Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Check out our list of tips for parent-teacher conferences.

Take some time early in the school year to ask other educators or the administration the following: 1. How parent-educator conferences are structured. 2. What the expectations for educators are. 3 Who sets the schedules for the conferences. 4. What is the format for the conferences.

Many schools conduct learner-led conferences. If you are expected to facilitate learner-run conferences, which places the responsibility on the learner, begin to plan early and practice with the learners.

When you prepare for conferences, be prepared with the following: 1. Background info about the families. 2. Info about the learner. 3. Specific projects and assignments that represent the learner’s work in a folder.

Allocate learners to select the work they want parents/guardians to view. You are providing the learner with choices and responsibility for the conferences. Learners can reflect on their work by writing a paragraph about their learning.

Follow the learner-led conference with the learners. The educator models a conference and then pairs learners who will practice their conference. The learner takes charge of their learning by reporting to the parents/guardians.

If offering learner-led parent-educator conferences, ensure parents/guardians are aware of the procedures so they are not expecting to attend the usual educator-driven conferences.

Organize the area that you have been assigned for the conferences. This area may be your room, another assigned room, cafeteria, or gym. Place yourself and your parents away from the door or other educators wherever you are assigned. The conversation is between you and the families, not the entire community. Show only the learner’s work. Print out a record of their work, grades, or points. Don’t open your grade book with other learners’ grades listed. Confidentiality is important.

Wherever you are for parent-educator conferences, try to display learner work samples, projects, or pictures. Organize learner folders according to conference time. Check that the area around you is neat and orderly. Some parents find parent-educator conferences daunting because of previous subjective experiences at school. Give a welcoming environment.

Remember that first impressions are important. Check your body language and reflect on your message to families. Remain confident, and extend your hand as you greet the families. Smile, be cordial, and be inviting. First impressions will not be forgotten.

Once families arrive at the conferences, escort them to the seating area. Utilize a table to display the learner’s work from the folder. Organize four adult chairs on one side of the table with your chair turned toward the others to create a welcoming environment. Refrain from using learner desks.

Start the parent-educator conference with comments accenting the learner’s strengths.

Parents/guardians want to hear positive comments about their child. Starting the conferences this way helps to put parents at ease.

If you meet with parents/guardians outside regular school hours, alert your principal to the time and date. Don’t have meetings alone at night or early in the morning. At least alert the school janitor that you are meeting with someone in the building.

As frustrated as you might be with a parent or guardian, do not make it personal. In reality, some parents will act in the best interest of their children, and some won’t. You are not there to pass judgment.

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