Tonight is our first evening of parent teacher conferences for this year. I must say that the first set of conferences always makes me nervous because I don't feel like I know the families very well yet. Of my 17 students 4 are siblings of students I've had before, so that's a plus.
I did a full post on conferences last spring, so I'm not going to go into every little detail
but just a few short tips I have, especially if you're new to teaching.
- Have a script - I don't mean a literal script necessarily, but have an order that you will go through everything. My students assemble folders with everything we'll cover and we put it all in order. It really helps with pacing and I've found that a lot of the time we cover most of the questions that parents come with. It also ensures that you don't skip anything important.
- Find out how your students are doing outside of your classroom and share this info with parents - This is actually kind of a new one for me, but I have some students with behavior issues, so I've found it important to keep in touch with the specials teachers. (For example I found one student has lots of problems in PE and music, but is never in computer.)
- Be ready to offer some solutions - If there's a problem you don't need to be able to have plans to fix it tomorrow, but have some ideas for possible solutions that you can discuss with parents. I brought a few concerns to our school counselor last week and talked with him so that I am better prepared for conferences. I also keep a pad of paper at the table with me so that I can take notes on anything that I can't answer or provide with them that day.
- Be friendly - Parents are nervous about conferences too, so be friendly and welcoming. Try not to drop any "bombs" on parents at conferences. (If there's an issue with a student try to talk to them or send a note home beforehand and don't wait until conference week.) I've already tried to build a relationship with the parents and guardians of my more challenging students, so conference time is more of an update for their progress and on any topics we've already discussed.
I'll try to post a bit more later in the week and show you a glimpse of our conferences folders, but I wanted to at least share a few additional tips to what I'd posted last spring. I really do enjoy conferences and getting to know our families a bit better, so I want to be able to help you with running effective conferences as well!
Have a great Monday!