Breeze Through Your Conferences With Parents!
Is it that time of year again? Parent Teacher Conferences are sometimes treaded by first year teachers and students. It can be another stressful routine in a teacher’s job, if they are not organized and prepared. We hope this page will help make the parent conference run smoothly for you. We have hunted for useful tips from teachers and placed them on this page. We have also added useful links to hand-outs that you may wish to supply to your parents. If you are prepared your conference time will fly by!
I am always looking in various places for tips and ideas from teachers. Below you will find a forever growing list of conference tid bits from generous teachers!
Parents-Teacher Conferencing Tips
I always like to have a table and two chairs set outside of my room. This becomes a waiting area. On the table I place a bowl of candy, a class book we have made, and some pictures of classroom activities. The parents are more than happy to wait a little bit longer for their conference if they have all these goodies to entertain them.
Before conferences I make sure my files on the students are up to date. I also start to fill out a preconference sheet on each student. This is just an organized form that helps me remember what I would like to discuss with the parents. This form is also used during the conference for notes. I have the students fill out a report card on themselves. They also write a goal for the year. I take about five min. with each student to go over their evaluations. We discuss them and their goals. I also show/tell the students what I will be showing and discussing with their parents.
I greet the parents at the door. I show them where to sit at the table and then I sit down next to them rather than across from them. Before I start talking, I tell the parents to feel free to stop me at anytime with questions or comments. I always start with student strengths and end with a student strengths. I discuss each subject and their performance in the subjects. I go over any assessments (second graders take a reading assessment). I give them a reading strategies bookmark, a fact practice sheet, a copy of the grade level essential learnings, and a list of helpful websites. Often I will have a parent say, “What are some ways to help Sarah with her Spelling?” 0r “John has a hard time getting his homework done?” I answer these questions and also reach into my prepared file of typical questions and pull out a tips sheet that the parents can take home. I also hand them a project we have just finished – one the student did a great job on. I end the conference repeating the important information we have discussed. For example: It was great talking with you today. I really enjoy having Zack in my class. I will go ahead and look into possible tutors for his math as we discussed and you will work with him nightly on his math homework. His goal for this quarter is to raise his math grade. I am confident that we can help him accomplish this. Do you have any questions or more concerns?”
I always hand out a bookmark with the reading strategies on it, a list of ways to encourage reading, a math fact practice tip sheet, and a list of websites that are helpful to children and parents. I also have the
students fill out a self evaluation of their classroom learning (this can be printed for free off the site – you will find it under grading and student evaluation – student report card. Based on their evaluations we establish goals. I share these with the parents and the parents add to the goals. I make sure to have a pre made form ready to take notes on. Here are some free resources online that you may wish to use too-
http://www.juliehicks.com/childrentelevision.html – a cute poem about children and TV
http://www.ed.gov/pubs/parents/hyc.html – these would make great handouts – The Helping Your Child publication series aims to provide parents with the tools and information necessary to help their children succeed in school and life. These booklets feature practical lessons and activities to help their school aged and preschool children master reading, understand the value of homework and develop the skills necessary to achieve.
http://www.time4teachers.com/Exchange/RXDocs/Reading%20Article%20for%20Parents.PDF – How to help your child become a great reader
http://edtech.sandi.net/literacy/3.6/bookmark/goodreaders.pdf – free bookmark to print
http://www.teachingheart.net/indexofc.html – if you follow this link and scroll to conferences you will see a free conference sheet.
http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-9243.html – Find activities for parents to help promote their child’s academic growth in each grade level and subject area.
http://www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-2872.html – An index of basic skills taught, student attributes, and ways parents can help students in grades K through 12.
http://www.teachervision.com/tv/resources/PDF/GOOD_TV_K_2_pdf_s/62176_S-HRCd_04.pdf – Help families establish good reading habits.
http://www.teachervision.com/tv/resources/PDF/GOOD_TV_K_2_pdf_s/62176_S-HRCd_09.pdf – Advice to parents on setting some homework parameters.
http://www.teachervision.com/tv/printables/086586263X_90.pdf A Simple Conference Documentation Form
http://www.loveandlogic.com/Media/threetypes.pdf – Love and Logic Type of Parent
http://www.loveandlogic.com/Media/whatis.pdf What is Parenting with Love and Logic
http://www.loveandlogic.com/Media/goldh.pdf – Turn Your Words Into Gold
I copy the Informal Teacher Inventory we use at my school and highlight the skills/concepts that we are covering but the child hasn’t mastered yet. That way the parents know exactly what they need to be working on at home, and can take the copy with them for reference. For the children I feel might not make it this year, I also send a copy of the State Standards so that the parents can see I’m not just making up this curriculum.
