On the day of the conference, it doesn’t hurt to send an additional reminder. I stuck these little reminder stickers on my students’ shirts and they did the trick!
Now that you are ready for conferences, make sure to organize EVERYTHING for each child. Have a folder with lots of work ready to go as well as papers that need to be signed, permission slips for upcoming events, Donors Choose releases, etc. You will feel much more prepared for parents if you have everything ready to go.
During the Conference:
1. Start and end with positives. Parents will be more willing to hear you out on the areas that need improvement, if they feel that you like their child and see positives.
2. I don’t show the report card immediately, I prefer to have the child share their work and explain what we had to do on the assignment. Once parents see the work, they are better able to understand the grades on the report card. *I should also note here that the grades shouldn’t be a surprise. Graded work can go home on a consistent basis so that parents aren’t blindsided at conferences. If there are big concerns, those should be communicated early in the year, possibly spoken about multiple times prior to the conference.
3. Have data ready. This is especially handy when you are trying to explain areas of weakness. You saying that a child is behind in reading doesn’t mean much, but if you show them a graph with your class data and show a parent where the child is, your feedback will be more valuable and parents will understand why you are bringing up the concerns.
4. Be specific. If their child is struggling in reading, explain how they are behind. Maybe they don’t know their letter sounds, how to blend, or are struggling with comprehension. Hearing “your child is behind in reading” can mean very different things. When you are specific, parents will have something to work towards at home.
5. Be prepared with strategies parents can use at home to help their child. I realized I kept referring to the same advice over and over again during conferences. So I put together a foldable book for parents to refer back to. Parents appreciated having this tool to help their child with at home.