First off, I always start with a positive. This seems like a no-brainer until you get in the position where you have a lot to say and so little time to say it. Spending time on a little positive will get you much further than starting on what needs to be said. (And quite possibly negative.) We all know those parents that we have been awaiting a conference all quarter, but it is important to remember to take a few moments to talk about positive things that are happening. If I can’t think of anything positive, which is very rare, I will usually say something like this.
Grades. The reason why the parents are there. Dun! Dun! Dun! When I am going through grades in my grade book, whether it is academic or behavior, I am very careful when there is an “Improving” and a “Needs Improvement” grade. Nine times out of ten, I will choose improving. This is not to say the student doesn’t need to work on anything, it just means I have seen improvement, and it is noticeable. If for some reason I have to give a “Needs Improvement” grade, I always have an intervention in mind to show how we are going to follow through on an intervention for that student.
To me, if the student is not improving, I am not doing my job to the fullest. I consider myself a good teacher, so most if not all my students are improving. Am I going to tell that parent their student needs to work on something? You bet I am! Just keep in mind that you can send the same message to parents, without checking that big red box.
Let’s face it, there are so many things that go into reading progress. I like to select a text we are reading, and have the student read to me in front of parents. This way, I can show them exactly what their child needs to work on. I know this is also helpful to many parents, because kids sometimes don’t read in the same way to their parents as they do in their reading groups with me. A lot of parents are usually really surprised during the first conferences because they didn’t realize the fluency and the capabilities that their children have when reading.
Click here to download my editable behavior chart!
As our conference comes to a close, I always ask if there are any questions, comments, and/or concerns. I have always found this to be so important because they have to feel comfortable coming to you first. If there are no questions, I will ask them if they are getting my weekly newsletters and emails. I will also ask if they understand all paperwork coming home like my parent communication logs. I also ask about the social aspect of their child. How are they doing on the playground? What do they say about school when they get home?
Most parents are willing to share any suggestions or feedback after you invite them to a question. This sets the tone for the whole year because you are inviting the questions, comments, and concerns. This is a great way to let parents know that you are an open door, and that you will be taking a proactive approach on anything that might come up during the year!