The new school year is here with students returning to classrooms for academic learning. Now that students are settled and curriculum is in full swing, teachers have transitioned from their start of the school year planning and are now getting ready for important events including parent-teacher conferences.
Regular conferences throughout the school year are vital for student success. Due to their personalized nature, parent-teacher conferences provide great opportunities for one-on-one connections. Conferences can help to foster warm and trusting relationships between teachers, parents, and students.
During parent-teacher conferences, teachers can share with families how their student is positively progressing based on a variety of growth measures such as observations, assignments, and testing data. All of this feedback allows families to be better informed about their child’s strengths, needs, and learning styles. This knowledge can help parents better support their student with academic and personal growth, both in and out of school.
Before conferences begin, teachers are planning, scheduling, and coordinating. In many classrooms, parent-teacher conferences are a challenge due to the limited amount of time allocated for each family. All teachers want conferences to run smoothly, efficiently, and in a timely manner.
Read 7 Tips to be an All-Star at Your Next Parent-Teacher Conference to help you prepare.
Backward planning allows us to think about the end result and navigate the necessary steps to get us there. The same goes for parent-teacher conferences. While drafting a plan for parent-teacher conferences, incorporate these three ways to make them fun, interactive, and meaningful.
UP STUDENT INVOLVEMENT
Ultimately, parent-teacher conferences are student-centered. They are focused on clear communication regarding student progress. While teachers are a wealth of knowledge due to their keen observations and insightful academic analysis, students can, and should, provide meaningful information about their own learning experiences.
Talk to students about conferences and let them know what to expect. Students should be prepared to share highlights of their school year. To gear up student involvement, teachers should engage with each student to collect academic and other classroom artifacts and feedback to share with families during conferences.
Gather information from students in an individualized parent-teacher conference favorites folder and cater it to your classroom. Collect what resonates with you and your students.
- A favorite playground game or activity
- A favorite classwork sample from their classroom portfolio that highlights their mastery
- A favorite book they like to read or listen to at school
- A favorite Walkabouts lesson and what they learned
- A favorite piece of artwork they created and information on the medium they used
- A favorite learning app and instructions for accessing it at home
- A favorite free-time activity they like to do by themselves or with classmates
Students should connect to their favorites by speaking about their experiences through their direct input and if possible, leading the conference (with strong teacher support). Students will feel more ownership in their academic outcomes if the conferences are with them instead of about them.
WALK AROUND THE CLASSROOM TOUR
Teachers and students can show parents how the space supports learning with a Walk Around the Classroom Tour. In most classrooms, certain areas are designated to specific tasks, activities, and subject areas. Take families on a quick tour led by their child. Provide samples of student work at each stop throughout the tour or have samples available in the favorites folder to reference throughout the classroom journey. Showing spaces, practices, and outcomes at school can be helpful as families support their child’s learning at home.
SCHOOL COMMUNITY RESOURCE FAIR
Families are often at school for an extended period of time before their scheduled appointment or in-between conferences if they have more than one child at the school. Forget about sitting and waiting in the hallway until conference time comes and make the experience more interactive with a School Community Resource Fair.
Holding a resource fair in a common area (or the hall right outside your classroom) is a great way for parents to find out what the school and community have to offer their families. Invite a variety of school community partners who may already be on site to host tables to provide information, pass out giveaways, and connect with families.
- School Office Staff
- School Nurses and Community Health Professionals
- Media Specialists
- Specials Teachers
- Afterschool Staff
- School-Based Club Organizers
- Sports Coaches and Organizations
- Local Businesses that Provide Activities or Services for School-Age Children
These tips are sure to make parent-teacher conferences more engaging for everyone!
Continue to build engagement in and out of the classroom with Walkabouts. Walkabouts are web-based elementary lessons from Pre-K to 2nd grade that integrate movement with core subject areas. A school’s subscription to the Walkabouts platform includes access for teachers and students both at school and at home. If you’re not already moving and learning with Walkabouts, check out the Walkabouts subscription plan that’s right for you, and get started today!