Plan Ahead & Be Prepared
Being planned and prepared brings a sense of peace to a person. Personally, I start planning for parent teacher conferences about 2 weeks prior to the actual meeting. One of my favorite ways to plan and prepare is by sending home a preconference questionnaire. Ever since I have started doing this, I am no longer caught off guard by an issue or question that I haven’t prepared myself to answer. I give my families plenty of time to respond to the questionnaire so that I receive quality content from them. You can grab your own copy for FREE here:
Prior to conferences, I ask my students to complete a self-evaluation. I like it because it makes the students aware of the different topics that I will be sharing with their parents. It also serves as a nice conversation starter for areas that need improvement. You can grab your own copy for FREE here:
Dress for Success
The way a person dresses is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. When a person is dressed for success they maintain respect and establish credibility. I think it’s important that we, as teachers, make a good impression upon parents during a parent teacher conferences. This will help foster a productive relationship to help the child excel in the classroom.
Show them Respect
When my parents come into my classroom for parent teacher conferences, I will meet them at my classroom door with a smile on my face. I always look them in the eye and shake their hand as I thank them for coming. I also use their name when I greet them. If that means you have a little cheat sheet to remind yourself of their name, then do it. Showing your families respect is important. It starts off the interaction on a positive note. When the conference is over, I always walk them out and thank them again for coming.
Warm and Welcoming Environment
Families notice the little things. Take some time to make your classroom and hallway warm and inviting. I like to display student work in the hallway for parents to look at while they are waiting for their conference time to start. I also set up a table in the hallways that includes student-created class books, photo slide show, thank you sign with mints, and paper for parents to write a note of encouragement to their child. These notes get hung in the child’s locker and usually stays there all year!
Compliment Sandwiches are your Friend
Have you heard of a compliment sandwich? These are essential when it comes to organizing your words that you deliver to your families. A compliment sandwich is when you start with a compliment, then give an area to improve upon, and end with another compliment. For example, “Sarah has been working really hard in math. She is working on getting her math facts to be automatic. I think with her dedication and continued practice, she will get there.” The compliment sandwich technique could also be applied to the entire conference conversation. Start the conference with a funny story, compliment, etc. Then move into some areas for that child to improve. Finish up the conference with a positive message. The final words in the conversation are memorable to the families, make it positive and keep your school to home relationships healthy.
Think about the seating arrangement in your parent teacher conference meetings. I have read a lot about this and some of the things I have learned are to create a seating environment that doesn’t seem like a confrontational setting. I like to position my parents so that their back is to my door. This will create for less distractions for them. It will also make them feel as if they aren’t blocked into the classroom if they are the ones that are nearest the door. I know that probably sounds funny but it’s a small detail to think about. I also like to have adult sized chairs and tables to meet at for conferences. Don’t make your parents sit in your little chairs at the little tables.
If you are looking for other conference resources to add to your collection to help make conferences less stressful, check out these products. Simply click on the image below for a direct link to grab these for free! Feel free to pin these images to your Pinterest boards for future reference and to share with your teacher friends!