As a teacher, parent teacher conferences are the least fun part of our job. Who wants to go through grades, classroom work, talking to parents and all that jazz? Definitely no teacher ever. As we approach the first conferences of the year, it is important that teachers go in with plans and ideas. Here are some tips of how to be proactive with creating the best use of your time during parent teacher conferences.
- Be Prepared. The most important piece of conferences is that you are prepared with all the information that you need to give to parents before the conference. Do not be scrambling with finding papers and grades or information to give the parents at the time of the conference. Most teachers have multiple conferences in a row so make sure you have them all in order so you are extremely prepared for each conference, showing how important each conference is.
- Stick to the time limit. Make sure that you are sticking within the time of the allotted conference. This is extremely important because there are always other conferences afterwards and you do not want to keep anyone waiting and then have to cut short their conference. Every student is worth the same amount of time so just make sure you are keeping that in mind when speaking with all conferences.
- Give Parents Handouts. As a parent too, I know that I love receiving information about how to better my kids education. As a teacher, I know that parents need ideas on how to help their child succeed in school, especially parents who know nothing about the education system. The more information you have to help them, the better. For conferences I am giving out reading, writing and math tips for home. I am also giving them a reading list specifically for their childs’ reading lexile.
- Start and End Positive. It is important to begin with a positive and then end the conference with a positive, especially if it is a difficult student. You have no idea what type of home your student is going home to and it’s important to always remain positive while giving the information they need to hear. Sometimes it can be very difficult to find positive things to say about difficult students, it might be a good idea to write some down so that way when it’s a difficult students conference, you know what to say.
- Don’t be afraid to pull in other teachers. Know that it is okay to pull in your principal, vice principal, reading teacher, specialist,e etc. if you feel there are more people who need to intervene with the conference. This is the time to get more professionals involved if you feel that they are needed. Always keep the door open during conferences as well if it is a situation where you think that you might not feel safe with a parent, so make sure that your admin knows this or another teacher, etc.
Good luck teachers with your first round of conferences. Remember, you are a hero to your students and the work that you do does not go unnoticed.