I think there is a lot of anxiety surrounding parent teacher conferences. I know that I get really nervous especially if there are areas of concern with specific children. You never know how guardians are going to react to news or if you say something the wrong way. As a teacher at the end of the day though, it should not worry you – it does help a lot to have a game plan before the conference starts. It helps ease my mind a ton!
The week of conferences I start to pull data together in order to have everything that I need and be ready. Each child gets a paper folder that I include all of their conference items in. It is very important that whatever you include in the folder to send home you make a copy of. That way parents can’t come back at you and tell you that they weren’t warned, made aware, or the plethora of other things parents try to put on us. I run everything through our ecopy machine at school and scan it into my harddrive.
As teachers we love data, we need it, but parents don’t know or care so much about the scores they’re getting on standardized test scores. They want to be reminded that their kid is amazing, that you know them & they are getting what they need during the day.
Another thing that my mom told me that really stuck with me the first year I had to do conferences and was nervous about them ; she said, if there is anything new that you are telling the parents that they are going to be blindsided by, you are not doing your job.
Throughout the year you should be contacting families and parents about good and bad things that are occurring, by the time conferences come around it should be a catch up and review. If this is the first time they’ve heard of it you need to do a better job of letting parents know before. There should be more than 2 contacts home throughout the year. Same goes the other way, parents shouldn’t be blindsiding you because if there are issues arising they should be contacting you the same way.
Not that it can’t happen but it did help to ease my mind and is a good reminder to myself that I need to do this more often.
The last thing before I dive into the actual content I share – keep it simple!! You don’t have to make anything crazy or try to take up the whole time, allow it to be more conversation and share your insight and ask for parents feedback.
House keeping items :
- Share testing data in case they want it. I don’t dive too deep into it and remind parents this is one snapshot of data. I may use it to reinforce that they’re where they should be or making progress in the right direction, or this may be an area that we need more work in.
- Include their daily reading logs and how many quizzes they have completed. We have a trimester goal and I share if they’re on target to hit that or if they need to work on their reading at home.
Sample work :
- Once they get to upper elementary they stop bringing things home to share because they don’t care about them. I try to include a few different samples of work. This trimester I am including a 5 minute multiplication timed test, their last unit math test, and a writing New Years Goals project.
Student Reflections :
- I got a cute TPT self reflection for students to fill out on how they think they’re doing with the year. It is a simple smiley face grading scale and I share with parents how they view themselves. And either agree or disagree with the statements they chose. Typically students know how well they’re doing and what they need to work on.
- I have a separate sheet that I use for myself to fill out some of the data that I shared beforehand but on one easy to read hand out.
- On this sheet I rundown what we’re currently working on in class.
- I also share daily homework expectations reminders, good apps to use at home, and additional areas of focus for students.
My reflection :
- On the back of the notes sheet I write down 3 areas of strength for the student and 1-3 areas to focus on. I never say they are weaknesses or problems, but simply something we need to put more energy into.
- I have to do this for myself because I also know what I want to say and then the conference comes and I blank. Or I catch myself saying the same things for each of the students.
That’s it! Again, I keep it really light because the parents don’t care about all the extra fluff – they get a lot of artwork from them or see what’s posted & graded. They want to know more socially how they’re doing, if they are happy being at school, and if they’re kind. Don’t stress it – some of my conferences are seriously 5 minutes long and I spend the other time talking because I just have to tell parents, “you’re kid is great, I love them & they are right where they need to be”.
If you’re nervous about a specific one, get in touch with your principal, VP, counselors, or other professionals at the school so they can be included in the meeting as well. If it gets heated just simply say “this is no longer productive, so let’s pick this back up in a week when we’ve both had time to think on it”. Or suggest you finish it in the principal’s office.
Share what you do for conferences in the comments!