Designing and facilitating effective parent-teacher conferences is an important skill which requires intentional focus. This strategy provides you with guidance and resources regarding how to productively prepare for, engage in, and follow up on parent conferences. The parent-teacher conference can be an opportunity for you and families to co-develop goals for students. This strategy also provides you with an opportunity to explore the effectiveness and impact of goal-setting parent conferences where you value parents as partners and important contributors to their child's academic success.
Identify the parent-teacher conference times for the school year and share those dates with families as soon as possible.
Find out what families will need in order to engage in conferences (flexible time, child care, virtual meeting options, etc.), and connect with your administrator to provide the necessary supports.
Using one of the resources listed below, prepare for conferences by identifying each student's strengths and recommended next steps. Invite students to identify work samples to share with families, and, if possible, invite students to the conferences.
To ensure that there is ample time during the conference for families to ask and receive answers to questions and to address any concerns, invite the family member and/or student to open the conference.
Follow-up on any next steps you agree to with families.
If the time allotted by your school for conferences doesn't provide you with enough time to have meaningful conversations with each students' family, what are some ways you can create a space for those conversations to occur?
Refer to this Initial Student Goal Setting Data Conference template and view the video from Flamboyan in the resource section below to learn more about Goal Setting Parent Teacher Conferences.
For students whose parents are not fluent in English, teachers and/or schools should do their best to provide the following resources:
Contact information for bilingual staff to whom families can reach out when they have a question for the teacher or school.
A spoken translation service for teachers to use for parent phone calls and conferences.
If your school does not provide a translation service, consider using a tech tool like Google Translate to send text messages or emails to parents in their preferred language.
Alternatively, consider asking a bilingual colleague or friend to help you facilitate a phone call or meeting.
A written translation service for teachers to translate parent materials (i.e. syllabi, permission slips, notices about upcoming deadlines) into languages spoken by families
If your school does not provide a translation service, consider using a tech tool like Google Translate to send documents to parents in their preferred language.
Family-level "bilingual buddies" who can help non-English-speaking parents navigate instructional materials. Bilingual parents can be given the opportunity at the start of the year to volunteer to support parents who don't speak English.
Google Translate is a free Google Add-On allowing for the translation of basic sentences from English to multiple foreign languages and vice versa
This tool can support this strategy by making it easier to translate written material for parents ahead of the conference or after. It can also help during the meeting itself translating basic sentences.
Remind is a tool that teachers and schools can use to keep families informed about what’s happening in the classroom and at the school (i.e., celebrations, projects, field trips, assessments, deadlines).
See the lessons below for examples of how BetterLesson Master Teachers had students lead their own parent conferences.