Parent-teacher conferences are just around the corner! Conferences are one of those areas where it feels like there's so much to do in so little time. That's why I wanted to share 5 ways to help you feel organized and prepared for conferences instead of overwhelmed.
1. Build Relationships from the Beginning
This may go without saying, but relationships are everything in teaching! And that includes relationships with families.
Behind every student is someone who loves them. Make sure that parent-teacher conferences are not your first contact with students' families. (Some families are hard to get a hold of, so that may be out of your control.)
Making an effort to send something positive about each student a few times a year can go such a long way for the student, their family, and you!
Here are some ways you can build relationships with families through positive communication:
- Every Friday send a positive email home to about 3 different students
- Snap and send a pic of the shoutout a student received from another classmate
- Send a quick note about something positive you saw in class
Positive communication doesn't have to be complicated! A quick note, email, or call can help bridge a relationship between you and your students' families. This can really help families feel comfortable talking to you if their student is struggling because they know you're in their child's corner too. So create a communication schedule in your teacher planner and start communicating!
2. Multiple Forms of Communication
If you are sending home positive communication about each student monthly or every few weeks, hopefully, you have figured out the best way to communicate with that student's family. However, it's no secret that some families are very hard to get a hold of!
When it's conference time, multiple forms of communication are necessary for sign-ups and reminders!
Papers to Send Before Conferences
Let's face it, as digital as our world is, some families are just not very tech-savvy, and some may not have frequent access to the internet. That's why it is always best to send paper information no matter what!
About two weeks before (or whatever your district suggests), send a conference sign-up. This can be a place where you give options of 3 different days/times, and they can rank what works best for their schedule, or they can provide days/times that do and send it back. You can also include a QR or a link to a place they can sign-up online.
Another great thing to send home is a pre-conference survey. This is a place where you can get feedback from parents about what they are hoping to get from the conference and prepare for any questions they may have ahead of time. Super valuable information!
Once you get everyone scheduled, send out a reminder a few days before.
Parent Teacher Confernece Forms
Get parent-teacher conference ready with this editable bundle of forms, surveys, checklists, reflection sheets, parent conference reminders and more! Student-led conference resources are included! English and Spanish versions available.
Now you may be thinking the information above is a little outdated and you and your students' families are 100% on board with digital! In that case, the organization of conference sign-ups is probably a whole lot easier for you!
My number one recommendation for signing families up for conferences is Sign Up Genius! All you have to do is create a schedule of available conferences times and send the link to families. Then they pick the time that works for them! It even sends out a reminder before the conference for you. It's that easy!
3. Student Involvement
Every district is different, and some may require the conference to be strictly between the guardian and the teacher. If that's not the case, have you tried Student-Led Conferences?!
If this is something you are interested in or are already doing, please check out my post on Student-Led Conferences! Giving students the confidence to lead the conference and take ownership of their learning can be such a powerful thing.
Regardless of your conferences format, make your students' voices heard. Before conferences, students fill out:
- Self Relection
- Student Conference Outline
- A Note to My Family
You can easily fit this work in during morning work or stations. Fit it in where it works after you model it!
Try one of these student sheets for FREE!
Here is a freebie just for you to try with your students for parent-teacher conferences! Have them set goals to share with their parents. Sign up below to get these free sheets straight to your inbox!
4. If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
Parent-teacher conferences are all about planning and preparation! Be prepared for anything! Start by creating a folder for each student so all of their information is organized in one place.
Use the Parent Pre-Conference survey to help guide what specific data parents want to see. Then, share your own goals for the student and provide data to back them up. Be prepared to share what this data means to families!
After sharing what you're doing in class to help the student meet their goals, have a list of resources to share with the family. School and home should be a partnership. A list of websites families can access at home is a great place to start. Flashcards for math facts or sight words can be helpful too!
5. Virtual Conferences
Now that virtual meetings are more common don't forget all of the tips above can be done digitally! ALL of the Parent-Teacher Conference Forms can be shared on Google Slides. “Make a Copy” of the slides for the number of students you have and rename “Student Name Conference.” Each student will now have their own digital folder!
The presentation can be shared with families on any virtual learning platform, via email, or by sharing your screen during a Zoom or Teams meeting. If you share the presentation after the conference, I recommend sharing the “View Only” version, so all of the information you input remains.
Parent-teacher conferences don't have to be overwhelming. With just a little preparation and organization you can have a lot of success!
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