Parent-teacher conferences are an essential part of the school year. Preparing for and conducting these conferences can sometimes be a bit challenging. It’s natural to feel a mix of excitement and nervousness!
Remember, parent teacher conferences are not just an opportunity to inform parents about academic achievements; they’re a chance to build meaningful partnerships, share successes, and address challenges collaboratively.
From creating a warm and inviting atmosphere to handling difficult conversations with grace, here are 15 reminders and tips for running successful parent-teacher conferences.
15 Tips for Successful Parent Teacher Conferences
1. Schedule parent teacher conferences well in advance: Allow parents ample time to prepare. Consider offering both daytime and evening slots to accommodate different schedules.
2. Send multiple reminders: Be sure to send parents a reminder a conference reminder a week beforehand. Send another reminder on the day before their scheduled conference.
3. Prepare a welcoming conference area: Set up your classroom or meeting space to be inviting and comfortable. Grab a few adult-sized chairs so that parents don’t have to sit in tiny chairs.
4. Start and end on time: Start and end each conference on time to respect parents’ schedules. Prepare a timer or clock to help you stay on track.
5. Have student work samples ready: Gather data and examples of each student’s work to illustrate their progress. Be ready to share specific achievements and areas where improvement is needed. Even sharing a recent exit ticket to show parents can be a great visual! Use these math exit tickets to quickly assess in kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade!
6. Find out parent concerns ahead of time: When parents schedule a conference, give them a chance to send in any questions or concerns ahead of time. This will give ample time to prepare appropriately.
7. Highlight student strengths first: Always, always, always start by sharing student strengths. Share a few positive things to celebrate, whether it be academically, socially, or behaviorally.
8. Share specific examples of progress: Grab formal and informal assessments, before and after samples, etc. If you’re a K-3 teacher, grab these free math skills goal sheets below! You can read more about them on this blog post!
Download the FREE GOAL SHEETS!
9. Offer actionable suggestions: Parents need ideas of how they can help their child. Give specific examples of games or activities they can do at home to help their child.
10. Avoid jargon and acronyms: While you could repeat all the educational acronyms in your sleep, parents do not know them. As a quick example, my friend had to ask me what her son’s teacher meant when the schedule said, “OG” on it. I told her it stood Orton-Gillingham and briefly explained the OG approach to literacy instruction. As teachers, we know there are SO many, so do everyone a favor and avoid unnecessary jargon that’s going to complicate what you’re trying to share with parents.
11. Collaborate on goals: Collaborate with parents to establish clear and achievable goals for their child. Ensure these goals are specific and measurable. Use the free math goal sheets above to help!
12. Explain student support services: Parents may not know all the differentiation that takes place in your classroom. Share specific ways you meet their child exactly where they need, whether it’s through reading small groups, math groups, leveled activities, etc.
13. Encourage communication: Encourage ongoing communication between parent teacher conferences. Share your contact information and preferred method of communication, so parents feel comfortable reaching out when necessary.
14. Take notes during all parent teacher conferences: Keep a copy handy so you have a record of what was discussed during the conference.
15. Offer to meet again if needed: If you run out of time and feel like there’s more to discuss, schedule a follow-up conference. Don’t leave your next conference waiting!
I hope you’re able to use these tips help you navigate the parent teacher conferences with ease and confidence! And in case no one has told you recently, you’re doing a great job!