Sunday, February 28, 2016

Parent Conferences With a Freebie

Hey y'all!  It's Bryce from [The Teaching Texan].  Today I'm sharing my top 5 tips for parent-teacher conferences.  

Yes, it's that time of year again!   Prepping for parent-teacher conferences can be time consuming and a ton of work, but it can sometimes be some of the most important time I spend on my kiddos during the year.  It's all about that relationship with parents and keeping them involved 
and informed about their child!

I can't stress this first tip enough!  Parents need to hear positive things about what their children are doing!  I've learned over the past few years that many parents are scared that they aren't doing a good job as a parent or that they've done something wrong.  Put their minds at ease by finding those good things to share about their child.  Even your most difficult child does SOMETHING positive each day - look for it, celebrate it, and share it!

On the same note, if a child is having behavior problems or issues with anything academic, don't let the parent-teacher conference be the first time the parent hears about it.  I learned this the hard way several years ago, and I can tell you that keeping that communication as open as possible is best for everyone involved.  Reach out early to share what you are noticing.  Parents will appreciate your openness and care for their child!

One thing I started doing this year that has helped me keep track of behavior, development, and parent communication is keeping a teacher binder that has a tab for each child.  Behind each tab is a page for social development notes, literacy notes, and mathematics notes.   

 I also keep observational assessment notes and Fountas & Pinnell assessments here.  By jotting down one or two notes about a child each week it helps me to see areas that are improving and areas that need focus.  It's also super helpful when I sit down to make my parent-teacher conference notes (see tip 5) to have anecdotal notes from several weeks!

Pick one or two skills that you would like parents to focus on at home with their child.  Don't overwhelm them by giving them a list of 10 things their child needs to work on.  Start small and work from there.

Please don't skip this step, even if you feel that a parent won't utilize the resources at home.  As an educator we  have no control over what parents do with their children at home.   However, if you make that decision for them by not providing resources they COULD use, then you've already done the child a disservice. 

One of my favorite resources for FREE literacy activities to send home is the [Florida Center for Reading Research].  FCRR has resources for literacy skills grades K-5 that are perfect for sending home because they come with a page of directions for teachers/parents.  It's so easy to make a list of kiddos that need to work on phoneme segmentation, a list of kiddos that need help with rhyming, etc. and then visiting FCRR to print off resources to be sent home.

My first year of teaching I did not follow this tip, and I think my parent-teacher conferences suffered because of it.  Once I opened the floor to parents and started by letting them share what they've noticed at home a whole new world of insight opened up to me.

You can learn so much by what the parents share!  You can see what they are honed into, what they are happy or excited about, what they are concerned about, and what their overall tone is entering the conference.

Be prepared for conferences by taking time to jot down some positive notes to share about the child, some goals for the child, and resources being sent home.  Having this page of notes helps structure the conference and makes sure that you don't forget to mention or discuss anything important.  This step may be the most time consuming, but I couldn't imagine entering a parent-teacher conference without it!

Grab a free copy of the simple notes page that I use [here]!

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