“Conferences will be at the end of the quarter, make sure you are ready!” Where did the quarter go? Time to spend time assessing and gathering data to show parents. We also need to spend time reflecting on the students in our classroom and find positives in all our students. In kindergarten, the parents are still fairly involved and interested in what we discuss at conferences. If we start on a positive note, move into the data and scores, and move into what kind of student their child is on a personal level, they go smoothly. My pro-tip is always start and end on a positive. This takes planning and preparation. The portion of the conference where we discuss progress is very straightforward, it’s the beginning and the ending that might be difficult. Always finding something positive to say about a student can be difficult, depending on the child. Be very specific about behaviors, positive and negative. “Hannah is working well with others. She is always able to explain the directions to her peers if needed.” “Hannah is having difficulty keeping her hands to herself. I notice this happens a lot when we are lining up, or when we are working in pairs.” Giving parents specific examples of all behaviors helps them to “see” their child in your classroom. Always discuss solutions or strategies that you are using in class to address issues. We are trusted with people they love the most and they want to hear about both struggles and victories. If we have been communicating effectively during the school year, there should never be surprises at conferences. Communication is key.
This quarter I had 100% conference attendance. This was possible because parents were offered options for in-person or virtual conferences. This was not an option for us before the pandemic. Now with the addition of virtual technology, we can communicate with parents from anywhere. Working parents can log in from work for 15 minutes to discuss progress. Parents with small children can log in from home for conferences. I had a parent that was in Ohio and the other parent logged in from his office at the same time. I was able to speak with both because of the resources available since the availability of Zoom and TEAMS.
Teaching during the pandemic was extremely difficult, but I think that it allowed parents to see us as teachers and people. It increased the amount of communication from parents to teachers, and vice versa. Parents are more connected to what is going on in the classroom and it gives them the opportunity to become more involved. We face new challenges each year when we teach. We have new students, parents, technology, but one thing that remains constant is the importance of effectively communicating with families. We need to take advantage of the new technology and the new opportunities to have parents more involved. Increased opportunity for communication is key to increased involvement and in turn, increases a positive perspective for parents and students.
image from dreamstime free images