Tuesday, October 6, 2009

First Conference

From the Star

So the time has come for me to begin my teacher conferences and you can just imagined how nervous I am. What will the parents want to know? Will I be able to answer all of the questions that they have? Will I have enough information that they are satisfied with the decisions that I have made. Well today I found out and I do have to say that the conference went extremely well for my first conference.

It all started when the parents came in for their child’s PMP conference (PMP's are required by the state when a child is falling below the expectation). I already knew the mom was a little upset and confused about me wanting to put her son on a PMP in reading since he got satisfactory on his progress report in reading. Many of you may be thinking, "Why would you have given him successful on the progress report in reading if he was not working on level?" Well I do have an answer for this. When progress reports went out, we only had one grade for reading and we had not yet received the results for the FAIR and SRI training and this child did not have a PMP in reading last year. So, I thought that he would be on level. However, after seeing the results of his assessments and looking over some of his work I realized that he really needed a PMP.

The parents arrived with a million questions and I don’t blame them. I probably would have just as many questions if I were the parent. So I started off by telling them what a delight there child was to have in my class, which is the truth. He really is a good kid! Once I started talking to the parents and explaining why they were seeing the differences between the progress report and the results now, I could see them take a big breath of relief. Oh and yes, you guessed it, I breathed a sign of relief too. After the tough part of telling them that I was putting their child on a reading PMP, I began with the interventions and assistance that the school and I would be giving their son. Once the parents heard about all the help that he was going to be receiving, they were relieved. I can say that I was very surprised and excited to see how well the parents and I worked together. The parents that I met with today were great and they were all about giving their child the best education that is being offered.

So... I can say that my first conference went very well and I know that all my conferences aren’t going to be so easy. I do feel much more prepared. I want all of my parents to leave my room feeling comfortable and confident with the decisions that are made during our conference. I am going to do my best to make sure that each and every parent is informed and prepared.

Anyone have any suggestions for making sure that my conference go the best they can?


  1. As scary as it can be to meet with parents, I think you always feel better after talking to them. You can usually tell that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree! Sometimes conferences can even help you to understand their child more. The advice that someone once gave to me was to...let the parents talk first. Ask them how things are going at home with homework etc. Usually, they can get the ball rolling and ease you into a much more confortable first meeting. Good luck with future parent meetings!

  2. Hi Courtney,
    You sounded like you did a really great job for your first parent-teacher confernce over a PMP! Celebrate this first experience! Always start a conference by telling the parent something good about their child. If the parent initiated the conference, ask them what their concerns are and go from there. If you initiated the conference, start by telling the parent something positive about their child. Then tell the parent your concerns, back them up with data, and tell the parents how you are going to safety-net their child. In other words, tell the parents how much extra help that you will give their child. Talk about extra time in small groups, guided reading/math, strategy groups, one-on-one conferences, tutoring. etc. and any other ways that you plan on helping their child. Reassure them that your desire is to help their child reach his/her full potential. Ask the parents for suggestions on what they think you could do to help their child. Let them know what they can do at home to reinforce what you are doing in the classroom. Smile, remain positive, and be genuine! I wish you the best of luck, Courtney! If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to email me.
    Dorry Lopez-Sinclair

  3. Like you, I always begin my conferences by saying something positive about the child. I also try to remain focused on how much I want their child to be successful in my class. I emphasize that the road to that success will be navigated by a team: parents, teachers, and student. Parents are often reassured when you demonstrate how well you have come to know their child, academically and personally. Keep your eye on building relationships and you can't go wrong!

  4. I always start out with something positive just as you did. Be specific with one thing such as "She makes friends easily". Even though that can be difficult for a child here or there, each child has something that makes them special. I also think about suggestions that I am asking parents to do at home. Remember that parents now a days are on the go and work a lot. Give examples of how they can make learning fun while cooking dinner, riding in the car, and going to the grocery store. They will be more responsive knowing that they can help their child in different ways. And last but not least, thank them for all their support and remind them that you will work together as a team to help their child.

  5. I love to hear from the parents first, too, like Miss Thomson said. I find that they will usually describe the same concerns I already have. And, sometimes, I find there are other concerns I didn't know about - sometimes concerns that I can quickly fix or address - which makes them feel a lot better. I think the biggest thing to accomplish is proving to the parent that you LOVE their child. As a parent, that's what I want to hear/know more than anything. I want to know that the teacher is personally vested in the child to some degree - sincerely interested in their best interest. In the end, if the parent trusts you with that, they will overlook all the little mistakes we are all, novice or experienced, bound to make. Good luck! :)

  6. I so admire your quest for answers before the fact. That really makes me think that your parents are already luckier than most.

    All human interactions seem to go better when they are started off on a positive note. In this case, I would be prepared with a minimum of 3 specific "nice" things that you can say about the student in question. You may have to look hard to find them, but you have to find them and declare them publicly in front of mom and dad.

    The next thing I reccomend is being an active listener. Be prepared to echo back any questions or statements that the parents have. In this way, they will know that you are really listening to them.

    All of this must be estalished before you dive into the troubled waters. Sometimes you may have to ask a question to get the ball running. You might have to ask, "Can you tell me about some of the things that _____ enjoys or does well, because I want him/her to be happy in my class." Also, do not be afraid to use strong positive emtional words such as LOVE when referring to the child, your job, and/or your classroom. I think that takes care of part of Maslow's hierarchy(speeiling was never my thing) of needs :-}

    You will do geat!

    Tom at CCE

  7. I love that you opened with the Postive things about the child. That is my number one suggestion. As a mother I remember a conference when the (Pre-K) teacher spent the entire conference telling me all of the things that were not great about my child and seemed to search for something positive to say. I cried the whole ride home. Keep that up it is so important. Remember that many of the parents are terrified of what you are going to say and adore their own children more than you can fathom. Also always have a plan in place to assure them that you are ready to help their child acheive thier goals. Sounds like you are certainly on the right track and ready for the next one. Keep up the great work.

  8. Courtney, I can't believe you are off and running as the fabulous teacher I know you will be. In our experience the apple does not fall far from the tree and what a great tree you came from! I remember you as just a young girl in elementary school and just knew you would do special work. You sound like you have already most of the knowledge to conduct your conferences but what I have found over the years is it is not "what" you say but "how" you say it. So, don't be afraid to approach the difficult topics. Lots of Luck and Love.....