Parent Teacher Conference Tips for Teachers
Parent Teacher Conference Best Practices and Planning Tips
Parent teacher conferences are often the only time you have all year to sit down with the parents of your students, but they don’t have to be stressful and rushed. By following these tips, you can show parents how much you value their child’s presence in your classroom, and address any areas of concern.
Prepare in Advance
- A few weeks before the conference, send home a letter or email parents to tell them you are looking forward to seeing them, and ask for any specific concerns or questions they might have. Add the responses to your conference notes to make sure you address all points.
- During the weeks leading up to the conference, gather examples of student work and prepare notes for the conference. Decide on a conference form and use it as your guide to make sure you address everything you need to address with the parents.
- Schedule parent teacher conferences using SignUp.com’s free, online SignUp sheets. Parents will receive automated reminders and real-time calendar syncing if changes need to be made.
- Think outside of the traditional face-to-face conference framework — offer to meet with busy parents virtually using Zoom, Skype or Facetime. (This option is especially important amidst social distancing needs due to COVID-19.)
- When planning virtual meetings:
- Set up the meeting link that parents will use to join the meeting, then be sure to include the link in your SIgnUp.
- Select a quiet room with no traffic to avoid distractions.
- Pick a room with a non-distracting background, or select a virtual background in Zoom.
- Hang a 'do not disturb' sign on the door for your family or roommates.
- Use a headset for better audio.
- Offer resources to parents to support classroom instruction –books, camps, websites, special programs, etc.
Stick to the Schedule:
- Commit to starting and ending on time, even if it means you have to schedule another longer conference at a different time for issues that arise during the conference. Respect the other parents who are waiting by sticking to your agenda. Use a countdown timer that gently alerts you and the parents two minutes prior to ending.
Invite Two-Way Conversation
- Begin with what the student does well. Parents will be more receptive to constructive criticism if they feel that you genuinely appreciate their child. Share several specific examples of the students’ strengths and achievement, as well as positive interactions you’ve witnessed the student having with other students and adults.
- Don’t overwhelm parents with opportunities for improvement. Instead, seek solutions for your most pressing issues collaboratively. Provide suggestions for activities and strategies families can use at home to help their children learn and grow, and develop a few action items you can all implement.
- Ask if there is anything you should know that would help you serve their child better, such as health concerns or learning disorders.
- Don’t forget to invite parents to participate in their child’s education. Do they have any special talents, hobbies or family traditions the class might be interested in learning about? Maybe there is a parent who is an artist, writer, pilot, or from a foreign country your class will be studying.
- Remember to sincerely thank parents for their involvement and interest in their student’s education. Ask if their concerns were addressed and if the answer is no, schedule a follow-up appointment. Reassure parents that you will continue to work with them and their student to ensure a successful year for all!