Glows and grows are where we focus on what a student is doing well and highlight that. Celebrate their achievement. Then take a look at where the student may need assistance or to work harder, address it, and create some steps that should lead to improvement. If you want to try this method out in your classroom grab my free conference forms below.

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    Tip #5: Keep Them Busy While They Wait

    If your conferences are anything like mine they will run over the time limit no matter what you do. Ours were 10-minute meetings. 10 MINUTES!?!?! I barely said hello to the parents and was almost out of time. My attempt to keep parents calm while waiting was to provide refreshments and something for them to do. I liked to place out a bowl of chocolates. It was simple, but it was a nice treat for the parents to take while they waited. I always set up a small desk outside my classroom. On the desk, I placed the chocolates, some handouts, and papers for parents to write a letter to their children.

    Image shows a letter to parents from the teacher asking them to write a letter to their child while they are waiting for their parent teacher conference.  Laying on the top is letter paper and a pen.

    The handouts were simple and covered topics like “How can I help my child succeed in school?” and “Helpful resources for parents.” Parents were able to take a copy if they wished or could read over them while they waited. I also had paper and pens for parents to write a note to their children. I fondly remember coming in the day after conferences and seeing notes from my parents. It was such a positive affirmation for young me.

    I hope you found these parent teacher conference tips helpful. Want to make conferences even easier? Grab my Painless Parent-Teacher Conference Forms from Teachers Pay Teachers. This has it all done for you. Print out the forms you need, add your information and head confidently to conferences knowing you are well prepared. If you want to read more about Painless Parent Teacher Conferences check out this blog post.

     

    My name is Jen and I’m the face behind Endeavors in Education.

    I have a passion for ELA and science. I am even STEM certified. Now I spend my time hanging with my kids, blogging (endeavorsined.com), and creating for my TpT store Endeavors in Education.

    I’m so happy you’ve joined me on this journey!

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