Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rock Your Conferences!

Hi all!  Fall is such a busy time of year getting to know your littles, getting into a routine (both school and home) and lots of time spent planning and preparing for what feels like a never-ending to do lists.

How many of you cringe at the thought of parent conferences?  Years ago, my hand would be up.  I was always SO nervous to meet with parents and discuss their children.  I never knew what to talk about.  You don't have a class on that in college!  Mix that with all those comments others tell non-mommy teachers about how their teaching will change once you have kids of your own.  I NEVER believed that...  bam.  10 years later-oh my word.  They were right.

I have a few tips to have a successful parent conference-no matter how many hours you will be putting in...  (I put in over 14 hours in 1 1/2 days....  well, not even a half.  My first day is about 13-13.5 hours... and I will have about 2 hours the following morning)

Tip 1:
Don't just stick with "scores" or data.  Trust me.  Eyes will glaze over.  As a teacher, if my children's teachers went over data, I'd be fine.  My husband on the other hand---no clue.  In fact, stay clear of acronyms too!  Parents just want to know how their child is doing.  Are they on target?  How can they help at home to get them to the target.  Chances are, 99.9% of parents know how their child is doing.... telling them how poorly their child is doing doesn't help the home front.  This also includes going over standards...  With all the negative press around standards (especially that Common Core one! ;) ), you don't want to find yourself in a heated conversation over those!  

{Numbers are important---but shouldn't be a central focus of your conference.  Try having student goals and teacher goals to talk about too!}

Tip 2:
Make sure you have enough positives to tell parents!  This comes from a mama who has "difficult" children at home.  Honestly speaking, most nights/days I feel like I'm a failure of a parent.  I know my kids are good at school, with no discipline problems... but at home, they are quite opposite, as most kids are.  Sitting in a conference with my children's teachers and hearing about things they are doing well, such as being a good friend, or helping out in the classroom... makes my heart melt and reassures me that maybe I am doing a good job at being that thing called a "mom."  ;)  The last thing I want to hear is how my child talks a lot, which I totally know he does.  He's cursed, like his mama, being a verbal learner... We need to talk to process things!  Did you know there was such a thing?!  I didn't learn about it till I was in grad school.... and finally all of my life fell into place.

Tip 3:
Include parents in the conversation!  Ask THEM questions.  Don't always send things home beforehand.  I like to interview them.  I have a few questions I ask, which also keeps the conversation going and in the right direction.

Tip 4:
Know something personal about each student.  Looking for this not only gets you to know your students better, but it also lets parents know you care.  I know when I sit in conferences, I want to know that the teacher is looking out for the best in my child.  I want to know a name or 2 of kids he plays with.  I want to know that he is OK in the social realm of things!  Now, knowing every little detail about each student is quite an impossible task.... so I usually ask the students a little bit about school and friends beforehand too.

Tip 5:
Be organized.  Spend a little time putting together information.  I put all of the above together on a recording sheet that I allow parents to keep after the conference.

 take the parents interview and take important notes on a special recording sheet that I created as well.  Click on the picture to check it out in my store!  I have included a "semi" editable file for you to type in student names and notes.  I hope it can help you rock your conferences like it has mine (and quite a few of my coworkers--who are excited about conferences because they could use the forms!) and has your parents leaving your room feeling a sense of pride of their child, no matter where they are in abilities and behavior.

 If you like my organizational tools, please check it out {HERE}!!!

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