10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

At the beginning of the year, when we get the school calendar, I immediately circle two dates: Meet the Teacher Night and Parent Teacher Conferences. After teaching for 18 years, I still get a bit nervous for both!

I do love parent-teacher conferences, even though I get a bit nervous! I love meeting with parents and families and working together to make the school year one filled with goal setting, accomplishments, and growth. After many years of planning and prepping to make parent-teacher conferences run smoothly, I have compiled a list of 10 must-do tips to help make any parent-teacher conference a success!

Try one or all 10 of these tips to make your next parent-teacher conference a success!

1. Create a warm environment.

Dim the lights, turn on a lamp, and play soft music to help set the mood for your conference. I have found that meeting at a table in the room is a great way to be a bit more personal versus sitting at your desk. I always have a hot water pot on and offer parents and family members a cup of tea to welcome them and help them feel relaxed before beginning our conversation.

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

2. Celebrate your students and their work.

Display recent student writing, work, and projects around the classroom. Parents love to take a few minutes to see their child's work in action! Don't forget to snap pictures throughout the year of students working in your classroom. Display those for your parents to see, too! The pictures and work you display will show how much you care for your students and give you some great talking points, too.

3. Create a class collaborative book.

I love to create class books and leave them in the hallway for parents to read and look through as they wait for their conference time. it can be a collection of student writing or a simple photograph introduction book. To do this, I simply take a photo of each student, and then they write a few sentences about themselves. This is always a hit! Parents love to see their child's classmates. When conference time is over, this class book earns a permanent spot in our classroom library.

4. Be prepared and organized, and start with a positive.

Use forms and data sheets to be prepared and organized. Sort your paperwork in the order of your conferences so that each child's conference folder is at your fingertips at the start of each conference. Starting with a positive comment about each child is a great way to show parents what an important part of the class their child is. You can start by celebrating any aspect of the child, no matter how small the compliment is, parents are always excited to hear something nice about their child. A simple, your child's smile brightens the room, is enough to kick off the conference on a positive note.

5. Use student-completed forms to kick off your conference!

Keep student work and student-completed reflections in your conference folders. I love kicking off each conference by reading and sharing student reflections about the year, their work, and their progress. There are so many positive talking points that help us start off the conference on the right foot. 

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

6. Be honest.

Always be honest with students' academic and behavioral progress, sharing any concerns that you have.  If there is an area for improvement, be sure to share that with parents. You will want to start with a positive, but then be sure to share your concerns.

7. Take good notes.

Be an active listener during your conference and take notes on the discussion that you have. The notes you take will come in handy as the year progresses and can be referred to the next time you meet about that child. If you do not want to write your notes while the parent is there, be sure to record the notes and thoughts that you have as soon as they leave. Grab these FREE parent forms to keep track of parent communication throughout the year.

8. Invite a colleague.

I always invite support staff to attend the conferences of students who receive support.  It is nice to have another staff member on hand to help answer questions and offer additional insight into the student's growth and areas for improvement. Having an additional staff member attend is also good because they serve as a witness to the conversation. Ex: If you have a student who receives reading support, invite the reading specialist. 

9. Be sure to follow up!

I love sending thank you notes to parents and families who attend the conference. You can send just a quick thank you with any follow-up information that they requested or you can simply just write your own personal message about the conference. If you do include information about a question that parents asked during the conference, be sure to make a copy of the letter that you send home for your own records.

10. Relax, you are done!

Now that conferences are done, celebrate! Enjoy your favorite cup of coffee or treat yourself to something you have been eyeing...you deserve it!

These easy-to-implement tips will make your parent-teacher conferences run smoothly and help you to set the tone that working with parents and families to help students succeed is your number goal. Whether you try one or all ten of these tips, I wish you a happy parent-teacher conference season!

Grab the Parent Teacher Conference Pack HERE.

10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

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10 Must Try Tips for Parent Teacher Conferences

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