How to Plan a Productive Parent Teacher Conference

photo of a smiling teacher sitting at a meeting in the classroom

Parent teacher conferences are an essential way to communicate with parents and build a partnership that sets students up for success.  Conferences give teachers the opportunity to share updates on the child’s progress while addressing any thoughts or questions from parents. Together you can coordinate plans to help the student reach their academic and personal goals.

So how do you plan conferences that provide the most benefit for everyone? Online sign ups make it easy to organize your conference schedule and simplify communication with parents. You can set up conference time slots on your sign up and send to parents to select an appointment that works best. With SignUpGenius taking care of the planning, you’ll have more time to focus on your students.

Here are a few helpful tips to help you prepare for productive parent teacher conferences that make the most out of your time together.

Plan the Conference

  • Create a meeting schedule with a reasonable amount of time for each conference - remember to leave time for your lunch and breaks
  • Choose topics to cover during the conference such as the student’s strengths and growth areas. Prepare yourself by thinking about what information parents really should have.
  • Before conferences, make sure your files on the students are up to date. Also fill out a pre-conference sheet on each child.
  • Decide whether children will participate. Sometimes it is helpful to have older children explain their work and set goals for their own future. It may be helpful to have students fill out a student self-evaluation form because it can make them aware of the different topics you will be discussing with their parent.
  • Consider a virtual conference option to accommodate social distancing and busy family schedules. SignUpGenius is integrated with Zoom, so you can add your video conference link to your online sign up.

Communicate Prior to Meeting

  • Share information about the timing and goals of the conferences, as well as alternative scheduling options in your sign up. Genius Tip: Create custom confirmation or reminder emails to automatically email this information to parents who sign up.
  • Encourage families to write questions they would like to ask and note any topics they would like to discuss.
  • Suggest that families talk with their children before the conference. They can discuss what the teacher might say and issues the child would like discussed.

Meet with Parents

  • Begin by discussing positive aspects of the child’s experiences in your class. Always start and end with a student’s strengths.
  • Explain your goals for the child and how each child’s progress is determined.
  • Talk about the child’s work. Discuss the child’s performance in each subject and go over any assessments.
  • During the conferences, display student projects and provide additional information on programming, activities, volunteer opportunities and available services.
  • Listen to parents. It will help you understand what they want for their child. As many parent-teacher organizations suggest, the most effective parent-teacher communication grows out of a truthful and thoughtful collaboration between both parties.

Close the Conference

  • Close the conference by setting goals for the child’s future work. You may even find it helpful to provide a conference summary form.
  • Suggest strategies for meeting those goals.
  • Make an agreeable plan to communicate regularly about the student's growth.
After your conferences, create responsive instructional practices based on what you learned about family cultures, home learning environments and a student's strengths and weaknesses. Continue to communicate on an ongoing basis with families, with positive news as well as updates on student progress.

Conferences are a great opportunity to build a partnership with parents and assure them that you are working toward their child’s success.

Contributors: Dan Rutledge and Steven Borders

Additional Resources

50 Question to Ask at a Parent Teacher Conference

Parent Teacher Conference Checklist

A Guide for Creating Parent Teacher Conference Forms on SignUpGenius

20 Tips for a Successful Parent Teacher Conference