It’s that time of the year when parent/teacher conferences take place. Our district gives us two half days to conduct thirty conferences. However most of my students’ parents work out of town and I would accommodate them by working around their work schedule so I could meet with them. It usually took me a week working between 12 and 15 hours to meet with parents. In addition, I would allot 10 – 15 minutes per appointment and I always felt rushed explaining to a parent their child’s progress.
After years of conducting conferences in the traditional style, I began to search for a different way of conducting conferences. I attended a presentation by Maria Paredes, who is a WestEd Senior Program Associate, and I brought back her ideas to use for my conferences.
First, I wrote a letter to the parents explaining that I would be changing the format of my conferences and that instead of meeting for 10 – 15 minutes all parents would be meeting together for one hour. Furthermore, I explained that to truly be a parent/teacher conference students would not be allowed to attend so that parents would not be distracted.
Next, I scheduled the meeting at 7:00 p.m. to accommodate working parents. When I meet with parents, each parent has a detailed folder with their child’s academic progress and we also discuss class academics and goals. No discipline issues are discussed because I want the focus of the conference to be on academics and discipline issues are addressed throughout the year.
After my presentation, I open up the meeting to answer any questions or concerns parents may have and I encourage parents to interact with each other.
By implementing a new conference format, time meeting with parents has been reduced from 15 hours to one hour and parent participation has increased due to accommodating their work schedule and meeting in the evening.
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