How to Have Successful Parent Teacher Conferences!

Parent/teacher conferences are around the corner. You dread meeting with all those parents who think their child has no faults or that their child isn’t being challenged enough. You have concerns about behavior and some learning deficits. How do you fit it all in during a 15-20 minute conference? Follow these guidelines to show how you can have a successful parent/teacher conference in such a short time span!

5 Steps to Have Successful Parent Teacher Conferenes

Your Perspective is EVERYTHING!

Ok, ok….you know these students so well.  You know that little Johnny is frequently off-task, has difficulty completing work and distracts your students constantly in the classroom.  YOU of course know all this, but how do you get this across to parents without upsetting them?  
Choose ONE area that you want to focus on during this conference.  This is where I like to use the “Compliment Sandwich.”  You want to start the conference off on the right foot and gain parent trust, if you haven’t already.   
During conferences there are times when you need to point out a struggle that a student may be having within the classroom.  Make sure to surround that struggle with positives.  It will help build the relationship and keep parents open to suggestions.
Find two compliments that you can give about the child.  “Sandwich” those two compliments around the area you would like to address with the family.  So the conference would go like this: compliment, something to work on, compliment.  
And just like in Writing 101 in college, your concluding compliment should be something memorable.  Through the entire conference, parents will remember parting words.  It should be positive and something that will help to nurture your relationship with them.  

Create a Professional Atmosphere

As a teacher, you want to be viewed as a professional.  There are a few things I do to help build that persona. First, dress appropriately.  Make sure your attire is that of a professional.  I realize we don’t dress like that every day, but when meeting parents for conferences, I feel you should look as a professional would look in an office.  
I also include a sitting area outside my classroom door.  I have chairs for my guests, a candy bowl, and a few items that we have been working on in class.  Parents love to look through children’s work.  
Posted in a viewable location is also my conference schedule.  Sometimes, even with the reminders, mistakes happen or conferences run short or over with siblings.  This way parents are able to see the correct time of their conference, not interrupt other conferences, and can schedule a make-up time if needed in an open slot. 
And finally, when the conference begins, be organized.  You have many students in your class and you did a lot to plan for the meeting. Make sure that you have all your materials in one location and you are not fumbling around for your prep work.  I suggest those organization crates that you can find at Wal-Mart for pretty cheap.

Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

A lot of things creep up on us during the school year.  Do not let parent/teacher conferences be one of them!  It is so important to plan ahead, especially since your time is limited.  
Make sure you have your compliments planned out (this will set the tone of your meeting), academics you want to discuss, and student reflection sheets.  After all, the way the child views school is extremely important in discussing with parents.  Click the picture below for your FREE student reflection sheet.
Use this as a student self-assessment to see how students view their performance in class.  They are often more honest than you would be if you filled one out as the teacher!
You should identify academic and behavioral goals for the child, ways that you will work towards these in the classroom and how parents can support these goals at home.  
Planning ahead will help you stay on track during your conference.  There is a lot of information to share and you don’t want to muddy waters with material that isn’t as important. Have a plan, stick to it, and show parents exactly how their child is performing in ways that they will understand – artifacts from their child and data, data, data!
Check out the documents that I use to prep for my parent/teacher conferences below and grab them HERE. Editable versions are available.
Parent Teacher conferences do not need to be stressful.  Stay organized and on track with these helpful printables that are available as print & go or editable.

Involve the Parents

I know that this can be difficult to do, but again you are limited on time.  You have concerns, as do the parents.  They will also want their time during the conference and they will want to be heard.  Don’t be caught off guard.  
One way I do this is to send home a pre-conference survey to the parents.  It should be returned a few days before the conference so that you have time to look it over.  This will help you to know what their goals and thoughts are of their child.

A pre-conference form will make sure that your and your parents important information is shared during the meeting.  Everyone will leave happy and hopefully with a plan.  The parent concerns will not hijack your conference when you are prepared for their questions/concerns.  

Use this form to keep your conference on track!  When you know the parents' concerns, you are able to schedule in time to discuss these concerns with them.  You may be surprised to learn they are your same concerns!

Take Notes and Follow-Up

Let’s face it, you discuss A LOT during conferences and most likely have between 20 and 25 over the course of a few days.  It can really be difficult to remember what was said, suggested, and how to follow up with the details of the conference.  
Take notes!  Lots of notes!  This will help you to remember what was discussed with each parent, how they reacted to the suggestions and what you may need to follow-up with at a later date.
There are a few ways I follow-up. First, I always send a thank-you letter for attending the conference.  Again, this builds relationships and shows parents that you value their time and input.  This can be as simple as a Dojo message or a typed note home.  
Use these thank you cards to help cultivate a positive relationship with parents.
Also, a few weeks after the conference I like to follow up with how little Johnny is progressing with their goals and thank the parents for working with them at home on what was discussed at the conference. Once a positive relationship is established, that is when I may work on another “improvement area” in the classroom.  
That’s it!  5 steps for a successful parent/teacher conference!  Did I miss anything?  Do you have a tip that you have found to be successful for you?  Let me know!  I’m always looking for new ideas and ways to improve! 
Use these 5 steps to have a successful parent/teacher conference and build a positive rapport that will help lead you to your goals for the student.


Grab 4 weeks of my Challenge Phonics today for FREE!

Are you looking for a way to challenge your  high-flying students during your phonics time or add center work to your upper grades?