Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Parent Conferences

Just finished fall conferences with parents.  I have kind of a love/hate relationship with conferences.  Once I get into the thick of conferences, I actually enjoy them.  It is enlightening to visit with parents and their child, and usually, the conversation leads to shared understandings and doors that open to various ways to help the students improve.  The part I dislike is the preparation.  In our district, we used to have a prep day for getting ready for conferences.  With the budget cuts of recent years, that prep time is gone, and the gathering of information and printing reports is all done on my own time.  So, by the time I actually get to sit down with parents, I'm already exhausted.  Then there's always that bit of uncertainty that causes anxiety.  Will parents be positive and supportive, or is there one who is upset with me and can't wait to unload on me?   Usually parents are VERY supportive, but you just never know quite what to expect.
I always put together a packet of information about the students' progress, such as a grade report including scores for individual assignments and tests, data on reading fluency and comprehension, samples of class work, a self-evaluation completed by the child, and so on.  This packet is sent home to parents in advance of our conference.  I ask them to have a private conference with their child to discuss the information before they come to see me.  I think parents appreciate having this information ahead of time.  It  gives them an opportunity to prepare for the conference as I have prepared.  They have an opportunity to absorb and think about the scores and grades.  They are then in a position to ask questions and offer insight and suggestions. 
My conferences this week were very enjoyable and helpful.  I have a great bunch of kids this year, and they come with great parents!

And now I have two days off for "Fall Recess".  Hooray!  I need it!

The self-evaluation form that my students complete before each conference is available free in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.