Parent Teacher Conferences. Is it just me, or does the thought of that make you nervous? I remember the first time I ran parent teacher conferences during my first year of full-time teaching. I was so nervous and didn’t know where to even begin. Do you know what happened though? It went smoothly. In fact, it went well! All that stress had been for nothing. And here’s how I did it.
The best thing I did to help myself feel at peace on conference night was to send home a form to the parents of my students about a week before the conferences were scheduled. This form gave parents the opportunity to share areas they’d like to focus on during our discussion. Not only did this communicate to parents that I was interested in meeting their needs during the conference, but it also allowed me to prepare for the questions that parents were planning to raise during our meeting.
Below is a picture of a template I’ve created for parents to complete before conference night. As you can see, it gives you a glimpse at the things that parents value, by asking them about their child’s strengths and needs, as well as providing space for concerns the parents would like to address. If you do nothing else to prepare for parent teacher conferences – at least do the initial parent form. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
When you have a chance to see what areas parents would like to focus on beforehand, it makes it much easier to have productive conversations on conference night. Remember, you have limited time for these conversations, so being intentional with where you direct the discussions will be helpful for everyone involved.
To prepare further though, I also filled out my own form for each of my students before the conferences, which highlighted some of the same things that were on the parent form. The image below gives an example of what this can look like. As you can see, this form allowed me to track where students were at academically, as well as focusing on students’ strengths and character goals.
Again, having these forms completed before conference night gave me a helpful starting point for the discussions. It also communicated to parents that I had taken the time to reflect on how their child was going before I spoke with them. This gave me more credibility, as it displayed that I knew their child and knew what I was talking about. It also allowed me to speak about the students with confidence, knowing that I had confirmed where they were sitting academically and had thoroughly reflected on their strengths and character goals.
The final form that I used to help with parent teacher conference organisation was, of course, a schedule. A helpful tip for schedules is to write the parents’ names down before you meet with them. Even if you think you’ll remember them, it can be easy to forget things when you’re feeling under pressure. So, do yourself a favour and have those parent names on standby just in case.
Once you’ve organised a schedule, filled in a form for each of your students and given parents a form to complete, there’s not much left to organise. Now, you’ll be prepared for the fun part – chatting with the parents.
While it may seem a little overwhelming at first, with time, you’ll find it more natural. The preparation you did beforehand will help ease some of that pressure too. All the best as you prepare for your first parent teacher conferences!
I hope you find these tips helpful. If you’d like to save some time by using ready-made parent teacher conference forms, you can find my set of Parent Teacher Conference Forms here.
Do you want some ideas for low-cost student rewards while you’re here? Then have a read through my post on Low Cost Student Reward Ideas.
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P.S. I’d love to hear how my tips and resources are helping you in your teaching, so leave a comment to let me know!