How to prepare for Parent-Teacher Conferences

Friday, March 16, 2018
Early in my career, parent-teacher conferences were my least favorite thing about teaching.  Let’s be honest; they terrified me.  Why?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it was a lack of confidence in myself or the fact that I had a really challenging parent my first year.  Likely, it was simply a fear of the unknown.  Parent conferences do not have to be stressful and frightening.  Remember, parents are often just as nervous as you are!  As long as you are organized, prepared and respectful- your conferences can be one of the best times of the whole school year.  For real!

How to prepare for successful parent-teacher conferences with freebies!


Ask Questions Before the Conference

For me, the hardest part of conferences was not knowing what to expect from parents.  One year I decided to send a questionnaire home before conferences to see what parents want to talk about.  Game changer!  Now I had the information and I could prepare to answer their questions.  I pulled activities and strategies for them to use to address their concerns.  I was prepared.  You can find my free pre-conference freebie form here.

free forms for teachers to prepare for parent-teacher conferences
Click Here for your Free Parent-Conference Forms Printables!

Allow the parents to lead the conversation.  

My best conference advice is to allow the parents to lead the conversation.
What are they worried about?  What are they seeing at home?  It is truly eye-opening.  When you let the parents do the talking and you do most of the listening.  That’s not to say you shouldn’t be prepared to share assessment results and other important information.  You need to have information to share and a general plan of how to convey what you see at school.  However, you should use that information to support your conversation.  Conferences will become a true conversation about how students are performing at school and how parents can continue to support their student’s education.  This helps parents to feel like part of the team.

Color Code All the Things

The most helpful piece in how I prepare for parent-teacher conferences is my color-coded folders of reports, forms, grades, and work samples ready to share and pulled them out as I need them.  I color-code my folders by AM and PM class and then by IEP and ESL kids.  My AM class is always yellow and PM is blue (literally everything the AM kids use is yellow and PM is blue…name tags, folders, notebooks, bins, etc.).  My ESL kids get green folders and my extended day kids get red folders and my IEP kids get purple folders.  I color code this way to make organization easier.  When I get an IEP update from the special ed. teacher, I can quickly find the correct purple folder to drop it into.  I teach 35-45 kids between my 2 classes each year and I’ve found this to be the best way to keep myself organized. 


Organize All the Things

What goes in the folders?  Everything.  Notes from parents, nurses passes, tardy notes, writing samples from the beginning, middle and end of year, work samples, benchmark assessments, math unit tests, DRA scores, running records (as needed), behavior notes, IEPs, reports from other teachers.  If a parent may question it, I put it in the folder.  Literally, everything goes into that child’s folder.   It might be overkill, but I find it’s better to be prepared.  If you’ve ever had a challenging parent, you know how important it is to have a record of everything. 


everything you need to prepared for parent-teacher conferences
Click here for Editable Parent-Teacher Conference forms on TPT. 

What information should you send home?  I give parents a conference report with an overview of how their student is doing at school and a few resources to use at home.  I also give parents their student’s self-evaluation form (freebie!).  You have to find a balance of what is too much to send home and sending too little.  There are so many resources out there and you want to make sure parents actually read and use what you send home. Typically, I have a small packet (5 pages or less) about reading levels and how to help with reading at home and a list of apps/websites to try at home.   You can find my editable connect at home flyer here. 

editable parent-teacher conference forms and organizational tools pin

Looking to revamp how you prepare for parent-conferences or to be better prepared for conferences?  You can find everything you need in my Editable Parent-Teacher Conference Forms.   It has everything you need for successful conferences including sign up forms, reminders, progress reports, and thank you notes! 

What is your best conference advice? 


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