Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tips for Holding Successful Conferences

Conference season is here!  It always seems so far away when we go back to school but then in sneaks in like a snake!  October is the month when everything "hits the fan" for me.  I know I am not alone!  We just finally get into the swing of things, the behaviors get under control, and then BOOM: Columbus Day.  Halloween.  Conferences.  End of Term.  Testing.  You get the drift!  I wanted to put together a post to share some of my best tips for holding successful conferences.  These are things that I have done for many years now and have made conferences go very smoothly.

Send home reminders--Everyone is busy.  Including parents.  I recommend sending a reminder home as soon as your schedule is ready.  You may also want to send an additional reminder the day of.

Be prepared--Sort out student materials ahead of time.  Have a file folder for each child.  Include test scores and work samples.  Put the file folders in order of your conference schedule {first conference of the night on top, last one on bottom}.  I also use an organizer that helps me remembe talking points for each child.  I fill these out ahead of time.  It's easy to get flustered and forget what you want to tell parents.

You will want to keep everything you'll need at your table with you.  My conferences are only 20 minutes and I am sure yours are short, as well.  You don't want to be flying around your room looking unprepared.  Here is what I keep on my table:

Include students--I do invite my students to their conferences.  It helps to include them in the discussion.  It seems to make more of an impact on the kids when they are included.  They love to hear what they are doing well and will benefit from you sharing the room for improvement areas. Obviously there are some instances where you will have to politely ask a child to "read in the hallway so you can talk to mommy/daddy."  Not everything should be discussed around a child, particularly if you are having trouble with him/her.

Keep to your schedule.  No matter what--You have to.  If not, you will have p***** off parents who are kept waiting in the hallway.  You will also be annoyed when your teammates are leaving and you are still sitting in a conference after the night is supposedly over because you ran over.  Keeping a timer on your table will keep you on track.  If you feel awkward about the timer, break the ice right away and let parents know that you want to keep on schedule and will be setting a timer.  If parents want to talk, talk, talk, and you are out of time, kindly let them know that you can call them to discuss their child another time.

Keep your guests in the hallway entertained while waiting--I recommend a basket of books for little ones and parents to read while waiting.  I also put out class books that we've made.  Kids love showing their parents those!  Crayons and coloring sheets/drawing paper are good ideas.  Most of the time, siblings will be along and they get fidgety while waiting!  I also have a desk set up for "The Giving Tree."  This is just a sign and some apple cards with things we need for the classroom. Parents can take an apple home if they'd like to donate something.

Be confident--No matter how long you've been teaching, there is always some anxiety before conferences.  Try to be yourself and be confident!  You are the expert.  You went to school for years for teaching.  You have the best interest of all of your children in mind.  Give yourself a pep talk before beginning!  You can do it!

Here is what I share with parents and how my conferences look.  I even keep a list of my run-down in front of me.  

1.  Introductions
2.  Ask if there are questions about the report card
3.  Ask how they feel their child likes school
4.  Share several positives
5.  Share any areas for improvement
6.  Review present levels/testing information
7.  Verify contact info. is still correct
8.  Invite students to write a note to their child
9.  Show giving tree
10. Give out resources/information on ways they can help their child
11. Give a small gift/treat

Check out the best-selling product in my store below!

For a chance to win my conference pack AND a Starbucks gift card, enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Post a Comment

Thanks for your comments!