Start conferences by having parents share their impressions of how school is going for their child. Ask them to share what is working well for their child, what they see their child struggling with, and whether they have any specific questions they’d like answered during the conference. To save time, you can have parents answer these questions in writing before the conference. Showing parents that you value their expertise sets the stage for true collaboration. Hearing parents talk about their observations and concerns allows you an opportunity to assess the most productive direction for the conference.
Draw upon parents’ expertise throughout the year. If you’re struggling with a student, talk to his parents and don’t be afraid to ask for advice by asking questions such as, “Does this ever happen at home? What helps the situation?” True collaboration means learning from each other; building relationships with parents can help students receive better support at home and school.
2. Set Goals
During the Conference:
After having parents share their impressions of how school is going for their student, I shared my observations, student work, and assessment data. After looking at the information gathered from both home and school, I found success using this sheet to assess students’ progress and set goals. Sometimes I didn’t have enough time to fill in the sheet as I talked with families, so I jotted down quick notes during the conference and added more details later. Sharing the written record of the conference with parents helped to summarize our discussion and held us accountable for following through with action steps.
Revisit the action steps that were mutually agreed upon at the conference. Before winter break, consider sending home a copy of the action steps and having students work with their families to self-assess their progress towards their goals.
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