Monday, February 20, 2012

Prepping for Parent Conferences

From Connecticut's Newly Published Education Transformation Document

It's that time of year again when I'm prepping for a month of parent conferences. Most conferences happen on Wednesday afternoons, but some are scheduled during early morning times or late afternoons in response to parent schedules.

If you've been following my posts, you know that I sent out a parent survey with my latest report cards.  The survey results demonstrated a variety of parent requests and needs related to their children's success, engagement and performance. As I prepare for each conference, I want to respond to families' individual needs.

I also want to share examples of each child's work, assessments and performance relative to our grade level goals and objectives.  Hence, I'll prepare a folder of student work and scores. I'll also have a computer on hand to share students' ePortfolios and other online work.

Since there are only 20 minutes set aside for each conference, I want to make sure that the time is well organized and responsive to family concerns.  Hence, I'll run the conferences with the following format:
  • A chance for family members to express their questions and comments.
  • An opportunity to share student work relative to family questions and concerns, and our primary grade-level goals.
  • Goal setting for the final months of the school year.
I created a form to organize and track conference information. I realize that many teachers invite students to the conference.  I have done this before and I believe it is a positive practice, however since I employed many new teaching methods this year related to technology and project based learning, I want the chance to talk to family members alone in order to understand better the ways that feedback and communication related to those new methodologies are working with respect to their children's academic growth. In class, students are on-task, engaged and responsive throughout the day.  Hence, I am confident that students' have a strong understanding of their current performance, interests and achievement goals.

As we employ new structures in response to ready information access, technology and individualized education plans, it's imperative that we educate and respond to families with respect to these changing structures.

I believe that our project based, tech-infused classroom structure responds well to the skills, knowledge and concepts students will need as they move forward in our global, networked, info-laden world, however it's a big change from the classrooms of old where subjects were mostly delineated, worksheets dominated homework assignments and student success was assessed primarily by grades and test scores.  

How do you prep for parent conferences?  What strategies do you use to promote a student-teacher-family team approach?  How do you respond to questions related to changing school structure, feedback and activities?  Thanks for any responses you'd like to share as this is an integral part of school life, one that can serve to increase student engagement and success.

More information from Connecticut's Document