Parent-teacher conferences can be a stressful time for teachers. Not only are expected to talk about student issues with parents face-to-face, it can make for long days (and nights). Conversations can get extra long, and lines can form while parents wait to meet with you to discuss plans for their children. This year, make sure there are no surprises before parent-teacher conferences with communication keys to save conference days and nights!
Send home a questionnaire.
A week before parent-teacher conferences, I send home a questionnaire to ask parents what they would like to discuss and focus on at conferences. Of course, there are a few things that are always on the agenda, but if there are concerns or opportunities parents want addressed, you can prepare for those conversations before they happen.
Share assessment results.
Make sure you have assessment results on one page, so parents can see testing outcomes at a glance, rather than going through multiple pages. This will save you time (and trees) at conferences. Eventually, you can use these result sheets to show and measure student growth and progress between conference times.
Let students reflect.
If your school implements student led conferences, student reflection forms can be part of the actual conference. Have your students complete these by reflecting on their strengths and opportunities for growth prior to conferences. This is the perfect way for students to lead the conversations during their parent-teacher conference. I also love these forms for parents that are unable to attend conferences. You can send home student reflections and have parents return them with a signature after they've had a conversation with their student. Either way, there's an incredible opportunity for communication and growth!
Address behavior and academic concerns early.
If students have consistent learning or behavior problems, the first time parents hear about these issues should not be at conferences. Make sure to communicate via phone or email when students are struggling in your class. Involving parents can also help lessen behaviors in class. For example, if a student is struggling staying focused, the parent(s) may be able to provide some insight on how they are able to stay on task at home. They may also be able to shed some light on things the child is dealing with outside of school.
Communicate with parents early and often.
Besides student concerns, let parents know what is going on in your classroom from the beginning of the school year and beyond. Use newsletters to share learning targets, activities to do at home, and important dates. When parents know what you are doing in the classroom, there will be less surprises and repetitive questions at conference time.
Parent-teacher conferences don't have to be the most stressful time of year. Look forward to conferences and view them as a chance to meet with families to best help their students in and outside of your classroom. There will be no surprises come conference time when you set up your students and parents for a successful communication plan year-round!
Need more parent conference ideas and tips? See this post with 15 tips from real teachers!