Had conferences with parents this past week, and they went alright, considering how exhausted I was. I like how our school does conferences: there are two days where all the teachers are set up at tables in our gym from 5pm to 8pm and parents can come in and can go find all their child’s teachers in the same close proximity. Usually it is the case that the parents you need to see don’t show up, and the students who are doing fine have very helpful parents where the conference goes a bit like this:
Me: Well, your child is an absolute pleasure to have in class. Thank you for having he/she/it at this school.
Parent: Thank you, so-and-so says he/she/it likes your class as well.
Me: Thank you. I look forward to continuing to work with your child.
Fortunately a handful of parents showed up where their child had F’s, and in every single case, they were thankful for “how many opportunities I give for their child to succeed and he/she/it is going to work harder in the future.” I believe most of them. I also exhausted my supply of oxygen explaining participation points, but I think it was worth it. Here’s the sheet I handed them, which was also hopefully helpful:
I even received very positive feedback from the one parent who sent an angry e-mail just a few weeks earlier. The parents got on my side once they realized that “Participation Points” were not a subjective measurement and it was simply that their child was not doing work outside of class.
Just curious if other people have more advice for parent-teacher conferences, from experience. I always try to include something positive the child has been doing and really try to demonstrate that I have a personal knowledge of how much effort their child is putting into my class. Anecdotes are always bonuses. But the thing that really helped this time was pointing out, at least for every student with an F or a low grade, at least 3 different ways their child could be doing better, and I hope that the parents truly follow up, as I believe most will.