Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Conference Tips For Teachers

 This week we have parent teacher conferences.  This is the first year that I am sitting on both sides of the table for the SAME conference.  Luke is in my class this year, so I really have a different perspective of what I would like to see in a conference as a parent.  Here are a few of the things that I prepared this week along with a few helpful tips that may help you get through your own conferences.

Let's face it, we all have busy lives and tend to forget things.  I send a notice home to let them know when their conference is scheduled, and then a second follow up reminder. These are the ones I sent home this year:


I found this AMAZING freebie from Jodi Southard from Fun-in First on TpT that had everything I needed already done for me!  Did I mention that it was FREE?  The best part?  Not only is it Free, but it is customizable!

Parent Teacher Conference Forms {FREEBIE} 

Sometimes parent teacher conferences can be just as nerve wrecking (or even more) than our teacher evaluations!  I know that I am sometimes nervous to meet with parents (especially if there have been any issues with their child).  One way to ease those nerves is to remember that the parents are truly your partners.  They have their child's best interest at heart and most likely want to help you to help their child be successful in school.

The best way to open a conference is by sharing an anecdote about the child.  Parents appreciate the fact that you have taken the time to know their child.  A brief story about a comment made during a read aloud, an entry in their writer's notebook, or a compliment about their social interactions on the playground really personalizes the conference and makes it more satisfying for the parents.

If you have pictures to share - they will love them!

                                                       Yep!  That's my Luke's sweet face!

                                                                I love the look on her face!

Next, have the parent share their impressions of how school is going for their child.  Ask them to share what is going well for their child and what they think their child might be struggling with.  Ask them if they have any specific questions they would like to have answered during the conference.

Draw on their expertise when it comes to their child.  If you are having a problem with their child finishing work, you might ask, "Is this a problem at home?  What things seem to help the situation?"

Last year I had a student who had a hard time following directions.  At his parent teacher conference his mom suggested that sometimes he needed extra time to process and think about what you said.  She suggested giving a direction, waiting a minute or two, and then asking him if he remembered what he needed to do.  Once he verbally repeated what my directions were, he would get started.  It was almost like a miracle! 

Don't make snap judgements about parents or their parenting styles even if you have heard rumors from previous teachers.  Face each parent as if they are your ally in working with your student.  Remember, no one is a perfect parent, we each are trying to do the best we can with what we have. I hope I don't judge myself to harshly! :D

If you can, provide parents with resources to help their child including: internet sites, educational apps, and even extra worksheets.  Be creative in coming up with solutions and ways parents can help.

Don't forget to share reading resources as well.  As teachers we tend to throw around reading levels (Fountas & Pinnell, DRA, AR) but forget that this means nothing to the parent.  Have a few books available at the child's independent level to show the parent what it looks like.

 Go into each conference knowing exactly what you want to tell each parent.  I put together a folder of all the important data and work samples that I want to share. I put sticky notes to remind me of places I need to highlight or things I want to remember to tell them about.

Some things I include:

*Report cards
* DRA scores
*MAPS scores
*AR and AM results for the quarter
*Writing samples from the beginning of the year and now
*Student self assessments

I always ask my students to rate how they feel about their performance in school.  They are almost always completely honest, and in some cases even harsher critics than I am!  Jodi has included this form in the freebie as well, and I have shared a few of my student's responses.

What's your best parent-teacher conference or tip?  Tell me about it in the comments below.

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