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March 14, 2018

10 Tips for Stress-Free Parent-Teacher Conferences

By Nancy Jang
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    In our district, we have parent-teacher conferences in November and in March. No matter what time of year the conferences are, it’s a great opportunity for me to touch base with caregivers and parents on their child’s progress and set goals for the next reporting period. However, the weeks leading up to conference week are hectic and stressful. I wish I was one of those teachers who had all of their grading done early and report cards printed and ready to go, but I’m not. I am the teacher who is working long hours, buried in grading the entire week before conference week to get prepared.

    This time, in an effort to preserve my own sanity and hopefully give you some pointers, I put together some time-saving tips to have our conferences run as smoothly as possible.

    1. Google Drive

    I use Google spreadsheets to have parents sign up for their conference times. If they need to cancel or change their appointment, parents can do that online at any time, without sending me 10 emails or calling the office to find an open appointment slot. This alone has saved me countless hours of calling and emailing multiple sets of parents to switch appointment times.

     I turn off the editing feature the week before conference week so that parents can’t move their appointment DURING conference week. Then I print the schedule and send home with students to create a reminder the Friday before conference week.

    2. Reminder Stickers

    In addition to the reminder sheet that goes home in their daily folders and a reminder email, I print reminders on address labels. I print a batch of reminder labels for the kids and stick them on their chests. I tell them that they can stick it on their parents as soon as they see them.

    3. Early Assessments

    This one is the most difficult for me to do consistently. The idea is to "backwards plan" and complete the administration of all assessments for that grading period two to three weeks before grades are due. Many of the assessments such as Bridges Math or DIBELS Reading Assessment must be administered one-on-one, so getting an early start on them is a must. I always start with my most proficient kids so that my kiddos that are receiving Response to Intervention have the benefit of another week of help.

    4. Immediate Grading

    It piles up like crazy and you are buried before you know it. If you can stay on top of grading, it makes entering report card grades a breeze. I’m still grading in the evenings at home and on the weekend, but the pile is much smaller when I start earlier.

    Then IMMEDIATELY enter the data or scores into the gradebook and file in the student conference folders as you finish. (I’m not naming names, but *someone* has misplaced GRADED assessments before they could be entered and it’s not fun tearing up the classroom or your house looking for them at the eleventh hour!)

    5. Filling in Report Cards

    Enter the report card grades in chronological order by the student's parent-teacher appointments, print it, proofread it, and file it into the student’s conference folder immediately after you complete it. Now your conference prep for your appointments are done and ready to go.

    6. Filing System

    Re-order your student conference files into chronological order by conference time and keep them in a file box. Normally I file my student work in alphabetical order by last name, but for conference week, it saves me time searching for the file if it's in the box in order by conference appointment. In the back of the box, I save the signature pages and move any files for parents that missed their conference appointments. On the front of the box I clip a copy of my conference schedule and cross off the appointments after the meeting.

    7. Supplies

    I keep a notepad and pens in the front of the file box for parents to write notes or if I need to write something down as well. Other supplies that I keep on the table: mints, water, tissues, and a timer!

    8. Dry Erase Sign

    I hang a dry erase sign on my classroom door. I change the student's name and time on the sign in between conferences so that incoming parents don’t interrupt conferences that are already in session.

    9. Rescheduling

    At the end of every day, I call and email parents that missed their conferences to reschedule. Many times, I can reschedule them into an existing open slot later during the week, other times, I reschedule for the following week.

    10. End on a High Note

    At the end of each meeting, I give parents a few resources so that they can support their child at home in areas of weakness, but I always end the conference with a comment on how proud I am of the child and the growth that they have made during the year so far.

    These tips have helped me make parent-teacher Conferences almost stress-free, and I hope that they help you as well. What are some tips that help you have a great conference week? Please share!

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

     

    In our district, we have parent-teacher conferences in November and in March. No matter what time of year the conferences are, it’s a great opportunity for me to touch base with caregivers and parents on their child’s progress and set goals for the next reporting period. However, the weeks leading up to conference week are hectic and stressful. I wish I was one of those teachers who had all of their grading done early and report cards printed and ready to go, but I’m not. I am the teacher who is working long hours, buried in grading the entire week before conference week to get prepared.

    This time, in an effort to preserve my own sanity and hopefully give you some pointers, I put together some time-saving tips to have our conferences run as smoothly as possible.

    1. Google Drive

    I use Google spreadsheets to have parents sign up for their conference times. If they need to cancel or change their appointment, parents can do that online at any time, without sending me 10 emails or calling the office to find an open appointment slot. This alone has saved me countless hours of calling and emailing multiple sets of parents to switch appointment times.

     I turn off the editing feature the week before conference week so that parents can’t move their appointment DURING conference week. Then I print the schedule and send home with students to create a reminder the Friday before conference week.

    2. Reminder Stickers

    In addition to the reminder sheet that goes home in their daily folders and a reminder email, I print reminders on address labels. I print a batch of reminder labels for the kids and stick them on their chests. I tell them that they can stick it on their parents as soon as they see them.

    3. Early Assessments

    This one is the most difficult for me to do consistently. The idea is to "backwards plan" and complete the administration of all assessments for that grading period two to three weeks before grades are due. Many of the assessments such as Bridges Math or DIBELS Reading Assessment must be administered one-on-one, so getting an early start on them is a must. I always start with my most proficient kids so that my kiddos that are receiving Response to Intervention have the benefit of another week of help.

    4. Immediate Grading

    It piles up like crazy and you are buried before you know it. If you can stay on top of grading, it makes entering report card grades a breeze. I’m still grading in the evenings at home and on the weekend, but the pile is much smaller when I start earlier.

    Then IMMEDIATELY enter the data or scores into the gradebook and file in the student conference folders as you finish. (I’m not naming names, but *someone* has misplaced GRADED assessments before they could be entered and it’s not fun tearing up the classroom or your house looking for them at the eleventh hour!)

    5. Filling in Report Cards

    Enter the report card grades in chronological order by the student's parent-teacher appointments, print it, proofread it, and file it into the student’s conference folder immediately after you complete it. Now your conference prep for your appointments are done and ready to go.

    6. Filing System

    Re-order your student conference files into chronological order by conference time and keep them in a file box. Normally I file my student work in alphabetical order by last name, but for conference week, it saves me time searching for the file if it's in the box in order by conference appointment. In the back of the box, I save the signature pages and move any files for parents that missed their conference appointments. On the front of the box I clip a copy of my conference schedule and cross off the appointments after the meeting.

    7. Supplies

    I keep a notepad and pens in the front of the file box for parents to write notes or if I need to write something down as well. Other supplies that I keep on the table: mints, water, tissues, and a timer!

    8. Dry Erase Sign

    I hang a dry erase sign on my classroom door. I change the student's name and time on the sign in between conferences so that incoming parents don’t interrupt conferences that are already in session.

    9. Rescheduling

    At the end of every day, I call and email parents that missed their conferences to reschedule. Many times, I can reschedule them into an existing open slot later during the week, other times, I reschedule for the following week.

    10. End on a High Note

    At the end of each meeting, I give parents a few resources so that they can support their child at home in areas of weakness, but I always end the conference with a comment on how proud I am of the child and the growth that they have made during the year so far.

    These tips have helped me make parent-teacher Conferences almost stress-free, and I hope that they help you as well. What are some tips that help you have a great conference week? Please share!

    Happy Teaching,

    Nancy

     

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