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For me, parent-teacher conference day might be the most excruciating day of the year. The main reason for this is because the parents you really need to talk to never sign up or show up. The parents who do schedule conferences are the ones you have already met with a million times throughout the year. Their child was awesome at the beginning of the year when you first met, and they still are! That’s why I’m going to share some parent-teacher conference tips today.
Two or three times throughout the school year, my district schedules days where the students get out early. The rest of the day is designated specifically for conference times. Here are some of my quick hints to get through at least 13 conferences in 3ish hours.
Top Parent-Teacher Conference Tips
Set each conference for 15 minutes
We like to send out a sign-up sheet via email for parents to schedule a block for their conference. We normally use websites such as signupgenius.com or signup.com. Each parent selects a time and is aware of the 15 minute time frame. They are also able to see that someone will be scheduled before and after their time.
I always like printing out some things for the parents to take home with them. This can include anything from a print out of their grades, test scores, or strengths. (I think printing out weaknesses is silly). This always creates a great impression with the parent. You are prepared and ready to be informative.
Have a plan
First, try to always start your conference out with some encouraging words about the child. It sets a positive mood for the meeting. Second, know what you are going to talk about…test scores, grades, behavior, etc. Make sure you know what you are going to talk about. Otherwise, the meeting can be a waste of time for both you and the parent…especially if you will have to schedule another conference is the near future. If you have concerns, talk about those. If you only have great things to say, make those a priority.
Begin a ritual if get nervous. Positive comments, academics, behavior, wrap up. This can be a great idea for emerging teachers until they get a handle on conferences.
Wrap it up
Once the 15 minutes is nearing the end, some of the parents continue talking. I always begin to end the conversation by saying things such as “if you ever need to schedule another conference, please do not hesitate to ask,” or “let us know if you have any other questions,” or “thank you so much for meeting with us.” Most of the time, the parents get the hint that their time is up. I recommend not using a timer…this can sometimes come off as rude.
And a last few teacher-parent conference tips and reminders:
- Never say anything bad about a parent’s child.
- Make sure to let the parent know you are doing everything you can to help their child.
- Show the parent that you care…because honestly, you do.
Anything else you think is helpful? Interested in teaching? Read more about teaching tips and tricks here!