Thursday, March 17, 2011

Parent Teacher Conferences

Ah the joys of parent teacher conferences.  At our school all of the teachers set up at tables in the cafeteria mess hall so parents can easily meet with teachers and drill sergeants.  Although students miss the opportunity to share our classroom with their parents, I enjoy this set-up because it allows me to see parents of past students.  I can also eavesdrop on other teachers to see how they run a conference.  Some trends were obvious.

  • Data, data, and more data.  We brought WKCE results, most recent report cards, grade books, and I had my students' folders.
  • Sign in sheet.  This way we can collect the most up-to-date contact information for parents.
  • Business cards.  A quick and easy way for me to hand out my info to parents.
  • Graduation requirements.  This was specific to teachers with 8th and 12th grade students.  It was a nice reference tool.
  • Student's personal assessment.  In the past I have created a half slip of paper with report card comment options.  I have the students circle comments they feel apply to their performance in class and answer a few short questions about future goals.  They then staple a few pieces of recent work to the slip.  This was a great way to make the conference student centered and have work samples readily available.  I have the students reflect on their performance for their parents first, and then I build on what they say as we discuss future goals.  Finally, we review the work samples and parents can take the packet home.  (I wasn't able to get around to this for the most recent round of conferences and I really missed my packets!)
One of the most awesome parent teacher conferences I noticed was when a student's aunt came in to see a colleague. My colleague jumped up and they both hugged because they hadn't seen each other "in a while", which was actually just a few weeks.  The teacher texts the parent when work is more than a few days late or if there is a big assignment coming up.  I know she does this with several parents and it was so obvious that she had built fabulous relationships with them throughout the year.  Conferences were merely a formal meeting to recognize and celebrate a year-long relationship.  What a wonderful goal!  

What are your conference essentials?

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