Are parent-teacher conferences around the corner for you?
I remember my first conferences as a new teacher. I was nervous, so I over-prepared. I gathered tons of work samples and data. I tried to anticipate what parents would ask and planned my answers. When parents arrived, I presented them with WAY too much info and the whole thing felt rushed and a little awkward. I gave them them a lot of information, but I doubt they left my room feeling particularly empowered or optimistic about their child’s learning.
After that first set of conferences, I switched gears and tried hard to put myself in position of the parents. I figured out that parents do not want to be overwhelmed with data that they can read for themselves on their child’s report card or standardized testing reports. Instead, they want simple and straightforward information about their child’s strengths and weaknesses, and quick, actionable tips that they can use to support learning at home. They want to share input and feel like a valued partner in their child’s learning. And most of all, they want to know that the teacher really understands and appreciates their child, and recognizes his/her strengths and needs.
Now that I’m a parent myself, I’ve experienced conferences from both sides of the kidney-shaped table. I’m super happy when I leave a parent-teacher conference with a clear understanding of my child’s biggest strengths and areas to improve, a few manageable ways I can help at home, and the knowledge that the teacher truly “gets” my kid.
Here’s a list of my favorite blog posts and printable resources to help you prepare for an awesome parent-teacher conference week. This list will make conference prep a breeze, and it will help you host friendly, collaborative, positive, informative, actionable, and fun conferences!
- Think about how you want to manage your time with parents. Here are a few ideas: Make the most of your time by sending parent questions home in advance, set up work folders in the hallway so parents can browse their child’s work samples while they wait for their conference to start, or use the waiting time to have parents reflect on what they’re most proud of regarding their child’s learning so far this year.
- Here’s a helpful list of things to do AND things to avoid.
- Get some great ideas for organizing conferences for upper grade students, and grab a handy (and gorgeous) editable conference summary printable.
- Check out my School + Home Communication Pinterest Board for more printable forms and conference planning ideas.
Get the students involved…
- Before speaking with the parents, get the students involved in self-evaluation and goal setting. I love these SMART goals from What I Have Learned Teaching. And Lucky Little Learners shares some excellent planning tips plus a free self-evaluation form from for younger kids.
- If you want to do student-led conferences, here are some resources to guide you.
Put parents at ease…
- Do you put out mints or gum at conferences? With all that talking, both teachers and parents can probably use a mint! It’s a simple way to help everyone feel a little more comfortable, at least about their breath! Here’s a cute mint printable from Alisha at Missing Tooth Grins. And here is a good idea for using gum.
- Consider families’ special needs and accommodate when it’s reasonable. If parents are divorced, maybe in some cases separate conferences would be more productive.
- Consider cultural differences and do what you can to make everyone feel included and welcome.
Teach parents what they need to know to help…
- Conference time is the perfect time to help parents understand the importance of Growth Mindset. I love this free printable from Sarah Gardner.
- For parents who want simple ways to reinforce the Common Core standards at home, try these Core at Home resources from my TpT store.
- These At Home Reading Support pages from Growing Firsties are great for primary grades.
Again, ask for parent input in advance to save time during conferences, and so you can prepare to discuss the issues that concern them most. Grab my form here, or you can find loads more pre-conference questionnaires on Pinterest. I also love this list for some out-of-box question ideas.
Are you wondering what parents might want to ask you? Check out this list for ideas.
Good luck, and happy conferencing!
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