Parent teacher conferences do not need to be stressful, but for many teachers (and parents, too) they are. Will I say the right things? How do I start the conference? How do I tell a parent I’m worried about their child? What if the parent doesn’t like me? How do I convey the love I feel for their child? These are all worries that many teachers have had at some point prior to meeting with parents. These tips for successful parent teacher conferences will help you plan, organize and be confident heading into conference time.
Having been an elementary teacher for over 22 years now and a parent of 4 boys, I can tell you that both teachers and parents have worries when it comes to parent-teacher conferences. It does not not need to be a stressful time, though. With some thought, planning and organization you can have successful parent teacher conferences that are beneficial for everyone involved.
As you mentally prepare for conferences, place yourself in the shoes of the parent(s). Remind yourself that their child is their world. They have a right to be worried, proud, or anxious when it comes to their child and their educational progress.
Successful parent teacher conferences start with preparation and organization. After all, you only have a few short minutes with them. With these tips and ideas, you will be ready, organized, and you will give them your best.
Prepping for a Conference
Teachers, beginners and veterans alike, tend to stress over conference time. What is one of the best ways to take care of stress and anxiety? Preparation and organization. Here are some tips to help you prepare for parent teacher conferences.
1. Think About How You Want to Approach Your Conferences
Begin with the end in mind! Picture a great parent teacher conference in your head. Then work backwards to put into place the things that made it so good.
What will you say to parents? How will you arrange the space? How can you put parents at ease the moment they walk through the door? All of this matters. I have a FREE guide on “What to Do and What Not to Do” that you can download here.
2. Create a Schedule
Carefully plan out your conferences and schedule them via emails or phone calls. Make sure that each student’s parent(s) have a designated time for conferences. Then, the day before parents’ appointments, send home a friendly reminder.
In this day and age with everything digital, sending a digital calendar invite (complete with a built-in reminder) is a great way to help parents remember their scheduled time too.
3. Gather Data
Data and student progress is one of the most important things you will cover during conferences. Take the time to get it organized. If you school does not provide you with a form to you, no worries! I have you covered with a variety of forms to help you present the data in the way that works best for you. Take the time to get all the data organized and written out. This way during the conference you won’t need to search for data or information, it will all be right at your fingertips.
Years ago, I started sharing the simple 4-square form that had important information and goals for each student. Parents responded very well and they loved having something to take home and reference. It helps them to feel that they are part of the education process even if they aren’t in the classroom.
4. Success is in the Details
These extra details will help to make conferences even more rewarding for your students. After all, they are probably a little anxious about their parents meeting with the teacher.
In the hallway outside my door, I have a small table with “Love Letters” and pencils for parents to write a note to be left on their child’s desk. This is a great way for parents to be connected to the classroom.
If I have parents who are not able to come to conferences, I write a note to their child and leave them on their desks, so that nobody feels left out. I also give raffle tickets for a free book from the next book order to everyone attending conferences.
5. Treat Your Parents
Remember that leaving work or scheduling in one.more.activity to a busy week can be stressful for parents. Let them know that you value their time and are appreciative of their attending the conference. Have something fun for them at the end of the conference! They will love you for it! A simple bag of popcorn with a great message is just perfect!
6. No Shows and Missed Appointments
While it can be frustrating when a parent does not show up for the conference, remember that the ultimate goal is sharing about the student. You will want to meet with every, single parent, even if some of those meetings need to be done on the phone. Take the time to call those parents who could not make it. Have a conversation with them about their child. Use a phone log to document who you contacted and take notes.
Ready to Get Organized?
My Parent Teacher Conference Forms Packet is just what you need! It has all of the forms and reminders mentioned above and more! This resource will help you prepare and organize for conferences, so you are more relaxed and better able to be yourself during the time of the actual meeting.
It guides you through the entire process, from gathering data to talking to parents to creating an inviting atmosphere.
You’ll get parent conference forms and tips, a teacher’s guide to stress-free conferencing, tips on communicating positively with parents, and so much more!
Visit the Appletastic Learning store to find all of these forms and more. Everything you need to plan and organize successful parent-teacher conferences in one packet!
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