Top Parent-Teacher Conference Tips for Teachers
Parent/teacher conferences build trust and set the stage for cultivating a positive long-term partnership with parents and students. With a little planning, you can confidently demonstrate to parents you value their child’s unique strengths, and together you will help their child succeed in school and life.
- During the weeks leading up to your first conference, prep notes, comments, and gather representative assignments of each student’s work.
- Will students be involved during the conference? If so, plan plenty of class time for portfolio preparation, goal setting and practice before parents arrive.
- Send a note home the week before inviting parents to share their specific thoughts, concerns and questions so you can be prepared.
- Make it as easy as possible for parents to sign up for their conference spots and remind them.
- TIP: Skip the back-pack Pony Express and reply-all email this year and use VolunteerSpot’s free and easy online Parent-Teacher Conference Scheduler. Simple online signups and automated reminder messages save time (and stress) organizing parents.
- If your student’s parents can’t physically make it for a face-to-face conference, offer reasonable alternatives — perhaps you can schedule a call before school or after the work day ends? For tech-savvy parents, schedule a virtual face-to-face meeting using Skype or FaceTime.
- Think about how you can help parents support their child’s learning outside the classroom. Create a list of educational resources (books, websites and apps, special programs, etc.), then highlight specific ones that are a good match for each student.
- BONUS TIP: Pack snacks for conference days! Granola bars, water, caffeinated beverages. Conferences move quickly; keep yourself hydrated and blood sugar balanced!
Respect everyone’s busy schedule by starting and ending on time. Share a quick agenda at the start of the conference so parents are aware of what you will cover together and what the timing of the conference will be. Keep a count-down timer handy with a gentle alert 5 minutes prior to the conference end time.
The conference is as much an opportunity for you to learn from parents as it is for them to learn from you. Start on a positive note asking for parents’ impressions of the school year, their hopes and goals for their child. Share several specific examples of the child’s strengths and successful performance on assignments as well as positive social interactions with peers and adults. Choose one or two opportunities for improvement tied to skills and standards appropriate for your grade. Seek feedback, listen actively, and together with parents map out steps for achieving goals.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask:
- Is there anything you should know that would help you serve their child better, such as particular study habits or other special abilities or needs?
- Without prying, ask parents to keep you informed about home situations can affect their child’s learning and school work (e.g. family illness, divorce, job loss).
- Invite parent participation – what special talents, hobbies or family traditions might they be interested in sharing with your class? Maybe there is a parent who is an artist, gardener, computer specialist, or from a foreign country your class will be studying….
- Encourage parents to explore opportunities for volunteering in the classroom. If they are unable to by physically present, put them in touch with the room parent for discussing ideas to help from home.
End by Confirming Confidence:
Genuinely thank parents for taking the time to meet with you and reinforce that you will work with them and their student to ensure a successful year for all!
To encourage ongoing communication, share a small handout with your key contact information and resources for parents – your email, phone, class website, Pinterest board, educational websites, online tutorial links, etc.
These tips are brought to you by the folks at VolunteerSpot, who know that volunteering in the classroom and at school helps both teachers and students succeed. Easy parent/teacher conference scheduling and free online signup sheets by VolunteerSpot do away with “reply-all” email and make it easy for more parents to pitch in and participate at school, teams, Scouts and in the community! If you have tips for making parent/teacher conference scheduling easier, let us know in the comment section.
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