Things to do before the parent arrives:
1) A week or so before conferences, use your class list to write a positive comment on each child for example, "Jane has really improved in her organizational skills. I noticed last week she had all her homework written down." This doesn't necessarily have to relate to academics. A statement relating to the child's social skills is fine. The parents need to feel that you really know and like their child as a person.
2) Have a folder for each child. In that folder should be a copy of the most recent report card, any pertinent assessment data, anecdotal notations that explain the child's performance, and current work that you'd like to share. A form or notebook paper for taking notes on the conference is also helpful, especially for keeping current with things on which you need to follow up.
During the conference:
1) If you have a round table, that would be a good place to hold the conference. If not, make sure that all of you are sitting at the same level and can easily communicate. If you are conferencing with just one parent, it is more comfortable for the parent to be sitting next to you, not across from you.
2) It may be helpful to begin the conference saying to the parent, "Would you like to start? Are there any things you'd like to share with me first?" This allows the parents to discuss anything that's currently on their minds, so that when you begin your comments, they are ready to listen.
3) Make sure that you begin your comments with something positive and personal about the child (refer to your list before the conference if you need to do so). "Bill is such a hard worker. Yesterday, he came up to check on the special challenges in Language Arts and really got involved in the Ocean Match Challenge."
4) Thank the parents for coming. Let them know how you can be contacted if they have any questions or information they'd like to share during the year.
After the conference:
1) Make sure you follow through on any action items you discussed with the parents, and let them know the outcome.
2) Make sure your principal or counselor knows of any concerns you have regarding the conference.