Teacher Talk #2- Parent/Teacher Conferences
Updated: Jan 5
Our Apple Ridge Team had a very productive Teacher Talk #2 chatting with one another about parent / teacher conferences and the family conference forms that are used as a tool for conference time throughout all of the Apple Ridge classrooms!
Though I had an epic fail by forgetting to hit record for the first half of our chat (which was all soooooo wonderful), I did make up for it by sharing lots of notes below for you to reference :)
Conference time is a great opportunity to share and celebrate the strengths of children with their parents. Though Parent Teacher Conferences this fall are looking a lot different than years past due to COVID, it is still tremendously important that we continue to strengthen communication between you as teachers and your families!
Family Conference Forms
New this year, all classrooms will be utilizing this form to communicate the developmental milestones that each child in your class has achieved. You have the option of hand writing on a hard copy or filling in an electronic form that will be printed for families.
What to Include on the Family Conference Forms
Include one or two strengths in each of these 5 sections:
Language and Literacy Development
It is absolutely okay if they are bullet pointed or listed! It does not need to be a lengthy narrative (unless you want to do that, it is of course ok). These strengths can and should be taken directly from objectives they have mastered from their assessment forms.
Focus on the strengths of each child and provide real and specific examples from the classroom!
This is not the time to talk about behavioral concerns or academic concerns, as that should be already happening with the use of face-to-face, KT or email/phone conversations. These conference sheets should not be used as a ‘tattle tale’ report, but more-so an opportunity to showcase all the GOOD!
Take caution with the verbiage you use… try not to pull exact wording directly from the assessment as some phrases are intended for teachers use (you guys are the experts), but can be worded differently when directed towards parents to make it more appropriate and easier for them to understand in relation to their child. For example... "Uses complex sentence structure” can be changed to "Is able to use 3-4 word sentences and engage in back and forth conversations with others."
Do not over simplify, though, as we want you to be proud of the development and experiences you are providing to enhance children's learning, but just make sure that it makes sense to your audience :)
Mention the "next step" in the developmental continuum to help parents see the goals you are working towards next! This allows parents to support these skills at home, and strengthens the home-to-school connection even more.
Add a little something special to make it unique to your classroom/teaching style. Maybe a photo, certificate, work example… typically during face-to-face conferences you have the opportunity to share these items when talking, so think about how can you accomplish this ‘special’ moment with COVID times happening.
Family Conference Form Process
Submit to Cristlyn or Tiffany for review
Give parents two copies (parents will keep one copy and return one copy to you)
Use the copy that parents return as reference when creating their next Individual Development Plan, then add it to the child’s portfolio
Distributing Family Conference Forms
Handing these forms to parents in-person, face-to-face is ideal and will have the most profound impact... it creates more meaning and a much stronger feeling of personalization... when parents know that you recognize their child as an individual and that their child is important to you, they beam with happiness and gratitude!
Sending a Kangarootime message to inform families of the Family Conference Forms and share a little more about the "why" behind us doing this also adds value to the forms themselves. After getting a heads-up message, many parents will be eager to receive the forms and pay closer to attention to the work you put it in to create meaningful notes.
Be sure to talk with the parents about the importance of getting their feedback and how you use their feedback to help create future goals for their child!
The Role of Portfolios at Conference Time
You work hard on building children's portfolios, and in a "normal" world, these portfolios would be available for the parents to view anytime… however, most parents will not ask, and it's also more difficult with parents not currently entering our classrooms... and honestly, some parents don't know that portfolios even exist... say what?! Regardless, we want YOU to encourage your parents to take a few minutes to peek at these, especially around conference time, as you work HARD on these and deserve the opportunity to show them off!
You can include portfolio viewing as a reminder in your newsletter, or send out a special message via Kangarootime to invite parents view them at pick-up time. Whatever works best for you in your own classrooms is ok.
Portfolios are not only a tool that we have in place to track the child’s progress through our program, but also to demonstrate the high quality education we offer to the families in our care. This sets us apart from other centers in a BIG way.
We hope that you take this opportunity to review all of the advice and ideas that your co-workers have shared as you finish out Fall 2020 Conferences this week and next! Reviewing this Teacher Talk is also a great way to be “ahead of the game” and prepare for conferences in Spring 2021 and beyond!
Watch (1/2) the Recording Here:
To Earn 1 Hour of Continuing Ed Credit:
-Watch the Recording, and Review the Written Notes in this Post
-Complete the Teacher Talk #2 Reflection
-Download, Print, Fill In and Submit a Certificate of Completion
-Submit Certificate of Completion to Your Director
Questions? Links Not Working for You?
Contact Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance!