Parent-Teacher Conferences

Hi, Teachers!

I still have some conferences to get through, but PHEW! What a wave of relief I am feeling after getting through the majority of my conferences. I'm already prepared for the rest of them, so  I can breathe a little bit this weekend. Thank goodness!! I came home last night and fell asleep on the couch while watching Monk with Mr. Word On Third. Then I moved to the bed and slept for ten more hours. I needed that!

Our conferences came very early this year because our school-district is shifting to making the first conference of the year a goal-setting conference. I know some teachers weren't originally happy with this change, but if I'm being perfectly honest, I think it was a change that was over-due! I also think most of the teachers who weren't happy about this will find that they like this way of running a conference much better for many reasons. I love the idea of setting goals for students with their families. By dedicating a portion of your conference discussion to goal-setting, you will find that conversations with parents are much more open and effective. You will learn about students and families while still having a forum to share your students’ strengths and challenges. You will show students’ families that you are on the same team when you invite them to share their observations and hopes for their children. All of a sudden, families feel included in the conversation, which makes your parent-teacher team much more powerful.

I know that many other teachers are going to have their parent-teacher conferences soon, so I thought it would be useful if you had a simple, efficient parent-teacher conference template to use when preparing for conferences. I created one for you for free which you can download on Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking the the picture below.

When I run conferences, I do a few things. I like to:
  1. Set goals for the child, which are jointly decided upon. They are usually related to the hopes and dreams the parent or child sets at the beginning of the year. I strongly recommend practicing active listening here. Not only will it make the family feel listened to, but it will ensure that you understand what the family is trying to communicate. Sometimes we hear families say one thing and interpret it differently than they mean it. 
  2. Discuss areas of strength, which means that I will show how the child and I both reflect on this. I show families samples of student-work, which can be chosen by the student. 
  3. Discuss areas of challenge, and we discuss ways the both the child and the family-teacher team can work on these.
  4. Ask if parents have any other questions or concerns. This is usually a small part of the conference, but it's so often over-looked.

We often come into conferences so prepared, that we spend at least 90% of the time talking, many times more. When I first started teaching, I felt like I was giving a little presentation instead of having a discussion. Really, though, that's what we're doing--HAVING. A. DISCUSSION. If we are really having a conference, the talking and listening needs to be shared. I guarantee your families will feel happier working with you when they know that their hopes and goals for their child are honestly considered. That makes everyone's lives easier when it comes to conferences!

When are your parent-teacher conferences? What are your tips for making conferences run smoothly? Do you put anything special in your waiting area for parents?

1 comment

  1. We have a workday after the first nine weeks so we can spend the day knocking out parent conferences. I have a recording sheet that is similar to yours that has strengths, challenges, goals, and ways to help at home. I put a list of websites parents can use at home and question stems for parents to use when they read with their student in my waiting area!