Oh, parent teacher conference time! Just thinking about them has always made me feel like...
Some are parents you've never met before. Some you've interacted with for years. Some will be incredibly protective and have their defenses up. You will have to have some difficult conversations about the most important people in their world. This is scary for all involved.
But over the last year or so, I've found ways to make conferences run smoothly and successfully for all involved. Today is our fall conference day, and I am using some of the things that have made conferences successful for me in the past.
Just like we spend time setting up our room for seamless learning for our students, put in a little time to set up for your parents.
The environment sets the stage, so make sure it is pleasant. I put on some soft classical music and ensure that the room is tidy and smells good. These little things can make a big impression. I swear by fragrance plug-ins. These Air Wick plug-ins are inexpensive and permeate throughput the room (a huge room I might add). When you walk in and notice that it smells great, you are already at ease.
I always set up a table and chairs outside my room for those who are waiting for the previous conference to end. On the table, I put some of our class books for students to read to their parents, and give them a sense of what their kids can do. Our class books about our field trips (which include pictures and students writing about their experiences) are always a big hit.
When you walk in, I have a sign in table. I use picture frames from the Dollar Tree for the signs- it looks nicer and keeps the signs in good condition so they can be used again.
At each child's spot, I have a pile of all of their papers that I will go over with parents. It is easy for me to grab when they get there, and helps me make sure that everyone has a copy of everything. There are always a few parents who can't make it, and now I have everything ready for when I can meet with them. There are always several notes to go home, as well as student journals and portfolios. Our district kindergarten "report cards" are very basic, so I supplement with parent reports from ESGI and a talking points sheet.
I love this format because it reminds me of all the positives. When I sit down to fill them out, I think about what I've seen each child improve in, what they are really strong in, and what they struggle with. I leave the "goals" section blank and fill this out with parents. I love hearing what they want to see for their child, and what they are willing to put into this. This helps solidify that we are a team, and helps us focus on what we want for that child.These talking points help me stay focused as we confer.
Before leaving, I have a little treat for the families who came. Who doesn't love a little something sweet?
Doing these things has allowed me to make conferences seamless and productive. Going into it today, I feel at ease and well-prepared, excited to see parents beam when I tell them the great things their kid can do. Do you have any "must-do's" for conferences? I'd love to hear about them!
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