We put in more hours during parent teacher conferences and need to be prepared.
I will share some of my tips for a successful conference week.
#1. Use Sign up Genius to schedule conferences. This is such an easy way to schedule conferences. Make your schedule and send the link to your class. Parents can sign up for a time that works for them. You can make it so parents can swap times, too. The site even send them reminders! The best part is, it is FREE!
When making your schedule, think about what you need. If you have a late night of conferences, you may want to give yourself a break. That way you can freshen up and get a bite to eat and go to the bathroom. I know I cannot go 4 hours without a break!
#2. Be prepared!
Start gathering data and work samples several weeks before conferences for parents to look at.
When I first began my career I would wait for the last minute. And then the student got sick... and I'd have to scramble to gather data. Luckily I learned my lesson quickly and continually gather data and work samples now.
I give the DRA2 and assess sight words. I also use these:
I keep track of reading success via running records using this product:
In addition, I photocopy major assessments and send them home so parents know how their student performed. If a student did not perform well on an assessment, I contact parents and we come up with a plan to intervene immediately.
#3 Think about seating for the conference. I like to sit next to my parents. We are a partnership working for the success of their child. Sitting higher than parents or across from them changes the mood of the conference. Also, consider spots in your classroom that would make for a comfortable conference.
#4 Don't surprise parents! Anything you discuss should not be a surprise. Parents want to help their children. They will be upset if you tell them their child is struggling and they could have been helping them. Don't assume parents realize how their child is performing.
#5 If you are going to have a difficult conference, get help! Talk with your colleagues beforehand and consider having support. Perhaps an intervention teacher or administrator can attend as well.
Make a plan for the conference and stick to it! You may want to share the agenda for the conference with parents prior to the conference, too.
#6 Be positive! Even if a student is struggling you can still be positive by having a plan to intervene. When you know your students well, it is so easy to be positive!
#7 It is okay to not have all of the answers. People are unique individuals and we should not expect to have all of the answers. Sometimes it takes trial and error to help a student be successful. And that is okay. Give yourself permission to not know everything!
#8 Stick to your schedule. Everyone's time is valuable and we need to honor that by sticking to the schedule. If someone comes late, you may want to reschedule the conference so you don't leave parents waiting. I think it's better to reschedule than to have someone annoyed that you did not honor their time.
#9 Be well rested. I know this sounds like a no-brainer but it's true! We need to have clear minds when conferring. It is hard to think straight when we are lacking proper rest. I get cranky when I am tired and that is no way to be during conferences. Do your best to get your z-z-z-z's!
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this and got some ideas for a great conference week! Please let me know what other tips you have! I am always looking for ways to have a stress-free conference week!! When you comment below with your tip for conference week, please leave your email so I can send you one of my assessment tools for FREE! Just let me know which one you want from the items listed in #2.