Parent Teacher Conference Scheduling Success
Helpful Tips for Teachers and Parents
Parent Teacher Conferences are a powerful and important opportunity to bring parents and teachers together in partnership to support student academic success and happiness. Even though short in duration (typically scheduled for 15- 30 minutes), parent teacher conferences also provide a critical space for fostering mutual admiration, respect and parental involvement for the entire school year. Whether your parent teacher meeting is in-person or virtual, we’ve gathered fresh tips and checklists to make the entire process more meaningful and hassle-free for everyone involved.
While each parent only has a few conferences to attend, teachers are holding conferences for all the parents in the classroom and they can be frustrating to conduct (and attend) without adequate preparation. The easiest part of the Parent Teacher conference should be scheduling the conference appointment! SignUp.com offers free, online Parent Teacher Conference SignUps that sync with eCalendars in real time – and can be accessed 24/7 from your smartphone, tablet, or computer. If you’re planning conference schedules for a whole school, we offer a Parent-Teacher Conference Concierge Service to speed your planning.
Check out our tips and suggestions to help the conference run smoothly, be more productive, and help all parties get the most out of this important short meeting.
There are a few steps teachers can take to host a successful Parent Teacher Conference. The first and most important aspect of the Parent Teacher Conference is attendance. If you can’t get the parents to attend the conference they will miss out on crucial information about their child.
Every teacher hopes for 100% participation when it comes to Parent Teacher Conferences. Research shows that family involvement improves school performance and social skills and can be a predictor for student success. Follow these three easy ideas to organize, schedule and remind parents for your easiest and most successful conferences ever!
- Schedule Parent-Teacher Conferences Online: With SignUp, teachers can easily create conference spots for single or multiple days and invite parents to sign up for the date and time that works best for them, or assign each parent to a specific time slot. Parents love that they can choose their appointment in about a minute from their smartphones, no password required. Both parents and teachers have access to the schedule 24/7 from mobile devices, automated reminders save teachers time and stress, and easy calendar syncing keeps everyone up-to-date in real time. Click here for a demo or watch this video to see how easy it is to use SignUp's platform.
- Make Use of Technology to Reach Parents: Today’s technology makes it easier than ever to have meaningful conferences virtually. By a using video conferencing tool like Zoom, Skype, or Facetime, teachers and parents can connect from almost anywhere, and it’s free! The easier you make it to connect, the more likely you are to have an engaged and successful parent-teacher relationship.
- Encourage Two-Way Communication: Although the amount of time allotted for student conferences is usually short, make sure you leave a few minutes to allow parents to offer feedback, express concern or ask questions. If the conversation seems to be running long, ask parents to schedule a longer conference at a later date. (SignUp is perfect for general office hours appointments, too!) Parents are more likely to support your efforts at home if they feel valued and heard.
Now that you have met with the parents and discussed their child’s assessments, it’s time for the follow-up.
As teachers, you know that follow-up is key after parent teacher conferences. But what you might not be focusing on is following up with your students. Students, when not included in the conference appointment, are often curious and slightly apprehensive about what you might have learned from their parents during the parent/teacher conferences.
Plan a short follow-up conference with your students to reassure them and develop a basic action plan for building on strengths and addressing learning opportunities. Even just a quick 5-10 minute conversation (we know how busy teachers are!) can make all the difference in a student's attitude and performance for the rest of the school year.
Use these helpful tips to build a deeper relationship with your students.
- Keep It Safe. Be wary of revealing anything you learned of a confidential nature from your student’s parents or guardians. Your student might feel betrayed by his parents if they’ve revealed something he wasn’t ready to share. Avoid embarrassing your student with funny stories you learned during the conference.
- Keep It Short. Try not to overwhelm your student with action items resulting from the conference. Simply touch base, give a broad overview of what was covered during the conference, and list one or two things that you can work on together.
- Keep It Reassuring. Students really want you to like their families, and they really want their families to like you. Everything will go smoother if the adults in a kid’s life are working collaboratively and getting along. Reassure your students that this is a collective team effort with the goal being success.
- Keep It Conversational. Remember that student/teacher conferences build good working relationships between you and your students. Avoid lecturing, or presenting a long to-do list. Respectfully listen as your students express concerns or opinions.
- Keep it Positive. Express your confidence in the student, and your belief that she can reach her potential in class.
- Keep it Stress-Free. If you teach virtually, use SignUp to coordinate your student appointments, too!
By involving your students directly in their education and creating an environment of mutual admiration and respect, everyone wins.
Parent Teacher Conferences are brief, high impact glimpses into the academic success of your child as a student. They are often short on time and can be frustrating without adequate preparation. Meeting with your child’s teacher is an important way to stay informed on the progress of your child and parent teacher conferences are also an exceptional way to develop a positive relationship, and establish meaningful communication with your student’s teacher. Make the most out of your Parent Teacher Conference by following this helpful checklist to maximize the effectiveness of the conference for both you and your child’s teacher.
- Before the Conference
- Sit down with your child before the conference and explain that you are meeting with her teacher to see how the school year is going. Ask her how she feels about school and if there is anything she wants you to specifically address with the teacher. Be sure to stress that she is not in any trouble – this meeting is to see how you can best support your child’s school efforts at home.
- Prepare a list of questions such as:
- What are my child's strongest and weakest subjects?
- Does my child turn in homework on time?
- Does my child participate in class?
- Does my child seem happy at school?
- How are my child's social skills?
- What can I do at home to support your efforts and my child's academic progress?
- How are my child's test-taking skills?
- Has my child missed any classes other than excused absences?
- If meeting virtually, be sure to download or access online the video conferencing software (Zoom, Skype, etc.) on which the teacher wants to connect. Sometime before the designated meeting time, open the software and familiarize yourself with the basic functions of connecting, accessing video, and testing your audio.
- During the Conference
- Be on time (or early) for the meeting. You’ll want every minute allotted to your conference!
- Ask the most important questions first.
- End the meeting on time. There is likely a conference after yours, and your child’s teacher will appreciate that you have respected the time constraints. If there is more to say, ask to schedule a longer conference on a different day.
- Remember to stay calm during the conference.
- Ask for specific examples or clarification of anything you don’t understand.
- Be sure to ask your child's teacher for ways you can support your child’s education at home.
- Don’t forget to thank the teacher for all he or she does for your child!
- After the Conference
- Your child may have some anxiety about the conference, so be sure to talk about it with him. Keep it positive, but mention any areas of concern. Talk to your child about any plans/ideas that came out of the conference.
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Get more helpful hints for a stress-free parent teacher conference season here!