It’s fall and that means that parent conferences are just around the corner. Wouldn’t it be fabulous if you could go into each student’s parent conference feeling prepared and confident?
I know how hard you work and how much you care about each of your students. Take the time to prepare a bit for parent conferences so your families will have no doubt about your hard work and caring heart as well.
So what do we need to do to have successful conferences? Prepare an overall plan, prep student details, rehearse and understand parents' expectations. Think of conferences as an opportunity to build relationships, share information and create a plan for moving forward.
Decide: What are you hoping to accomplish? What is the purpose of your conferences?
Create a data form for each child - partially filled out (testing data, class time observations...)
Collect work samples and behavior documentation for each child to back up your talking points.
Prep your meeting area with your conference materials for each student, paper, pencils or pens, etc.
Have a simple activity ready in case parents bring kids with them.
Remember, parents are usually both excited and nervous about coming in for conferences. These kids are their babies, and mama and papa bear are quick to protect. For extra confidence: Write out a script and practice it for any conferences you are nervous about. This ensures you cover what needs to be said, builds trust with parents and ensures you listen more than you talk.
Start with a thank you for taking time out of their day to come meet with you and for entrusting you with their child this year.
Always start a conference with good news.
Create a list of questions to ask. This can help parents share more about their expectations, frustrations and other information about their child they want you to know.
Defuse touchy topics by approaching negative news with gentleness and a request for their help and partnership.
End the discussion with something positive about their child.
Restate what was agreed upon and who will do what.
Compliment parents for being committed to their child's success and thank them for taking the time to meet with you. They’re busy too!
Have a follow-up form ready. Fill it out during or right after the conference. Send a copy home with their child the next school day and place a copy in their file.
PRO TIP: Keep a To Do list handy during all your conferences. Add items you tell parents you will do, send, follow-up on, etc. so you will remember. The next day, you can either do items or add them to your calendar with a deadline.
Is my child doing well? How does my child compare to others? Do you like my child? Does my child have friends? Are they happy? How is my child's behavior? Am I doing a good job? How can I help my child be successful? Are you trustworthy? Do you know what you’re doing?
Think of it this way... Your students' parents have entrusted you with their children. Priceless. (Think- worth more than their bank accounts.) Would they trust you with their ATM card and their pin number? Probably not. And yet, they have allowed you access to their babies.
So, take the time to build trust and reassure parents. That foundation will open your hearts to each other and help your conferences and the year go more smoothly for all of you.
Don't forget to grab your FREE Parent Conference Recording Guide here.