- In the weeks prior to PTC Collect samples of student work, record impressions of student progress and behavior.
- Plan how students will be involved in the conference. If students are presenting work or progress, give them a chance to look over materials and prepare.
- Contact parents (note, email, etc.) telling them you’re looking forward to meeting them to discuss their child’s progress.
- Come up with a system for parents to easily schedule a time to see you. (Some schools run their PTC differently, so check with your principal if you’re unsure.)
- A day before PTC, remind parents about the conference!
- For parents who are unable to physically attend, arrange for a make-up conference. For tech-savvy parents, consider scheduling a virtual face-to-face meeting using Skype or FaceTime.
- Brainstorm questions parents might ask and plan your answers. Think about ways parents support their child’s learning outside the classroom. Create a list of educational resources (websites and apps, special programs, books, etc.), then highlight specific ones that are a good fit for each student.
- If there’s a specific conference you’d like another staff member (your principal, special education teacher, school psychologist, translator, etc.) to be a part of, let them know ahead of time.
- Look ahead in your schedule for times when you can meet/talk with parents who need additional time with you. Be prepared to suggest these times if a conference goes over time.
- Bring a notebook or something to write down a post-PTC to-do list (things you’ll need to check on, things to implement with specific students, etc.)
- Pack snacks for conference days! Bring plenty of water and a non-messy snack to help give you energy. PTC can go fast, but you’ve got a whole class to do, so be prepared!
- Start and end on time. It shows respect for everyone and will help make sure you’re not there until crazy late.
- Share a quick agenda at the start of each conference so parents know what you will cover and what the general timing of the conference.
- Listen to parents! They usually know their kid really well and may have some valuable insight for you!
- Ask parents how they feel the school year is going and how they feel their child is doing.
- Be positive. Share several specific examples of the child’s strengths, successful performance on projects and behavior.
- Share true concerns. Choose one or two opportunities for improvement ties to age appropriate skills and standards. Seek feedback from the parent (and student, if present) to form a plan.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions! “Is there anything you think I should know that would help me serve your child better?”
- Without being nosy, ask parents to keep you informed about home/family situations can affect their child’s learning and school work (e.g. family illness, divorce, job loss).
- Invite parents to participate! Parents are a great resource with a wide range of experiences and skills. When parents participate in their child’s education, it shows their children that they value education (which helps lead to student success). Plan ways for parents to participate both at school and from home.
- Keep a count-down timer handy with a gentle alert 5 or 3 minutes prior to the conference end time.
- Suggest a time to continue the conference if you start to go over time. Politely assure parents that you are very interested in discussing the issue further, but that you need to meet with the next family.
- Thank parents for attending and be genuine about it. Without their support, students in their class would have a really tough time succeeding!
Give parents a small sheet with your contact information on it (and any other important resources, like school website, class blog, etc.). This will ensure continued communication.
- Follow through on any action items you discussed with parents (check your to-do list). Let them know the outcome.
- Tell your principal or administrator any concerns you have regarding the conference.
- (Bonus tip: BREATHE! and congratulate yourself and your fellow teachers for surviving! Take yourself out to dinner or take a warm bubble bath. You deserve it!)
For administrator looking to give their faculty some tips and ideas, here’s a great 8 page printable packet from the Harvard Family Research Project or a 3 page printable packet from Washoe County School District (NV).