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How to Run Parent Conferences with Confidence

parent conferences Oct 17, 2019
Being properly prepared for Parent Conferences allows you to go into each conference with confidence.

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?

Well, you can with the right steps. That means some obvious steps and some not so obvious steps - preparing in advance, creating a structure for your conferences, taking time to rehearse a bit and understanding parents' expectations.

FVIE THINGS EVERY TEACHER NEEDS TO DO TO BE READY FOR CONFERENCES.
  1. Decide: What are you hoping to accomplish? What is the purpose of your conferences?
  2. If you haven't already, create a data form for each child - partially filled out (testing data, class time observations...)
  3. Collect work samples for each child to back up your talking points. 
  4. Prep your meeting area with your conference materials for each student, paper, pencils or pens, a timer, etc.

  5. Have a simple activity ready in case parents bring kids with them. 

STRUCTURING YOUR CONFERENCES FOR SUCCESS. 

Remember, parents are often 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 or note cards and practice ahead of time (do a dry run) for any conferences you are particularly nervous about. This ensures you cover what needs to be said, builds trust with parents and ensures you listen more than you talk. 

  • Have a parent conference form for each student - preload it with points you want to cover (both behavior and academics) including potential next step goals.
  • 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 to break the ice.
  • Create a list of questions to ask or conversation ideas. 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 and for supporting you as their child's teacher.
  • Have a recording form ready. Fill it out during (or right after) the conference. Place a copy in the student's 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'll remember. The next day, you can either do items or add them to your calendar with a deadline. (Yes, I'm a stickler for micro steps to help you stay organized and get stuff done.)

THE NOISE IN PARENTS' HEADS: WHAT DO PARENTS REALLY WANT TO KNOW?

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 are 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.

Want more help? Check out my Parent-Teacher Meeting Packet here.

 

 

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