Getting ready to schedule parent-teacher conferences? As you know, these conferences are great opportunities to build a deeper working relationship with the parents. Parents expect you to highlight their child's strengths, discuss academic or social concerns, and share information about their child’s development.
Getting prepared is key! Here's a general outline for a 30-minute conference to help stay on track:
- 5 minutes: Opening conversation. Ask parents if they have any concerns.
- 10 minutes: Report on academic progress and concerns
- 10 minutes: Report on social progress and concerns
- 5 minutes: Sum up and end on a positive note!
Lastly, here are 10 tips to help you prepare and execute your parent-teacher conferences:
- Do some research first. Each child and parent relationship is unique which is why you may want to send a “looking forward to our conference” email a couple of weeks before parent conferences. It’s the perfect opportunity to survey parents about their main concerns and questions. Use their responses in your notes to guide your conference preparation.
- Use your established assessment system. We hope you are using ESGI for your assessments, which provides you with progress reports and flash cards based on each child’s needs. No matter what system you use to assess, be sure to review any checklists or notes you've been using for ongoing assessment.
- Be prepared with samples of student work. Remember all those fun activities you had your students doing over the past few months? It’s time to show them off! Parents expect to leave a conference with a clear understanding of their child’s progress in class and areas that need some work.
- Always begin with what the child does well. Think about your own employer evaluations. Are you more receptive to hearing all the areas you are underperforming in as soon as you walk in the door or are you more receptive to hearing some positivity first? Lead with the good if you want to be heard when you recommend an evaluation, a change in reading group, or a tutor.
- Make it personal. Show that special relationship you have with each child by having an anecdote ready to share. Parents will deeply appreciate your knowledge of their child. Remember, you spend more time with their children during their waking hours than the parents do so sharing fun stories of the child in class will help parents feel more connected to the classroom.
- Offer solutions and not just problems. Be specific when asking for change. For example, you could say: "I'm concerned because your daughter is often distracted during independent work in my class. Here's what I'm doing to try to help her...Do you notice this behavior at home? How do you get her to refocus? Can you think of anything you might be able to do?"
- Take the opportunity to learn. It’s always a great idea to understand what the parents are thinking about their child’s time in and outside of your classroom. Don’t be afraid to ask about home life, what their child likes to do outside of school, and find out if the parent has any concerns about their child.
- Offer conversation starters. Put parents at ease with a question or two. Here are some examples to consider: "What does Adam like about school this year?," "What does Samantha like to do at home?," or "What are some things you'd like her to accomplish this year?"
- Address just one or two concerns. Everything can’t be addressed in one 30-minute meeting. Plus, listing too many problems can make parents feel defeated. Mention there are always things to work on with every student, and for now you'd like to concentrate on just one or two specific to their child.
- Send a follow up note. After each parent-teacher conference, send a note thanking parents for meeting with you. If you offered to provide resources or examples, make sure you do so as promised.
So now that you’re organized and prepared….are you ready to schedule those conferences? ESGI makes the tedious and often VERY frustrating task so much easier! We have the Parent Conferencer feature within ESGI. Did you know you could schedule each student and send ready-made letters home to the parents (in English and Spanish) that include the time you’ve chosen and options to choose a different time if needed? It also prints a grid of the days and times to give the office!
Rochelle shows you how easy it is to use the Parent Conferencer feature in the video below:
We hope these tips help you as you prepare for parent-teacher conferences. Please share this blog post with your colleagues. We’re sure they’d appreciate the help, too!
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