Parent-Teacher Conferences can be scary, especially as a new teacher.
As a child, I was always terrified of public speaking. I would shake uncontrollably and I could feel my heart beating rapidly in my chest.
But for some reason, I always felt comfortable around kids.
For adults, however, I have always been terrified!
So you could imagine my horror when I realized that I had to be in charge of the first Parent-Teacher Conferences.
My first Parent-Teacher Conference, I was shaking, stumbling and I had no idea what I was doing.
As time went on, however, I started to gain some tips on how to host Parent-Teacher Conferences like a pro or Veteran Teacher.
That’s why I want to share with you my top tips on how to host Parent-Teacher Conferences in a confident and organized way.
I am going to teach you how to not only have a good Parent-Teacher Conference but how to have your parents leave with a smile.
So let’s get started!
(This post may contain affiliate or external links. Meaning I get a commision if you purchase anything through my links at no cost to you. Read full disclosure here.)
Why are Parent-Teacher Conferences Important?
Before we talk about actionable tips to use while meeting with families, I want to talk about the importance of Parent-Teacher Conferences.
There are a lot of teachers that dread parent-teacher conferences because:
- “I have some ‘difficult’ parents.”
- “No one is going to show up.”
- “I hate arguing to parents about misbehaviors and participation.”
- “I am scared that they are going to argue with me.”
The list could go on.
But the reality is, this is a negative mindset about what Parent-Teacher Conferences is all about.
Parent-Teacher Conferences are about celebrating growth. Whether it’s academically, socially, or even with behaviors.
This is a great opportunity to celebrate knowledge and to build a connection with your families.
There is this huge underlying myth that education is “families vs. teachers.”
And I am going, to be honest, I believed this because I thought this was the only way to have a relationship with families as a teacher.
But the reality is, this is simply not true. In fact, you can create skills to make it so that it’s “Family with Teachers.”
If done right you can create a relationship that is so powerful, that you can be on the same team rather than against each other.
And the first step to that is to change your mindset and perspective on what Parent-Teacher Conferences are.
The sooner you realize that Parent-Teacher Conferences are a celebration of growth, the sooner your PTC’s will be a time you enjoy.
So let’s dive in!
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What You Should Do BEFORE Parent-Teacher Conferences
One of the absolute worst things you can do is to come unprepared to a Parent-Teacher Conference.
When you show up prepared, you are showing the families that you know exactly what you are talking about. Especially with Data.
Just like Benjamin Franklin claimed:
In all honesty, you cannot expect your Parent-Teacher Conferences to go well if you aren’t prepared.
So here is a step by step guide on what you need to do in order to be prepared for Parent-Teacher Conferences.
The first step to having a successful Parent-Teacher Conference is to schedule the conference.
Now, this might vary widely on district and school but here is a couple of tips I have learned while scheduling Parent-Teacher Conferences.
Scheduling Parent-Teacher Conferences
Now it might be different in your school or district, but scheduling PTC’s is the teacher’s sole responsibility.
In the past, I have scheduled them a couple of different ways (gave the parents two choices, assigned a time, etc.), but the best way is to let your parents choose.
For instance, our Parent-Teacher Conferences are next Friday from 8 am to 4 pm.
I have learned to ask my parents what time in between those two times works best for them.
This is important because:
- It shows you are flexible.
- You respect their busy schedule.
- You are starting the conference with mutual respect.
Now if you cannot do this, that is fine. However, I noticed that when I give my families options they come into the conference with a better mindset.
If someone chooses a time that you already have scheduled, I like to just say:
“I am so sorry, I already have a conference at (Insert Time). However, I am available at (Insert New Time) if you are available.”
This lets your families know that you are doing whatever you can to meet them close to the time they are most available.
Creating Your Handout for Parent-Teacher Conferences
The next thing I like to do is to gather all the data and grades to present to the families.
This can be anything from grades, assessments, assignments, and more.
I also recommend having 1-2 examples to represent the data. That way the families can see their child’s work.
