What if we told you there was a way to make your Parent Teacher conferences easier? Less overwhelming? Less stressful?
We have found over the years that the key is all in the organisation. Teacher parent conferences can be a breeze with a little bit of forward planning.
That is why we have put this checklist together.
Let us help you tackle your next parent-teacher conferences with ease, so you can confidently meet with parents and work together for the students in your class.
Use the checklist below as a rough guide. Pick and choose what suits your situation and style best:
1. Start by communicating about the conferences with plenty of notice for parents (your school may do this digitally for you, or you might be left to organise it yourself). The earlier you get this information out, the more time you allow yourself to schedule the interviews, prepare your notes and send home reminders.
2. Allocate every student an interview/conference time and reach out to any parents that haven’t requested an interview to follow up.
3. Prepare your conference notes. Every teacher likes doing this differently. It is handy to include specific data you want to share, so it is at your fingertips during your interview.
“I always like to begin an interview on a positive note. By recording these positives on my interview sheet, I know I will be able to share something authentic with my student's parents or guardians” Ashleigh RSC.
If you are looking for a template to help you prepare your notes, check out these!
4. Gather any student work samples and place them in a folder for each student, along with the conference forms you’ve prepared. Sometimes it is handy to have work samples to demonstrate what you are trying to explain to parents.
We like to have notes prepared for the core subjects, mainly Maths and English. Providing parents with feedback on what their child is doing well, and what the next steps are moving forward. This allows them to be part of the learning journey.
Teacher tip: Order your conference notes either alphabetically or by interview order (this is our preferred method). This way, they are ready to go come interview day.
5. The day before the conference, send home a “Friendly Reminder” note. As parents, we know that sometimes things fall through the cracks and reminders are always appreciated. Find our Friendly reminder templates here.
6. For an extra special touch before you begin your conferences, allow your students to contribute. Many schools do three-way conferences these days, but not every child will be sitting in on the interviews. We have found that kids often get just as overwhelmed as adults and tend to lose their voices in the moment.
To overcome this, ask them to reflect and record one thing they want you to share with their adults during the interview. Place their notes in your files.
7. On The day of the conferences, you might like to print off a sign to stick on your classroom door. An additional idea is to leave some note templates out for parents so they can write something special for their children while they are waiting. It is always exciting to hide these notes in pencil cases or desks once the interviews are over.
Note: Students that don’t get a special message from their parents/guardians will always get one from us as their teacher.
Teacher tip: I like to set up an activity station for any younger siblings that might be present at our conference. It is a way to keep them busy so parents can concentrate on our conversation about their older child’s learning - Tegan from @young.minds.bloom
8. Before you begin your meetings, set up a space for everyone to sit comfortably. It is nice to ensure a power balance between the teacher and others sitting in on the interview. We choose not to sit behind our teacher's desk for this reason.
Also, make sure you have plenty of water to keep you hydrated!
9. Timing is always a pain point when it comes to conferences - it is so hard to keep track of time. Here are a few suggestions to help you stick to each allotted interview time:
Have a discreet timer on your desk or computer (set it for a minute or two less than the allocated time to allow you to wrap up the conversation).
Ask parents to politely knock on the door when their interview is due to begin to give you and the other parents a signal that time is coming to an end.
Plan to have a spare slot now and then so you can catch up if needed.
If your school suggests having all teachers host the interviews in a large hall/room, consider taking them up on the offer. We found it's a way to keep everyone on time - especially if a communal timer is used. Plus, you have someone close by if things become heated.
10. Finally, don’t forget to begin and end each conference positively.
We hope this checklist helps you feel less stressed preparing for your next parent teacher conference. As we have explained above, a little bit of organisation can make a world of difference!