Turn parent-teacher conferences from chaotic to constructive with these suggestions.Sep 20, 2022
Many teachers loathe parent-teacher conferences — not because they don’t want to talk about their students, but because it’s exhausting to prepare for and execute 20-plus conferences in one week. Here are the top tips for how to ensure that parent-teacher conferences are worthwhile for all parties involved.
Conduct a Parent Survey
Asking parents to complete a survey before the conference may seem like adding one more task to an already-hectic process. On the contrary, a simple survey can help you get an idea of what topics are important to parents, which can help you focus your preparation on areas of concern.
With this knowledge, you’ll also be prepared to address specific concerns a parent might have, which can yield a more productive conference for you and for parents. If you choose to conduct a survey, tech tools like Google Forms can keep the process simple and efficient.
Set the Stage for Productivity
Help parents feel welcome with seating that’s appropriate for adults, preferably at a table where papers can be passed between you and the parents with ease. Creating a designated place for children who may need to tag along also gives parents the opportunity to focus on the conference without needing to worry about keeping a close eye on kids.
Start With Positivity
A productive parent-teacher conference is one where parents are receptive to the feedback you provide. That’s why it’s essential to start the conference by telling parents something positive about their child, such as why you enjoy having them in your class or highlighting one of their achievements. This sets a positive tone for the conference and helps you build trust with parents from the start, creating a foundation for discussing more difficult topics later on.
Have Something to Show
Having examples of a student’s work can help parents better understand how their students are progressing, as well as where they need extra support. Cut down on heavy pre-conference prep work by starting a portfolio for each student at the beginning of the term that includes assignments, exams, and other items that can be used to demonstrate the student’s progress. Then, when it’s time for conferences, the materials you need are at the ready.
Stick to a Schedule
Parent-teacher conferences are short — typically between 10 and 30 minutes in length. That means every minute counts! Consider creating an agenda you can use for each conference that allots time for each area you need to address. Then, be diligent about sticking to it. A free downloadable conference form can help you plan what you want to say, and provides a framework to keep each conference on schedule and on topic.