September is flying by. Especially when you are in the classroom. Before you know it, October will be here. October for me was always “Parent Conference month.” And it always snuck up on me. Today I want to share with you how I prepared for conferences and share with you my new resource with parent conference forms.
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I always hated it, but our admin made us do positive phone calls home during the first month of school. It is probably the millennial in me coming out that makes me hate phone calls.
Most of the time, however, the phone calls were rewarding and the parents loved it.
It also gave me a chance to connect with parents about a meeting time, which I found to be A LOT easier than my previous method! (See below for more info on that…)
Before Parent Conferences
The “parent conference” part is really the easiest part of the whole process. For me, the prepping for parent conferences was what was hard and timeconsuming.
There are a few things (I think) you need to do leading up to parent conferences. (Wanna listen instead while you walk the dogs or clean the house? I got you!)
1. Build a relationship
First, you must build a relationship with parents. Doing this is crucial to having them on your side when things come up with their child.
I did this by sending home weekly newsletters (first year teacher me did, at least!). As time went on I found that was too much of a time commitment, so then I went to monthly newsletters.
Some years, when I was no longer self contained, I used apps like Bloomz.
It doesn’t matter how you do it. The important thing is that your parents see you care about their child.
2. Note positives of each student
Keep a journal/notepad/something with each kid’s name on it and list the positive things they do or the positive qualities they have.
Then, when it comes time to write those things on a conference form you have specific things you can mention.
3. Find out campus procedures
Each campus handles parent conferences differently. Find out how your campus does it and then adapt what you normally do to their procedures.
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4. Reach out to parents
In my first few years I sent home a signup form with all the available time slots and parents could pick their top three. This worked, but it was a pain.
Really it was just a scheduling
puzzle nightmare. As I mentioned above, when our campus asked us to make positive phone calls home, I found this to be a great opportunity to schedule their conference.
I created a google doc with all my times and when I called I could read off available times. Then there were none of the situations with multiple parents choosing the same time and me having to make phone calls/send home more notes to change the time.
The week before, send home a reminder slip with the parent times. Or, if you have access to it, share your google doc (just remember to save it as a PDF) and send it to parents.
5. Fill out parent conference forms
It would be best to start these a couple of weeks in advance and do a few a day/night. But what I ended up doing is filling them out the weekend before.
Our family reunion has always been the weekend before parent conferences so I usually just had my sister drive there or back and then I would fill out forms during the drive.
(I found car time to be some of my most quality school work time. There is literally NOTHING else to do!)
Parent Conference Forms
There are a plethora of parent conference forms out there depending on what your needs are. Here is something similar to what I used in my time in the classroom.
Some other things to keep in mind on the day of.
- Set out chairs and books in the hallway (or in your classroom library) as a waiting area for parents who arrive early or for kids and their brothers/sisters
- Have water and tissues nearby. I had many parents come into our conference and spill life stories to me. I am not a counselor, but at that moment, I was that safe space for them. I also once had a parent have a cough attack in the middle of our conference…hence the water.
- Ask for backup. If you have a difficult student (or parent) ask for admin or a partner teacher to sit in with you. Don’t be afraid of this!
Until next time,
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