After I have all of my data, I like to create a handout.
Now you’re welcome to create your own, or you can check out my free ones in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
While creating the handout I like to put 3 positives first.
These 3 P’s need to do the following:
- Be unique to that student
- Show that you know that student and care
For instance, I would not say “Amanda is caring.” Because that is very broad and it does not show that I know her specifically.
Instead, I would put “Amanda is very caring towards others. For instance, she is always sharing her crayons with her friends.”
That is a specific example that shows you know that student specifically.
After the 3 P’s I like to put the Data and Grades. This gives me a chance to present the Data to families with specific examples so that way they know exactly what is going on in class.
After explaining the data I like to give no more than 3 things we can work on as a team.
This gives your families actionable steps to help their child and their learning. That way families don’t feel helpless and know exactly how to help.
It’s also important to phrase it from a “we” standpoint so your families know that we are a team.
Then I put room for any questions or concerns the family might have.
You are welcome to create a handout on your own. Or feel free to get access to my Editable Parent Teacher Conference Form by clicking here.
What You Should Do DURING Parent-Teacher Conferences
There are a couple of things that can help you while you are doing the Parent-Teacher Conferences.
Especially if you get shaky and nervous as I do.
Take a Deep Breath
I know this sounds silly but just breathe. You are super prepared and you are ready for anything.
You got this!
Remember The Parents Are Just as Nervous as You
What?! That can’t be right!
Parents are just as nervous as you are when they meet. They have no idea what to expect and are wondering how their student did and what you are going to say.
It wasn’t until my second year teaching when I noticed this. I noticed a lot of my parents would do a sigh of relief after the conference. That’s when I realized how nervous it can be as a parent.
Somehow realizing you are not the only one nervous can make you feel better.
Follow the Handout
Just like we talked about before, when you have a handout that lays out your conference for you, it shows how prepared and confident you are.
Just remember your handout should include the following:
- 3 Positives (3 Ps)
- Data and Grades
- Things We Can Work On as a Team
- Comments and Concerns
Know How To Help Upset Parents
So I want to write a whole other blog post on this. But on the rare occasion that you do have an upset family member, you need to know how to help them.
When I was a New Teacher I was terrified when Families would become upset. I didn’t know how to help and I would freeze.
That’s when I ran into this video and it changed my life!
So if you need tips for helping upset families, feel free to watch this video.
What You Should Do After Parent-Teacher Conferences
Congratulations! You just finished Parent-Teacher Conferences. But there are still a couple of things we need to do.
What you do after Parent-Teacher Conferences is just as important as during the conference.
It’s time to celebrate! You just underwent one of the scariest parts (in my opinion) of teaching.
It’s time to reflect on what you did well, what you can do next time, and just celebrate that you made it!
Now that you have celebrated, it’s time to Follow Up with your families.
It’s important to Follow Up with your families for a couple of reasons:
- It shows that you genuinely care.
- It helps build that TEAM Relationship with Families.
- Keeping in touch allows families to come to you when there is concern instead of letting it build.
- Following up also allows the celebration of knowledge throughout the year which creates a positive environment for families and students.
Following up with families can be something as simple as a “Thank you.” Or even sending them a message keeping them updated on their progress.
Keeping families “in the know” creates a positive relationship and less reason for a confrontation later.
I know as teachers we have a lot on our plate, but this simple step can save you a ton of work (both physically and emotionally) later.
Continue this process for the rest of the school year and you’re going to have amazing relationships not only with your students but your families as well!
Thank you so much for reading. I enjoyed sharing some of my best Tips for Parent-Teacher Conferences.
I hope this post helped you with the “Celebration of Knowledge Day,” and to create positive relationships with your families.
Remember for Parent-Teacher Conferences to include the following things:
- 3 P’s
- Data and Grades
- Work Together
- Concerns and Questions
Have you used this method before? What did you think? Any other tips for new teachers and Parent-Teacher Conferences? Feel free to share down below!
And as always remember:
“Together we are stronger.”