We know that parent conferences can be nerve-racking as it is but then throw in virtual conferences without guidance. That's enough to overwhelm any teacher. I'm going to share a really easy platform I've been using the last year, that can be used in the classroom to set up virtual parent conferences easily.
The purpose of using this platform is that it's going to save you time. It's going to automate things.
Create an account
I want to show you a really cool tool that I've been using in my business. And I shared it with teachers inside Easy Teaching Tools Members Club back in September. And it's going to help you plan your virtual conferences with families. So what you need here is to go to Calendly. It is completely free. You can do this with the free account. If you do the paid account, it's $10 a month. You're able to send reminder emails before your conference and a follow-up email, which is something that I always did when I would meet with families face-to-face.
Set up your virtual conference sign up
when families sign up, they automatically get that link to join you at your conference. So it's not like you're having to follow-up at a later date to send them everything that they need. So I'm going to show you how to create this and then kind of what it will look like on their end of things. So click here. Once you create your account, you're going to sync it up to your actual calendar and you'll sync it up to Zoom or whatever it is that you're using. Go to new event, click on one-on-one and then give it a name. And then this is the part location.
Set up your availability
You're able to link it up to your calendar. So if you're like using Google Calendar or something like that, what's really great is that when families go in to choose their conference time, it won't interfere with things that you already have scheduled, which is really great. And then my favorite part about it is that you can link it to Zoom or to Google Meet, whatever you're using in Microsoft Teams. There's a bunch of different platforms, so you can link it to.
Typically I do 20-minute conferences. So you can change your time to whatever you want it to look like. What's really cool is that in your settings, you can decide how much of a buffer do you want in-between your conferences so that it's not just back to back.
And then this is the important part. You're going to choose your date range. So the most likely for conferences, you're going to have like a conference week. So let's pretend this is our conference week, November 9th through the 13th. Those are the only days there'll be able to choose to have a conference. If yours is two weeks, you can extend it two weeks. It's up to you. I'm going to choose that. And then choose your time zone and then the availability part. This is important.
Now, most likely you're going to be teaching during the day. In my district, we always had Monday off where it was all conferences. And then Tuesday through Friday, minimum days, and then I would fit in conferences before school, and then I would fit some in after school. It's up to you. What you're going to do, though right now is choose the time that you can meet. So maybe you start teaching, let's say from 9:00 to 12:00. And if you would like to start some conferences ahead of time, you could do 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM. Not PM. That's crazy.
If you're having conferences for several weeks, you can have it apply to just the date or to all of those Mondays. I'm going to click Monday. Maybe Tuesday you're completely unavailable. So there's that option or maybe you're meeting in the morning. And then you're also meeting in the afternoon as well. So I'm going to show you how you can do that. Super simple. Choose new interval and then pick the time. So maybe you're teaching until 12:00 or 1:00. Maybe you want to eat some lunch and then you'll continue meeting until 3:30 PM.
If you want to add another interval, maybe you're meeting in the evening as well. There's lots of options. Intervals. Oh, I need to change that to AM. And that's 2:00 PM. Cool. So you'll do that for all your days. I'm not going to do it all for this video, but you get the idea. You'll click next. The video at the bottom of this post will show you if you're a visual learner!
Create questions for your virtual parent conference
Now, what I love about this part is typically maybe you're sending home a conference form that families fill out, send back to you. Maybe you're doing a Google form. Who knows?
What I love about this is that you can include all of this in one place. So you have families and put their name. You can edit it. I don't have them invite additional guests. They can always forward the email to their spouse, grandma, whoever is attending. I like to do first and last name just when you're meeting with parents, maybe you haven't met with these parents before. And then here's the part that I love. New questions. Always, always ask, “What is your child's name or what is the student's name?” Just because maybe their last names aren't the same and you're like, “Who am I meeting with?” And I make sure that that is required.
And then this is where you can ask your questions like, “What is one academic goal?” And I'm doing this quickly. You can make it multiple lines if you want. And then I always ask, “What is one social goal?” And then there's nothing worse … Conferences are a little bit intimidating. They might make you a little bit anxious just because you never know what's going to happen. So I always ask the question, “Is there anything specific you would like to discuss? Please explain.”
That way for me, maybe they're concerned about an assessment or something that's happening out on the playground if you have kids who are face-to-face right now. Who knows? But it might be something that you have no idea about. So that way you get this ahead of time and then it will help you be prepared.
When they go to confirm, this is where they answer all of those questions.
And then once they do that, they will schedule the event and then they will receive that Zoom link, the Google Meet link, whatever link it is straight to their inbox so that they can access it. So this is just one way. This saves me a lot of times scheduling and I think it will save you a lot of time. Like I said, I shared it with teachers inside the Easy Teaching Tools Members Club back in September. But I want share it with you guys too, because it just makes sense right now with conferences and things coming up. One less thing to worry about. Takes 15 minutes to set up, email it out and then it's done.
See parent conference sign ups
You'll go back to your account, you will go to scheduled events. And then here is where you'll have all of your scheduled conferences coming up. And then what's cool. You can export the list if you want so that you can easily keep track of who signed up, who has not signed up. And then if you were to click on it, it will have Zoom links and everything that you need. And then there's a list of all the past people you've met with.
And then let's say we talked about those questions that you could ask, here they go right here. You can see the questions and then you can see the answers. So that will just make it a lot easier. So I can't wait to hear how you use this in your classroom. And if you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out.
Virtual Parent Conference Tutorial
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