At my school, parent/teacher conferences are scheduled in twenty minute time slots with zero transition time in between. Within twenty minutes, you must welcome parents, review the 1st trimester report card, review last year’s standardized test results, wrap things up and say goodbye. My conferences went well last year (my first year at this school), but I learned a few things. This year, I made some adjustments. Conferences were fabulous!
Here’s what went well.
- Before conferences, I wrote 2-4 student strengths and goals. I created the following form to record these talking points.
- I placed report cards, standardized test results, and a “decoding standardized test results” one sheet in a folder for parents.
- I made sure to let parents know that we had 20 minutes to discuss the student’s overall 1st trimester performance, report cards and standardized tests upon sitting down for the conference. I assured parents that if additional time was needed that I’d be happy to schedule a follow-up conference.
- I let parents know that I like to start with my overall thoughts of the 1st trimester and that we’d get to the documents later. This was an incredible time saver! Having this conversation before parents were able to see the report card (report cards were enclosed in the folder) enabled us to have a conversation about important topics rather than simply analyze grades. Typically, parents get lost in grades. Last year, I didn’t have the report cards enclosed in a folder and parents couldn’t take their focus off of them. When I pulled out report cards this year, we breezed through them, as important strengths or goals were highlighted in advance. By organizing the conference this way, I was better equipped to LEAD the meeting. All of the conferences flowed smoothly.
- I went ahead and set up a timer this year. I set it to go off two minutes before the twenty minutes were up, so I knew I had to wrap things up to stay on schedule. Parents were ok with this, as I explained the time limitations and the opportunity to schedule a follow-up conference if needed at the beginning of the conference. I’m happy I set the time to go off two minutes early, rather than at the exact transition time, because about two minutes was needed to wrap the conference up and say goodbye.
- I set up a desk with my binder of 5th Grade Published work outside of the classroom. Parents loved this. It kept them occupied as they waited to enter my classroom. Some of the parents stuck around afterwards to read more of the stories as well. It was definitely a valued addition.
I’m incredibly happy with the outcome of parent/teacher conferences this year. I must have done something right because I even received some emails from parents afterwards thanking me for such a thoughtful and well organized conference…that was a treat! I even printed one of them for my Pick Me Up binder.
I was also told that the conference was short, but meaningful. Well, I can’t do anything about the “short” part, but I’m happy parents felt they were meaningful, and I credit that to the conversations we had based on the talking points I prepared, rather than focusing mostly on report cards.