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With the second half of the school year underway, the following weeks will be full of parent-teacher conferences across all districts.
KidsHealth explains that these brief meetings with students’ caregivers can present teaching professionals with the perfect opportunity to discuss and share academic progress and growth based on classroom observations, testing data, assessments, and other assignments.
Learn some of the most important steps for ensuring that parent-teacher conferences can foster a positive conversation for all participants.
Preparing in Advance
As parent-teacher conferences are typically conducted within a 10-to-30-minute window, it is important for teachers to set aside any necessary or relevant materials and to consider the goal of each conversation. Whether conferences are to be held remotely or in person, taking the time to prepare in advance will help to maximize the benefit of conferences for both teachers and parents.
Throughout the school year, document any notable observations you make regarding students’ academics or behavior. Minimize your administrative workload leading up to conferences by selecting three to five assignments as progress points for all students while creating your curriculum. By doing this in advance, you create a standardized, classroom-wide method of evaluation and can easily tailor each conversation to the unique performance of individual students. This strategy will also spare you the time and stress of gathering materials for conferences the week or even day of.
The experts at KidsHealth also recommend creating an outline or agenda for each meeting and sending that to parents prior to the conference so that they know what to expect during your conversation.
For any remote parent-teacher conferences, scanning, uploading, and sharing any relevant materials in advance will prevent the potential of technology taking away time from the actual discussion.
Promoting Parent Attendance
One of the most important goals of an effective parent-teacher conference is getting the student’s family involved with their academics. However, ensuring parents actually attend conferences can be a major task in and of itself, as many can find it difficult to attend due to work or other scheduling conflicts.
The National Education Association provides several tips for increasing attendance at parent-teacher conferences, including being flexible with the meeting time, date, and location. Given the current concerns surrounding in-person meetings, video conferencing options can actually prove to be highly beneficial for promoting more parent involvement.
Once you have scheduled meetings either in person or remotely, sending a confirmation email as well as a reminder on the day of will help to curb any potential absences. If a parent still does not attend during their set time, utilize your free moment to send an email to see if rescheduling is an option, or, if possible, send a brief summary of what you planned to discuss during the conference.
Sharing Useful Feedback
In a perfect world, every conference would be a positive discussion where students’ achievements are shared. However, there is a high likelihood that teachers will need to utilize this time to bring attention to any areas for feedback.
Leadership coach and former curriculum developer Joe Hirsch recommends avoiding the commonly used “feedback sandwich” method where teachers mention a problem as well as two positive observations. Instead, approach the parent as your partner in finding a solution.
To help make these conversations less difficult, Hirsch says teachers should follow a step-by-step framework of context, observations, emotions, value, and input. Sharing the full circumstances surrounding your concern will help to contextualize the problem at hand and give parents an opportunity to provide their perspective on how to best resolve it moving forward.
Working with parents to create an action plan will help to improve students’ performance in the long term. As video calls can make it more difficult to communicate successfully due to a lag in response time and lack of clear body language, following this strategy can help to minimize the potential for any miscommunications.
As educators continue to evolve their curriculum and teaching style for distance learning, technology is both a critical solution and a potential obstacle for successful classroom management.
At TCI, we provide flexible and adaptable solutions for every unique classroom. Learn more about our digital features and how you can create a more engaging digital learning environment.