So. You’re starting to roll in those parent-teacher conferences on your schedule, and you’re starting to wonder….what in the WORLD are we going to talk about, and how can I prepare?
I remember in the days leading up to my first conferences, veteran teachers were constantly slipping things into our conversations like “Gotta get my conference copies now before it gets crazy on conference day,” or “Ready for conferences a week early for the first time ever!”
Even though I’d usually nod knowingly and say, “Yeah, me too,” I had no idea what they were printing or gathering or prepping…report cards? Test scores? Behavior reports that I didn’t have? I was too scared to ask but also feeling like I was going to walk into these conferences feeling naked. Well, not naked. But you know what I mean.
Now, I’m about to give you a list, but let me be honest: after doing these more than a few times, you don’t actually have to have anything printed out in order to have a conference. The important thing is to have a dialogue with the student’s family about the student. So if your conferences are in a half hour and you’re feeling that panic setting in, breathe. You can have productive parent-teacher conferences without physical “stuff.”
But if you have a couple days or hours before parent-teacher conferences, it might help for you to spend some time gathering some things to help illustrate what you’ll talk about at the conference. It will make you feel more relaxed, as well as providing a third “point,” or place to focus. Rather than everything being based on talk and what you claim to see, you can have real numbers and data to point to and discuss–that’s powerful stuff.
Depending on the student’s situation, I’d recommend preparing a few different things.
Preparing for Parent-Teacher Conferences
For all students, I recommend bringing:
- Latest grades and report card, and if applicable, the latest test scores
- Examples of student work to show student’s strengths and weaknesses (always start with strengths!)
- Some ideas on how they can improve at home or in school (even if this student is a top-performer)
- Optional and helpful: A student reflection of their own progress and goals: academic, social, and behavioral. You can find a template for that in our Engaging Families and Rocking Conferences mini-course.
- Optional: Handout with useful class and team information – again, available in our Engaging Families and Rocking Conferences course.
For conferences where you have concerns:
- A bit of a script for how to bring up the problem:
- “While _____ is very strong with ______, I’ve noticed they’ve been struggling a bit with _____. For example, _______.”
- Other students’ work (names blocked out) in order to show parents/guardians and explain your concerns. Some teachers recommend an example of a high-scoring work and an average example.
- A record of all the ways you/the school have tried to address the concern already (interventions, scaffolding, contacts home, involvement of support staff, etc.)
- Some questions to ask the parent:
- Have they seen this problem before?
- What has worked in the past?
- Do they have ideas as to what might be contributing to the problem?
- Some ideas as to:
- How parents/guardians can help their child at home
- An new action plan for during class–or what you’d like to propose
For conferences where you have no concerns about a student:
- A couple ways you’ve been challenging this student beyond what’s expected
- Opportunities, activities, ideas, or resources that parents/guardians can encourage in order to challenge the student outside of school
For conferences where you don’t feel physically or emotionally safe with the parent/guardian
- Request an administrator, team member, or other faculty member to attend with you
- Bring all related documentation about the student: scores, grades, interventions you’ve done, ALL family contact (with dates and times), student work, etc.
- Be ready to:
- Continue to orient the conference back to how you all can work together to help the child be successful
Don’t forget to pin this for future parent-teacher conferences!
While those are my best recommendations for what to bring, remember: even if you don’t have everything above, you can still have a productive conference.
But if you’ve got the time, these all can come in real handy to rock it.
If you want more tips, templates, and ready-to-go family handouts, check out our course, Engaging Families and Rocking Conferences, available now on Teachable.
It’s completely self-paced and designed to answer allll those little questions buzzing in your head about conferences and developing good relationships with families (What’s the best way to handle angry parents and guardians? How do you increase communication while not spending all day every day contacting families?).
Best part? It includes 12 pages of ready-to-go logs and handouts you can use in your classroom tomorrow for family communication AND over 100 ideas and suggestions for fostering positive family relationships.
By spending 5-10 minutes every day on the course, in 2-3 weeks you’ll leave with a brand new mindset and toolbox on how to use family relationships as a way to improve every other arena in your classroom. Want to check it out? Click here!
**Don’t miss this week’s Pay-as-you-Want opportunity, where you choose a fair price for the course to make it accessible to you and help us keep pumping out resources that are useful to you. Go ahead. We trust you.**
Good luck with conferences! Remember, you’re going to rock it. Let me know what else you’d recommend or questions you have in the comments below.
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