Joined: 18 Jul 2011
Parent Conference Night
Does this sound like your typical parent-teacher conference night: prepare 20 things to show parents, have parents come in for 15 minutes and speed talk their ears off, have one parent who wants to "chat" for an extra 8 minutes, which then backs up the entire night, no break for dinner because you are overbooked, and then do not have the parents show up that you really need to speak with? Have you had enough? I finally had and I decided that this conference night meant more to me than the parents or the students. Enough was enough.
I now have student led parent teacher conferences at least twice a year. It does take some planning throughout the year, but the result is a hassle-free night, which allows for child and parent to really reflect on the learning that has taken place.
My evening begins with 2-3 students booked every 45 minutes. This allows for multiple conferences to be done at one time and yet still have space in the room to not disturb one another. Students arrive with their parents, seat them, and serve them a snack (which I provide). They then get their portfolio binder from the shelf, retrieve their script, and (as practiced during the mock conferences) begin. I also have tablecloths and quiet music playing in the background to heighten the experience.
Within the script, students will be explaining to their parents the concepts learned, showing them graphs of their individual progress, as well as explaining their reading/fluency levels. They also tell about their math fact progress, how their comprehension stacks up, and what they have chosen as their favorite assignment in each class and why.
Towards the end of the 30-page portfolio is the best part. Beforehand, I have the parents fill out a reflection sheet about the child as a learner at home and send back in a sealed envelope. I place this form into the portfolio just before conferences for the parent to discuss with the child. It is quite powerful. Lastly, the student also explains self-reflections about behavior and grades, and describes their goals for the next quarter and how they will attempt to reach them.
When the students have completed their conference (which can take from 30-45 minutes at a leisurely pace), I then (and only then), stroll over to the family to discuss how the conference went and answer any questions the parent may have that was not already discussed in the conference.
Attendance is usually close to 100% because the students have taken so much time to prepare the portfolios, and they have also created special invitations for the families to attend on conference night. On those rare occasions when a parent still does not show up, I am able to send the portfolio home to have the conference completed and then returned with a parent signature to verify that the parent is aware of the child's progress.
No more hunting down parents' numbers or looking for siblings to find out what happened. No more rushing through so that the time does not get backed up. Anything I would plan on saying to the parent is mentioned within the script of the student led conference. The child has a much higher vested interest in his or her learning once the realization occurs that grades are earned, not given. The data and reflections help to confirm as well.
I encourage all to use student led parent teacher conferences in the future. I tend to get a lot of grading done at my desk on those evenings!
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/3395080
What is your parent conference night like? Stop by the Primary Grades Group to talk about it with us!