Friday, February 8, 2019

Tips for Successful Student-Led Parent-Teacher Conferences

Despite the misnomer, "Spring" Parent-Teacher Conferences, I do not think anyone around the country is feeling like it is spring yet. I know that the diverse weather of late has everyone wondering if it is going to be a Polar Vortex tomorrow or a balmy, sunny and 25 F? Regardless of the weather, second-semester conferences are here. At my school, second-semester parent-teacher conferences, are student-led. What does that mean? It is different at every school. Some school allows a lot more flexibility than others. Regardless of what the procedures are at your school, there are a few things that I always do.

Tips and Techniques for Success

First, practice with your students! Whether or not they are doing well, they get very nervous about doing these conferences. I mean they are on display in front of their caretakers (parents, grandparents, or older siblings) plus they know that they have to convey some pretty important information. As the saying goes, "Practice makes perfect!" I have some mock run-throughs with my students so that they feel comfortable when the big night arrives. Second, I have them fill out a form that goes through what their current grades are, things to work on, things that are going well, and a summary of their "scholarly habits." This allows students to do a self-reflection on how the year is going and take accountability if it isn't going in the direction they want it to. Also, for students that are high performers, it gives them an opportunity to set additional goals for themselves that may not fall into the academic category. Don't forget to have students address the social-emotional aspect of their school day. Next, as part of the reflection process, have students set 3 goals that they want to achieve by the end of the year. Last, allow students to have a script that they can refer to so that they make sure they are addressing all of the necessary and required items. This gives them comfort and confidence on conference night. Most of the time they do not even use it! 

Student Success 

It always amazes me how well students do during this experience. I have discovered that giving the students time to reflect on what is going well and set goals for what needs improvement really allows them a chance to realize that with a little more effort and practice they can be where they want to be. I always tell students that it is never too late to turn things around or reach new heights! As I have discussed in my Podcast and other blog posts, I find the process of goal-setting and reflection an invaluable process for students of all ages. It separates the successful students from students that struggle to achieve their goals. I hope that these techniques are applicable in your classroom and they make this next round of parent-teacher conferences a success! I always love to hear your feedback and comments so make sure to take time to send them!

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