Parent-teacher conferences always seem to sneak up on you, don't they? A quick 15-20 minute conference takes a lot of time to prepare for and then it goes by in a flash! You've met the family, made a connection, discussed the student's progress, answered questions, explained your classroom management, goals, expectations, and phewwww….you know the drill! There's a lot to pack in, so being prepared is essential. I have a few tips for preparing for conferences and what to do before, during, and after conferences to stay organized and (hopefully) keep parents well informed.
Being prepared for parent-teacher conferences is so important. Conferences are usually short and time flies once you sit down and start talking. Staying organized is so important so that your time with students' families is productive. Try to be as prepared as you can and keep a list of things to do before, during, and after your parent-teacher conferences.
- Send home a survey to families so you know topics that they would like to discuss. Having an idea ahead of time will help you prepare and gather any information that you need to answer questions.
- Have students fill out a student reflection page to share at the conference. This will give families a chance to see things from the child's perspective and might be helpful in answering some of the questions from the survey that you sent home.
- Send home reminders for the date and time of the conference just in case families are unaware of when their scheduled conference is. This also prevents emails and phone calls to double-check dates and times.
- Create a folder for parents to take home (file folder or large envelope). Include examples of the student's work, report card, and any other important information. Having a folder ready with work samples and pages to refer to comes in handy while you are conferencing. You can use the survey that you sent home to pull work to show examples of things mentioned on the survey.
- Prepare a sign for the door to let everyone know if you are ready or if you are still meeting with another family. You don't want anyone coming in while you are still in a conference!
- If your conferences are close together and you will have families waiting, you can make a small station where they can write notes to their child or wishes for the classroom. If you have devices in your classroom, you can have family members leave a note and a funny selfie on their child's device. Your students will LOVE coming in the next day to find a funny selfie of their grown-ups!!
- Cover questions and concerns that families wrote in their survey.
- Share student work and any reports necessary.
- You can also send families home with their child's portfolio or folder of work and reports, including the student reflection. It is nice to have something to give families to take away from the conference, but it isn't necessary.
- Take quick notes about the conversation so that you do not forget. It's important to document important points of the conversation. When you are meeting with so many families in such a short time, it's easy to forget things you discussed.
- Send a thank you note to the adults that attended.
Family communication really is SO important! Communication is the key to building relationships that foster student success.
I hope this helps as you prepare to meet with your students’ families during parent-teacher conferences…I know that conference days are long days, but they are such a wonderful way to build relationships with families that will help with student success throughout the year. Your hard work and long hours are so appreciated!
I have put together a complete pack of parent-teacher conference forms, checklists, parent pages, teacher pages, and more…just for you! I hope that this is helpful as you prepare, conduct, and unwind from parent-teacher conferences.