Parent-Teacher Conference Ideas
Parent-teacher conferences can be more stressful than a standardized test on top of an IEP meeting with a principal observation on the side.
Your students have shared details about their families since the beginning of the year! Maybe you’ve even drawn some conclusions about them. (You’re human!) Or perhaps you have some anxiety about meeting families face-to-face!
Are questions like this running through your head?
- “What has their child told them about ME?”
- “Will they still be angry about the phone call I had to make to them last month?”
- “Are we going to be able to have an open conversation about where their child might be currently struggling?”
So many factors can play into making conferences potentially stressful. Let’s chat about some simple tweaks that you can make that will put everyone at ease and build your confidence as you enter parent-teacher conference season! ⤵️
Parent-Teacher Conference Forms
I love to prepare for parent-teacher conferences by sending home survey forms for students and parents before our meeting. I ask that they take some time to answer honestly and then return to school before our scheduled time together.
Sending home the surveys accomplishes two things! First, it allows you to eliminate surprises and prepare for potential conversation topics. Depending on what parents share, you may need to gather work samples, special data or have another teacher, specialist, or the school counselor join the conference. Setting this up ahead of time eliminates stress and confusion and maximizes your time together.
The second thing the survey accomplishes is that it sets the tone for the conference to be positive. It’s written in an upbeat way that lends itself to focusing on what’s going right and areas of potential improvement.
Creating conference folders is a great way to involve students in the process of their parents or family coming to the conference. It turns something potentially stressful for kids into something they are a part of, too! Students love to take ownership of leaving their parents a little note or picture that welcomes them into their classroom world.
Fold a piece of construction paper in half to make your folder. Allow the children time to write a note and draw a picture for their family. Attach their finished product to the folder. Parents love seeing a little love note from their child, and it gives the conference a special feeling right off the bat!
Bonus: parents can take home any materials from the conference in their personalized folder!
You can stuff the folder with work samples, reports, or any other paperwork you need for the conference. It’s an effective way to keep things organized!
Fridge Friend is a great resource that I share in the folders! This information sheet highlights the “need to know” information and puts them all in one easy reference point! I always add my name, email, phone number, any log-in information that is personal to a student, reading and writing checks, and other tips! Parents are so appreciative of this little Fridge Friend!
My last tip is to put your conference folders in a basket in the order of your conference schedule. Doing so keeps you organized during one of the year’s longest days!
Download the folders and notes for ✨FREE✨ now! Just add your email below. There are four designs that can be used for conferences throughout the year.
Setting Up for Parent-Teacher Conferences
I always make a little waiting area for families to keep them comfortable if they arrive early or the conference before theirs runs a bit long.
On a desk covered with a tablecloth, I set out a welcome sign with directions so they know they’ve arrived at the correct room! In addition, I like to offer small water bottles and candy or little snacks. Finally, I add some class books that we have made and some recent read-aloud books.
Children and siblings may attend the conferences in my district, so I like to have something ready for them! I usually set out blocks on my carpet area so kids can play while we talk.
📎 Pro-tip: make sure to have adult-sized chairs available. Everyone is more comfortable this way!
Lastly, you may want to have your computer on and available in case you need to look up any specific grading or data questions. There’s nothing more awkward than staring at each other while your computer takes its sweet time to warm up! 🤣
Wrapping Up Conferences
There are a few tips that you can follow to wrap up conferences successfully. First, as you’re meeting with families, keep a running list of tasks or questions you want to revisit after conferences. It can be a whirlwind of a day; without notes, you may feel lost as to what you promised to which families!
Next, before parents leave, remind them to write a quick note to their child and tuck it in their desk or cubby. Kids love this small touch!
In addition, make sure you point out your contact information on Fridge Friend so they can keep in touch with you.
Finally, send home any resources that they can play with their child at home. I love to send home some of these fun sight word activities!
I hope that this gave you some helpful tips for preparing for parent-teacher conferences. I know that for myself, these small tweaks and touches help to make conferences run smoothly. They also allow me to feel more confident about the big things when I know that the little things have been taken care of ahead of time!
Conferences are the perfect time to forge connections and relationships with families that will benefit the students all year long. And that’s what we’re here for, right?
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the most prepared teacher of them all? Hint: it’s you! 😉