Why You Should Be Doing Beginning of the Year Conferences

9:00 AM

Do you host parent-teacher conferences at the beginning of the year? If not, you should definitely consider implementing this as you head back to school this year!

I always dreaded parent-teacher conferences. They made me SO nervous! I avoided them at all costs and couldn't sleep the night beforehand. One day, I decided to figure out why I hated conferences so much.

When I really thought about it, it came down to being unsure of my relationship with the parents. If the conference was with a family I didn't know very well, then I had no idea what to expect from them. Not knowing what to expect is where the anxiety was coming from.

So, I decided to fix that. Not only would it help my own anxiety, but I realized I needed to be better about connecting with parents in general. So, I decided to host beginning of the year conferences to really get to know the families early in the year. I call them "Get to Know You" conferences, because it's really just about getting to know the family. 

If you're interested in learning know about how to implement these types of conferences - and why you should - keep reading!

Why host a "Get to Know You" conference?

Parent-teacher conferences can be incredibly nerve-wracking, both for the parents and the teacher! But by initiating meetings with parents right at the beginning of the school year, you can establish a good rapport with parents so that there's no need to be nervous later on in the year.

It's scary to only meet with parents when there's an issue that needs to be addressed. You want to make sure you have a positive relationship with your students' families prior to issues arising. This establishes a level of trust that is SO important to have between parents and teachers.

When you take the time to get to know families early in the year, two things happen. One, as mentioned, you establish trust and a positive relationship with parents. Two, you open up the opportunity for parents to share information that might be important for you to know (unique family situations, past academic struggles, etc.).

These two things can make ALL the difference in how your year goes! The year I implemented beginning of the year conferences, I had the best parent relationships I'd ever had.

How to Run a "Get to Know You" Conference

If you're interested in running a "Getting to Know You" conference, here are the steps to take so you can ensure a smooth process.

First, you need to get parents to sign up! I put a sign up sheet at my school's meet the teacher event, because at my school, almost all families show up. You can also have a sign up sheet outside your door on the first day of school if parents typically walk their children in on the first day. 

I also recommend having a sign up sheet for a phone or email conference, for those parents who work and can't make an in-person meeting during the day. Collect their contact info and best times to contact.

Next, I highly recommend sending a reminder the day before! Whether it's shooting them a quick email, giving them a phone call, or sending a note home with their student, make sure you confirm the meeting.

During the conference, use the time to make sure to communicate to parents any important information, such as grading policy, what homework will look like, etc. Then focus the attention to them, asking them if they have any questions or anything that you should be aware of.

These conferences should not be long. Mine ran about 15-20 minutes, but they helped tremendously! Not only did I develop a positive relationship with parents right from the start, but I learned valuable information I may not have been made aware of otherwise. Overall, the time spent at the beginning of the year holding these conferences was more than worth it.

So, what do you think? Will you do a beginning of the year conference this year? Let me know in the comments if you do, or if you have any questions!

by Kayla @ The Average Teacher

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