Planning for parent conferences? This post includes 5 tips for preparing + two free parent conference forms you can use to make parent conference prep as painless as possible. Perfect for elementary grades 1-5.
Are you in the throes of prepping for parent conference chaos? Around conferences everything seems to come together like a perfect storm that can turn your classroom and personal life into crazytown. ‘Tis the season!
If you’re hoping to check parent conference prep off your never ending to do list, here are a few tips and resources you can use to make that parent conference planning as painless as possible.
Parent Conference Tip #1: Send Home a Parent Conference Preview
At least a week before conferences, send home a Parent Conference Preview that asks parents to circle from a list of ideas what they most want to talk with you about during your conference, as well as how long they want their child to attend. The information you get from these forms can be super helpful in your conference planning and can give you some extra time to prepare for any unexpected questions, so you can have materials or samples of student work ready to go. These are also helpful in letting you know what parents really want to know most about. It’s always enlightening to see who cares more about test scores and who wants to know more about their child’s behavior. Want a copy? Sign up at the bottom of this post and an editable template will be sent to your email!
Parent Conference Tip #2: Create Student Progress Notes for Parents to Keep
These can take on a variety of forms, but I always like to have something parents can take with them to sum up their child’s progress. That way if we don’t have time to talk about a certain academic or behavioral area, or a parent is unable to make the conference, everything is on the info page they take home. My reporting page of choice is personalized for each student in the areas of reading, writing, math, and behavior. If you want to use the same Conference Notes page that I do, there is an editable copy available at the end of this post. Once you edit the Conference Notes template you can copy and paste one page to fill out for every student. Yes it takes time to create one for every student, but once you do you have EVERYTHING you need in front of you, plus it will be on your computer and you can copy and paste for upcoming conferences. Work up front will save you so much time and stress later!
Parent Conference Tip #3: Have Something Outside your Classroom for Parents to do
Have you recently taught your students a math game or read a super fun mentor text? Have these items outside your classroom so students can play with or show their parents. Having files of student work or a box of student writing from your latest Author’s Chair for parents to look at while they wait is also a nice touch, but can raise your stress level if these aren’t already organized. You can also put out volunteer projects like lamination cutting or stapling papers if you have something self explanatory. Pentominoes (affiliate link) and student writing are my top 2 go to PTC “while you wait” items. You can read more about pentominoes at this blog post HERE.
Parent Conference Tip #4: Make it Comfortable
Simple touches like having a lamp on your table, finding a round table so everyone feels on equal footing, having a bowl of candy, or simply making sure you have chairs large enough for all the adults who will be present (it’s always awkward when step-dad gets the kindergarten chair) are all part of the details that make a difference. Plus, if you’re going to be sitting for 9+ hours it’s always nice to feel cozy.
Parent Conference Tip #5: Take Care of YOU
Don’t overdo it! Don’t have time to create personalized notes for every student or buy a bowl of candy because you need to eat and sleep? Everyone will live! Just do what you can and keep some healthy snacks nearby so you don’t keel over from exhaustion (maybe try to sneak your favorite coffee drink during your planning time too). The #1 thing parents want to see is that you know and care about their kid, and you do. So, keep on keeping on Super Teacher! You’ve got this!
Get a copy of the editable parent conference forms!
If you would like an EDITABLE copy of the parent conference forms from Tips #1 and #2, you can get the FREE exclusive parent conference pages which include editable copies of the Parent Conference Preview and Conference Notes sent right to your inbox. Just sign up below and check your email.
Do you have any other tips for making parent conferences go as smoothly as possible? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!