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Parent Teacher Conferences

Compiled By: Editor

Preparing for and managing parent teacher conferences

Parent Conferences
Posted by: superteach113

A coworker years ago gave me some advice for conferences. Always begin the conference with something positive about the child and ease into the things that are concerns, always be honest without being negative, and if you see the conference going into a direction you feel you can't handle, stop it and call in someone in adminstration to help.

This advice has helped me through all my years teaching.

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Parent Conference Agenda
Posted by: GB

You probably have about 15 minutes, so sort of plan it out. Have the student's file ready when the parents arrive.

Start out with a positive snippet about the child.

Go through language arts and their child's progress. Explain some things you do in the classroom, with examples of their child's work. Briefly hit on some things coming up within the next quarter.

Do the same with mathematics, showing test copies and reiterating important concepts their child needs to have mastered and what will be introduced/reviewed the rest of the year.

I keep a notebook in my lap open to their child's name. It has notes of things I want to be sure that I discuss during the meeting, including discipline issues if any. I keep it in my lap as to not let the parent sit there and read it while I talk. It may have notations/documentations that I don't necessarily want them to see.

Intermittantly ask if they have questions and wrap up by asking if they have any final questions. Only ask this 2 or 3 times during the meeting.

Your 15 minutes are up!!

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Parent Conference
Posted by: Mrs. A

Remember that how a parent feels will directly affect the child. Parents will feels secure and work with a teacher when they feel confident that the teacher likes their child AND has a plan to help the child. Similarly, when a teacher is only negative, the parents feel anxious and stressed. Who suffers? The child.
As a teacher, it is your job to remain positive: have a plan. Right now, your plan is to (1) call in the experts (special ed), who will evaluate this child and work with you to help her; (2) communicate this plan to the parent in a positive, non-accusatory way and to enlist her help.
Also, with a child this far behind, and with possible attention challenges, even simple homework can seem totally overwhelming. Encourage the mom to play very easy math games for not more than five minutes a day for a while (for example, one night, line up 10 skittles or m&m's, count backward while eating one by one; another night, can you sort a random number of the candies into groups of two with no leftovers? If so, you have an even number/if not, odd; eat!). Why do such a little amount at such a basic level? So that the student and the parent can start to experience success and have fun with math. With a student so far behind, celebrate every success and focus on little steps. Be confident! You are on the right track and seeking the special help it sounds like this student needs!

Conference Scheduling
Posted by: Sue W

We have 3 sections of grades K-5 with conferences twice each year. About 3 weeks before conferences information and a sign up form are sent home with the oldest child in each family, informing the parents of the dates and times. We try to have appropriate language forms available for non-English speaking homes. We usually have two afternoon/ evening sessions(usually after a full day of teaching) and one morning/afternoon session. Parents are asked to choose all general time slots they could attend; 8-12 am, 12-3pm, 3-6pm or 6-8pm. The actual conferences are 15 minutes in length with 5 minutes between. The form also asks them to write the name and class of any siblings and if they want to see any specialists, such as physical education, music, etc. Then we have a scheduling session of all teachers and specialists. Each of us has returned family time requests and a form with all 15 minute conferences labeled. First we schedule those conferences needing interpreters at times they are available; Spanish, Cambodia, Sudaness, American Sign. Then we start with the 5th grade, section I and that teacher takes out the largest multiple, 5 conferences for one family for example and chooses a time for his/her conference that fits the parent request and calls it out and then reads the other family names and grade levels. The other teachers choose times before and after the time already chosen.

Then we go from section to section, grade to grade, scheduling any other 5's, then 4's, and so on. Since we know our families pretty well we go ahead and schedule even those who haven't returned the notes. When we get down to singles the meeting ends, notes are sent home with the specific times and a few days are given to respond. They SHOULD all be acceptable since the parents requested the times, but that gives us the option of rescheduling the multiples if necessary before doing the singles. Each of the teachers does their own singles, trying to plan for lunch or a "potty" break and trying to avoid having any more than necessary for the final afternoon. It may sound a little overwhelming and you really have to pay attention, but it works. The group scheduling takes less than an hour, and gives us some personal choice if we need to allow a double slot of IEP or occasionally if you want to be sure you have someone scheduled next so you can get an overly talkative parent moved on. Some teachers include the child in the conference but that is optional. One improvement that would really make sense would be if we could get a master list made at the original meeting that would make rescheduling easier, we did that in the single section building I worked at previously. Occasionally we have to schedule double conferences for a child of divorced parents at their request. This process evolved over time but probably gets more parents here. No mention is made of it being optional, and phone calls are often made when parents miss their slot to arrange another time.

Parent teacher conferences
Posted by: Nicole

I work from the report card and I use the saved work as support for the grade, whether it be for the positive or the negative. This is great, especially if you have a doubtful parent. Also, I make a notecard with 2 strengths and 2 skills that need to be worked on. Also, prior to conferences, I ask the children for 2 academic goals, 1 personal goal and 1 lifeskill goal. Show this at the end of the conference and have the parent list a goal for their child and how they are going to help he/she complete that goal. The parents think it's neat, and the kids really like to see what their parent has to say....GOOD LUCK!

Conference Form
Posted by: M.

Ahead of time, I always send home an evaluation/conference form of some sort. Parents fill one out and so do the students. I look through them and write some notes for myself as well. That way, at conferences, I know exactly what the parents want to cover and what I would like to cover.

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Parent Perspective
Posted by: pjm

My whole perspective on parent teacher conferences changed the day I went to my son's conference in MARCH and the teacher began the conference by saying well now that I finally like Zack! I never heard another word past that. I kept thinking 'now that you finally like Zack???? now? in March?' What was going on before now? I always think of that when I prepare my conferences and vow that I will never say anything so hurtful to my parents.

I don't suppose that's much advice but here- think like a parent. What would you like to hear and not hear about your own child and then do or don't say it! If you have to say a negative think about how it will sound and try to find a kind way to say your child is a jerk.

parent conference journal entry
Posted by: mrsp

At my parent teacher conferences I leave my students morning journals out and a basket of pencils. They can read through the jounal and then leave a message for their child to read the next day. If they ae not done with the journal and it is their turn to speak with me, they generally come in for conference and then when we are finished they return to complete the journal. I love having the journals out there in the hall, it keeps the parent busy and the wait time doesn't seem as long.

At the second conference I will put writings and art work in the hall. The parents still have a little note to fill out to make sure that they see the child's work and to leave them a note the for the next day. Of course the only problem with this is with the parents that don't show up. I will try and find an older sibling to leave them a note in their journal or I will write one myself. I would never want any student disappointed because of their parents not writing something in their journal.

First Question
Posted by: AmyK

I always start my parent teacher conferences with "Since we only have 10 min, is there anything you wanted to be sure we address?"

This covers two birds with one stone: parent feels like their needs are being heard; and secondly, you stay in control of the conference....they probably aren't ready to "jump right in" and will wait for you to get at whatever it is they are fearful of. Works for me!

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