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Parent teacher conferences can be an anxiety-ridden process for both parents and teachers (not to mention students). Here are some guiding tips to make the experience a positive one. Before school-wide conference time, be proactive: If a student is struggling, don’t wait! The sooner you open the li

Oct 04, 2016

Parent teacher conferences can be an anxiety-ridden process for both parents and teachers (not to mention students). Here are some guiding tips to make the experience a positive one.


Before school-wide conference time, be proactive: If a student is struggling, don’t wait! The sooner you open the lines of communication with the parent, the better. The formal conferences can be your first follow-up after trying modifications of which the parent is already aware. Consider giving parents the opportunity to complete a questionnaire. It might prevent a parent concern from surprising you during the conference.

Pro tip: Make your life easier and go paperless. Use an online website or app to collect responses.

As you prepare, planning is paramount. First, decide the allotted time for each conference. Allocate minutes toward critical components. Advanced organization is the key, as time moves quickly. Prepare notes regarding both academic and social achievement, which should include summaries of current skills, victories, and a goal. Choose an organizational strategy (Pinterest is a great start) for presenting each student’s evidence and intervention plan.

Pro tip: Include a conference note-taking form for accuracy of documentation, carefully selected work samples, and talking points specific to that child (either on the form, Post-Its etc..).

On conference day, remember the power of positivity. This child is the most important thing to their parents. They need to see that their child is important and special to you, as well. Stick to your pacing. Start by thanking them for their time and indicate you value it. If a child’s academic or social skills indicate the need for a growth plan, use parents as partners. Be solutions-based and, when necessary, have one targeted goal, “Let’s work on this ____.” With difficult students, initially choose something very achievable to build the partnership. Take bigger bites later. Agree on a measurable plan that both you and the parents can follow through on.

Pro tip: If a parent is a talker, (and you likely already know), a statement like, “I’m excited to hear updates from you. Let’s get through the conference information and hopefully we will have time at the end,” may help.

Finally, post-conference follow through is critical. All parents should feel they have an ongoing connection with you. Promises for struggling students need to be kept; plan to conference again soon if it is indicated. Did you agree to behavior reports weekly or an update about homework, missing assignments, and the like? Adhere to the plan, which will show the child you and their parents are on the same page. Most importantly, they will see that you value their education by having an effective and ongoing partnership.

Pro tip: Build your parent-teacher relationship by thanking them within a few days. Don’t miss an opportunity for a positive phone call or an email to each parent with a takeaway from the conference that helps them feel that you listened.

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