Thursday, November 24, 2016

Parent Teacher Conferences

I started teaching in a new district this year, and to my surprise, they have parent teacher conferences every fall. I had only known these to be an elementary school event, so I was surprised and excited to try them out at the high school level! Everyone told me to print the student grade report and use that as a basis for my conversation with parents regarding student progress in my Spanish class. However, I wanted to do something more than that. 

In the weeks leading up to parent teacher conferences I did print the student grade reports. I highlighted assignments and grades of concern and wrote notes. The averages for the breakdown of the grade categories (homework, participation, assessments) were also highlighted. This information was the starting point for me figuring out what to discuss with parents. 

In addition to the highlighted grade report, I wanted to create a quick handout where I outlined things that the student does well in my Spanish class, things that can be improved, and which goals the students should have moving forward. In addition, I provided a list of the useful websites for our class as well as my contact information. I emphasized the times that I was available for extra help, too. I have this form available for free here: Student Reflection Form for Parent Teacher Conferences

I completed that form for the ~20 students for whom I had conferences scheduled but realized it was a great opportunity to encourage student reflection as well. Therefore, the morning of the parent teacher conferences, I asked all of my students to complete the form as a reflection of their own progress during the first quarter. Students completed the form without seeing what I had written about them. I collected their reflections, photocopied those for which I had conferences, and scanned all of them so I had them on file. 

Next, I compiled a packet of information for each of the parents with whom I had a conference. The packet included: 
- the grade report with highlighted areas of concern
- the student reflection form that I completed
- the student reflection form that the student completed
- the Lend an EAR to Student Success Handout

I began each 10 minute conference with a quick summary of student performance based on the highlighted grade report. I pointed out the assignments on which the student did well as well as assignments that could have been revisited (I allow quiz retakes under certain parameters in my class). 

Next, I showed parents the student reflection form that I had filled out alongside the reflection form the student had filled out. We compared the two and discussed any discrepancies in perceptions of student progress. For example, if I felt that Johnny struggled with completing homework but Johnny said that completing homework was his strength, we discussed that point more closely. Having the highlighted grade report was a nice resource to use at this point in order to look at the actual grade percentages. 

I ended the conversation with a reminder of the Lend an EAR to Student Success Handout that I had handed out during Open House earlier in the year. The handout has a few general tips with a snazzy acronym to support parents in helping their student succeed in the classroom. The handout is available for FREE on my TPT store so check it out!

Overall, I received very positive feedback from the parents about the conferences. In particular, they loved comparing the student reflection form that I had completed with the one their student completed. A few even said how clever the idea was! I am fortunate to work in a district where the parents are extremely supportive, and they truly appreciated the packet of helpful information I handed out. 

Do you have any ideas for carrying out successful parent teacher conferences? Comment below!

Happy teaching!

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