Every year we talk about improving parent teacher conferences. As with anything, we strive for improvement not perfection! What do parents need from our 10 minutes together? What is going to really show what the students know? How can I show off what really happens in our room (because it’s not always test scores and grades). Here are a few tips that will hopefully answer one of those questions.
1 Invite Students- We gain more credibility if students are present. Students also deserve to hear what’s being said about them. Even the youngest of students can handle hearing they need to focus on letter sounds or writing their name. Oftentimes, the constructive criticism is more accepted from someone other than their parents.
2. Give the students responsibility for sharing about their learning (and maybe even what their scores mean). We can’t expect students to improve if they don’t know what they’re improving. Student-led conferences are well researched as a great way to begin building that responsibility. Be sure to keep their forms with you in case the student doesn’t show up. Simply create an assignment in Google Classroom, have the students complete it, resubmit it, then voila! It’s all ready for you to share with parents.
The parents love hearing their students talk about their learning because they tend to hear ‘nothing’ or ‘I don’t know’ more often than not. Student led conferences also take a little off your plate during the night of the conferences because you don’t have to repeat the same thing over and over again. Most of all, it is highly valuable for the students to take ownership of their own learning.
3. Show your classroom off. Have your Google Classroom or student creations handy to share with the parents. If the parents are anything like most of us, we carry a little “parent guilt” because we aren’t able to participate and volunteer as often as we would like at our children’s school. Give the parents a little taste of your room and what their child is creating, making, doing. In the culture of schools we live in, parents need and desperately want to know what’s going on once they drop their child off at the door.
One of my new favorite ways to show off is to use Augmented Reality. Have the students use the Aurasma app on their phones to create a video of them reading, working, building, etc. within your classroom using a worksheet or other image that they’ve used in your room. I’d love to help with this!
4. Share contact information with one another. We are all busy. We all forget and lose information. Giving parents our contact again opens the door of communication a little bit wider. You may also want to collect their preferred email and cell numbers down to verify how we’re communicating with them. Here is one template of providing information to parents.
As always, let me know if anything I mentioned interests you. I’m happy to help make this year’s parent teacher conference the best yet!