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Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.

Just when you think you've finally got the routine down, it's suddenly time for Parent-Teacher Conferences!

Honestly, I have a "love-hate" relationship for Parent-Teacher Conferences.  Why? Well, they certainly are a whole lot of work, along with late nights, which is the "hate" part. But sitting and chatting about little ones you care about with other people who care about that little one can be very enlightening, and very satisfying. 

Most parents I've worked with are really, really nice people! I particularly love it when I've already had a member of the family, and I get to "hang out" with parents I already know. (Of course, the down side to this, is that it's even harder at the end of the year to say goodbye to a family with whom you've had a 2 year relationship!)

Conferences shouldn't be the first communication you've had with a parent. Newsletters, personal notes and phone calls should have already happened so parents already know who you are.

I find being super prepared helps the conferences go more smoothly. I start sending home notifications requesting conference dates and times, and I send home this form for parents to fill out and send back before the conference.
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
I find this form gives me a lot of information. Once I get the form back, I can start preparing my paperwork for Conference night:
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
I've left this form a bit more flexible, since the kids and their needs are all so very different. The "strengths" and "need to improve" sections can be filled out ahead of time, and any questions from parents on the questionnaire can go into the "things to think about" section. Most of my notes on this sheet are behavioral notes, since 

As behaviors or struggles appear during the week before conferences, I'll be sure to run to my pile of conference notes and jot things down, so things will be fresh in my mind.

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
1.  Keep a couple of bottles of water nearby. (I get very dry from all that talking!)
2. Post a schedule outside your door so parents are aware of your limited time.
3. Slip in a couple of extra meetings ("meeting with principal") or "meeting with Mrs. Smith")  These are your bathroom/ snack breaks. (See step 1... water!)
4. Keep a couple of chairs outside your door along with things for parents and siblings to do. I usually keep the children's writing folders in the hall, along with some books and blocks for the kiddos to use. Some people keep some mints outside as well. (Keep a few for yourself, too!)
5. Dress comfortably. Yes, it's important to look professional, but it's not "date night."  I keep a little extra makeup, brush, comb, and a toothbrush in my desk to freshen up, but being neat and professional looking is most important.
6. Don't hesitate to ask an administrator to sit in during a conference if you think there may be some challenges.  They're usually glad to sit in, and often learn a lot about your teaching and your students. Just warn the parents ahead of time.
7. Be sure to invite others who also work with the child, when appropriate: Title I, OT, PT, Sped, SLP, and even Art, Music, or Phys. Ed. 

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
1. Smile and say hello. Show everyone involved where to sit.
2. Start by saying something positive about the child. That shouldn't be too tough, but it's important to start on a positive note.
3. One of the most valuable phrases I learned in my teaching experience was this: "he's working on..." If a child doesn't already have a skill, he's certainly working on it. It sounds so much better than "he's not good at..."
4. It's a good idea to have work samples nearby, especially if the child is struggling in some area.
5. Make sure you say something personal that has nothing to do with school. "David has such a nice friendship with Paul."
6. End the meeting by repeating something positive about the child. 
7. The following day, make a copy of your conference notes to share with parents. File your own copy where you can check it frequently.

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.
Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.

Tips to Prepare for Parent Conferences: This blog post lists several ideas to help you be prepared and help those conferences run smoothly.




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