Tip #1: A strong family bond makes life that much sweeter. In our case...a strong home school connection is key!
Of course, coming from a larger family, I know that sometimes we did not all see eye to eye. But I don't know what I would do without each of my family members. We need each other...through all of the ups and downs in life. It's the same when you think about the home school bond that we have to work to develop with each family. There are times when you as the teacher might not agree with the parent. And there are times when the parents might not agree with you. But our students need us to always work at working together. When you are conducting parent conferences, always try to remember that a strong home school connection is the foundation that will help move students forward.
Tip #2: Don't judge a book by its cover and if you do, have the courage to change your mind.
Sometimes we are quick to judge people. We are human. We make mistakes. Sometimes a parent sends you an email or makes a comment about something you have done as a teacher. And you begin to formulate an opinion about that parent. Or maybe the teacher the year before had a tough relationship with the parents, and you assume that you will have the same problems. Or maybe you have a working parent who shows up late to the conference or not at all. As hard as it might be, try to set aside your assumptions, your judgments, your already formed ideas about how the conference will go. No matter what interactions you have already had or not had, these are parents who are trusting you with their most prized possessions, their children. If you wrongly judged them or if they wrongly judged you, it's never too late to start fresh. We can all learn from Belle to look beyond what we can see on the surface. During conferences, we need to give parents a chance to show us what they are thinking and feeling about their child's education, and we need to be able to show them more than just what they see or hear about us as educators.
Tip #3: Never stop learning.
Of course we are in the business of education so this seems like a no-brainer. We never stop learning and talking about learning. But I think it's important to remember this tip during parent conferences. Just like Ariel, we need to always be willing to "ask 'em my questions and get some answers." When you are meeting with parents, this is a chance to learn more about your students. You will grow as an educator by asking questions. You will help your students grow even more by asking questions and getting the parents to think about the types of questions they should be asking about their child as a learner. You could show them some of their child's work, and then ask, "I wonder why she chose to solve the problem this way, do you know why?" Or ask a parent about what his child likes to read and what he thinks the child is thinking about while reading. I certainly don't mean that you want to grill the parents with questions. I think you can use questioning and wondering to guide the conversation with parents. They might have some good questions for you. Write their questions down and see if you can use those questions to look at your student in a different light.
Tip #4: Comfort zones were meant to be stepped out of...don't let your fear guide you or trap you.
I remember that nervous feeling before I met with parents. I thought if I just stick to the script, tell them a few facts, show them some work, and hope they don't ask me something I can't answer...then I will be able to get through these conferences quickly. I challenge you to not do what I did; I challenge you to break from the script. Each of your students are different, and each of their parents are different as well. Don't be afraid to have very different conferences based on the student that you are discussing. If you are in the mode of sticking to a script, chances are, the conference won't be effective for you or the parents. And then when the parent throws you a curveball question or comment, you won't be prepared because it wasn't in your notes. Plus, don't we say that in order for your brain to truly be learning new information, we need to be presented with struggles and challenges? Approach conference time as a time when you are going to stretch that brain of yours!
Tip #5: Try to imagine walking in someone else's footsteps.
Pocahontas had to learn a lot about John Smith and the strangers that sailed to her land. John Smith had to learn a lot about Pocahontas and her people. You have the perspective of the classroom and your students through your eyes. Parents have the perspective of your classroom and their child through their eyes. We need to try to imagine walking in each other's shoes. If you can think about what the parent's perspective is going to be, it might help you get whatever message you want to get across. Plus, seeing things from the parent's view can be a learning opportunity and can help you connect with parents and students.
Bonus tip: Don't let time get away from you!
There never seems to be enough time for each parent conference. Try to be strategic about planning out what you discuss and what you share with parents. Don't be like Cinderella and forget what time it is! You don't want to end your parent conference in a rush and then realize you forgot to share important information. Plus, you don't want your car to turn into a pumpkin or your conference outfit to turn back into rags.
Clearly I need to stop watching Disney movies and find a room in my house that doesn't have a princess in it. But hopefully you can take something away from these tips, and get ready to have some efficient, thought-provoking, productive parent conferences. When we connect with parents, the results for our students is magical!
I started reading the sequel to The War That Saved My Life. It's called The War I Finally Won. This historical fiction book is the conclusion of Kimberley Brubaker Bradley's story of Ada and Jamie, two children experiencing World War II. I loved the first book so much; hoping her second one is just as good!
|Would life's darkest days be an invitation to dance in the rain?|
|Could what ties us down|
|Could what ties us down be what keeps us up?|
Tuesday - Dr. Chesson visits FloRo from 9:30-12
Wednesday - Kindergarten chorus time @ 2:20, Staff Meeting from 3:30-4:30
Thursday - Teacher Field Trip to Ruggles Lane to observe WIN block in action
Friday - Kindergarten Nashua River Fall Enrichment program, Gift of Failure book club meeting @ 8:20 in Laurie and Angela's room
Great things I noticed last week:
- I love this sign that Mrs. Kinneen posted on the door to the gym!
- On Monday and Tuesday, I attended and presented at the Literacy for All conference in Rhode Island. I heard some great speakers, including Stephanie Harvey, who talked about the best intervention being a good book...yes!
- Mr. Wiesner got 1st graders to do some acting while singing during music class. The little old lady was very convincing!
- I did not get to make it around to see all of the costumes, but I caught some great book character costumes being worn by students and staff!
- Did you see Mrs. Fournier's display of her students' hopes and dreams? They read the book Happy Dreamer and talked about what their hopes and dreams were. Head down to the end of the 3rd grade hallway and check the rest out!
Check it out:
Some other posts about parent teacher conferences:
And of course this video clip might put a smile on your face...