I created my own. It listed math and reading chapter test scores (we’re required to give the tests). I then had items like: knows _____ of 9 colors, knows _____ of 26 sounds, knows _____ of 54 letters, can write first name correctly Y N, knows _____ sight words. Each of those items then included “below at above expectations” and I circled the appropriate one. The next section was based on our reading series: I listed each specific letter the series taught so far in both upper and lowercase and circled the ones the student could identify the name of. Then I listed them again just in lowercase and circle the ones they knew the sounds of. Then I listed each sight word taught so far and circle the ones they know. The last section was on effort and behavior. Each of those include “doing well needs improvement” and a space for comments. I also included some general comments at the end regarding goals, specific letters
or sounds that child could be working on, etc…. I made a photocopy of each once filled out. I had the parent sign one that went in the student’s portfolio and they took home the 2nd.
What is your format for parent-teacher conferences?
Our school does it this way: Report cards are given to parents at the conference at our school so we have that to discuss. (In other schools the report card is given out the week before.) I put out materials for each student on their desk. If you are in a lower grade, I have student portfolios of work to show the parents. I have a table in the classroom (round) and we sit there to conference. I had a waiting area of two chairs in the hall. There I put cookies, water, children’s books, my lesson plan books and 4 blocks books. Some parents come from work, some bring children, I want to make them comfortable. I stick to the 15 minutes allotted. In the hall are bulletin boards so kids work is displayed there. In the past, I also had a vcr there with video of the class available for viewing. When I taught kindergarten and prep, I did video portfolios as well as sample portfolios so those went home each quarter and were given to the parents at the end of the year. With younger kids, I also would send home a questionnaire for parents to gel their thinking. These were returned to me ahead of the conference so I had some idea of the parents’ specific interests and concerns. I prepped and covered those points. I had available journals and writing folders to show process as well as product. Some parents went through the report card grade by grade or talking about certain grades. I had my grading records available so I could, at a glance, account for the grades….late work, incomplete, or could not demonstrate an understanding of this or that concept. In my book, I am able to list each page, the date and concept taught. Our conferences are held one afternoon into the evening and the next morning to noon. Ours were last Thurs. and Fri. after a half day Thurs. No school Fri. This was one week after the quarter ended, so the teachers had time to do the report cards. We conference, everyone the first conference and other quarters as requested by parent or teacher. Our special ed. person was also present at the conference. That person has to do major coordination to sit in on conferences school-wide due to the conference schedules of all her students being at same times. I always start with positive things and end with positive things to say/do with the student. I ask questions to present difficult information: “Do you have anything you do at home that is effective in getting Henry to do his chores that I could use at school to help him move along to complete his work?” “Does Nancy get angry when things don’t go her way at home?” I had the computer on an AR test to show the parents how that are done if that might have been a question. The room was clean and organized. Some teachers have students tidy up desks. I do not. I think parents need to see, perhaps what might be contributing to a disorganized student’s not staying on task or inability to do neat work. I usually get “It’s the same as his room at home.” Then we think of a strategy to work on together. I like to stress togetherness/teamwork, including the student as the most important team member. I also validate the parents and how much I appreciate what they do. I also cannot stress enough my availability to talk at times other than conferences. You have to also get to know the parents and feel your way at the first conference if you do not know them. Use your people skills and respond to them. Watch your body language and theirs. Listen. You want to make it better for the student, not worse. Some parents may take a negative comment and run too far with it and what was a small need for a student may turn into a big brouhaha between parent and child or you and parent. The 15 minute conference goes fast. I did put a “meeting” listed on my schedule after one parent I thought might give problems. It worked! I moved her to the door, went down the hall and was going to disappear for the next 10 minutes for a break out of sight, but I happened to run into a great parent of another student who wanted to mention something about her child, so I returned with her to the room and we had a “meeting.” This is an alliance building time…conference time. It can be enjoyable. The parents, other teachers, students, all, don’t always know what to expect. It’s something they don’t necessarily teach in teacher school. Take care and good conferencing to you!!!!!!!!!!!……………………….
POSTED BY SUE