Due to the Coronavirus global pandemic, parent teacher conferences will likely take on a whole new look during the 2020–2021 school year. No longer will schools allow intimate settings of 1:1 conversations to happen between parents and teachers since CDC social distancing guidelines must be adhered to. However, parents and teachers will still need to communicate with one another. Here are some tips to hold virtual parent teacher conferences.
Tips for Holding a Virtual Conference:
Choose a platform:
You’ll likely use the same platform you’re using in your remote learning or hybrid classes such as Google Meet or Zoom. I find that providing parents with a code is easier than having them click on a link. Consider making the code something easy to remember such as (Your last name + conference), ex. MuseConference.
It may also be helpful to use Google Calendar to schedule the conference. This will allow parents to sign up and have all the information in one spot.
Like any conference, you should prepare ahead of time. Look over and make a list of:
· missed assignments
· character development
Be sure to also include positive information at the conference. Often, we share weaknesses or areas that need improvement. Remember to also include areas of strength in your report. I often begin and end with something positive. This helps to not overwhelm the parent or focus solely on the negative.
Parents will want to feel that you have a good sense of their multifaceted child. You may also want to try to think of anecdotal stories to include. Having this information readily prepared will keep you at ease and allow parents to feel like you know their child well. Gain access to my editable Google Doc parent-teacher conference sheet by clicking here.
If you are anything like me, you’ll want to take the attention off of yourself. After 15 years in education, parents can still make me nervous. One way that I put myself at ease is by conducting student-led conferences. Even in a socially distanced world, it’s possible to include the student’s voice in your conference.
Choosing a student-led conference ensures that the student’s voice is heard and listened to. Students will give input on their strengths, weaknesses, academic progress, and social-emotional health.
This type of format allows you to gauge how the student views their progress in school but also allows you to use this as a starting point for a conversation with a parent. Often, I’ve found that parents perceive how a child feels about school differently from the child. Conducting a student-led conference allows parents to hear and see how a student feels about school.
To conduct a student-led conference, you’ll have to give up class time to allow students to create their presentations. Students should be given a guide to talk about:
· academic progress in various subject areas
· social-emotional health
· include student work
I find it beneficial to allow students to write out their thoughts and feelings and then either create a portfolio or video to present the information.
Creating a video is simple with programs like Flipgrid. Students can easily create a video and add features like stickers and text and show off their work on the screen. Learn more about Flipgrid here.
Future Plans: End the conference with a plan. Whether virtual or in person, a parent-teacher conference shouldn’t be your final communication with the parent. No matter what’s discussed, you should mention a plan for the future, especially if a student’s needs are discussed. Make a plan for further communication in a week or two to keep the parent updated on their child’s progress.
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